Setting Intentions for Success

Have you ever set an intention for yourself?

If you have ever determined that a particular day, situation, or person required you to act or respond in a specific way, you have set an intention for yourself.  Essentially, an intention is a decision to show up for life in a particular manner. Intentions are about who you want to be rather than what you want to get.  In this way, they don’t necessarily focus on a specific outcome or tangible result.

Common examples of intentions include, “Today, I will have a positive attitude,” “I choose to be courageous in my communication today,” or “During this meeting, I will share my thoughts freely.”  Intentions can also be a short phrase or a single word, such as, “Patience,” “Embrace change,” or “Smile.”

Setting an intention does not need to be as formal as goal setting though, and typically intentions are focused on short-term time frames.  In fact, experts recommend that we set intentions for each day as a way to create a frame of mind that matches what is present in our lives.  However, if you do have a long term goal in mind, setting daily intentions can help you reach your goal.

Setting intentions can benefit early childhood educators, because each day presents a unique set of challenges and situations to manage. Here are a few suggestions for incorporating intention setting into your practice:

Start the day with an intention – as you move through your morning routine, think about what you have planned for the day and what you want to accomplish. Then reflect on which character traits or ways of being you would need to bring to the table to be successful throughout the day.  For example, if you have a conference with a family, you might create the intention of “Be open-minded.”  If there is a field trip planned, you might create the intention of “Today, I will share all of my energy and excitement with the children.”

Keep intentions positive – Just like classroom rules for children, intentions should focus on what you will do and how you will act.   Rather than saying, “Today, I will stop getting frustrated,” create the intention of “Today, I will remain calm.”

Write it down – Each day, jot your intention down as a way to make it more permanent.  You could find a set of sticky notes that is appealing to you and use them to document your intentions.  You might post the sticky note in a place where you will see it throughout the day, or fold it up and place it in your pocket as a reminder of your intention.

Share your intention – If you are comfortable and it is appropriate to do so, share your intention with a friend, coworkers, or even the children.  Explain that you are sharing this intention so they can kindly remind you about your intention throughout the day, especially if they see that you are not embodying your intention.  This is a great way to stay accountable to the intentions that you set.

Setting intentions with children– Introduce intention setting to children, using simple language and common scenarios.  Talk with children about the scenarios and then brainstorm a list of words or phrases that children can use in their intentions, such as:

  • Stay calm
  • Try again and again
  • Do all you can
  • Be nice
  • Be a good friend
  • Work together

At the beginning of the day or when children enter into play situations, ask them to think of an intention for their day or play.  Remind them of their intentions throughout the day in a gentle and kind way, so that they can make adjustments to how they are acting to match their intention.