Compassionate Intention Setting
Updated: Aug 23, 2022
The end of one cycle and the beginning of another can be a perfect opportunity for compassionate self-reflection and intention setting. Days, weeks, months, quarters, seasons, birthdays, and school years can all be containers for intentional beginnings and/or ends - New Year’s Eve does not have a copyright on resolutions!
This moment right now, the transition from summer to fall, or the start of the academic year, also happens to be the end (and beginning!) of the Jewish lunar-solar spiritual calendar. Jewish tradition invites us this time of year to take part in “spiritual accounting,” which is a personal reflection on the past year, and “Teshuva”, the process of acknowledging mistakes and returning to your true path or best-self. If you happen to be Jewish, and are reading this post during the High Holiday season, check out my Elul “Moon Manual” activity on the At the Well website, which features a 4-step process for Teshuva and a guided meditation on self-forgiveness.
If you find yourself in any opportune moment for self-reflection and are looking to set a personal intention, I’d like to offer you the following guidance:
Start with Self-Compassion
If you are creating an intention for yourself, it is likely that you have identified a way you would like to change / improve / do something differently in your life. While personal growth is certainly a meaningful pursuit, remember that you are inherently worthy of love and acceptance just the way you are right now. Check out Kirstin Neff’s incredible website for self-compassion resources and practices. Make sure that this intention is coming from a place of love, empathy and curiosity, not judgment, shame or fear.
Identify Your “Why”
Once you have grounded yourself in self-compassion, take some time for self-reflection. Ask yourself why you are setting this intention? Make sure that your intention is aligned with your personal values and beliefs (not external pressures or expectations). The more meaningful and heartfelt the intention - the more likely you are to follow through. Questions you might want to ask yourself include:
Why is this particular intention important to me right now?
How does this intention align with my personal values, beliefs or purpose?
How do I want to feel while I pursue it?
What am I turning toward?
Are there external expectations influencing my intention? And if so, how can I release them or re-frame?
Let Go / Begin Again
It may sound cliché - But, it really is all about the journey, not the destination. My favorite personal mantra is “Begin Again.” It doesn’t matter if you have fallen off the wagon, made a few mistakes, or hit bumps on the road to your goal - You always have the opportunity, at any time you choose, to pause and begin again. If you are working toward a goal or outcome that you have tried for and failed in the past, give yourself permission to start fresh with all of the insight and knowledge you’ve gained along the way. When you set an intention for yourself, whether it is for the first or 100th time, sit quietly, take a few deep breaths, and repeat the following phrase to yourself: “I give myself permission to Begin Again.”