How to set (and keep) monthly intentions
If you’re anything like us, you’ll love any excuse for a clean slate. The start of a new month can give us this, offering us a chance to pause, reflect and set intentions for the month ahead. Doing this regularly lets us learn, adapt and change as we go instead of feeling bound by a resolution we made during the New Year.
Setting intentions in this way also makes space for self-compassion and kindness. We can hold our goals lightly and not beat ourselves up if things don’t go to plan because next month, we have the opportunity to learn and set new intentions that will better serve us.
We wanted to share our top tips for not only setting monthly intentions, but keeping them – because, let’s be real here, that’s the tricky part. So, if you’re ready to take a more gentle and flexible approach to goal setting, try these steps:
Reflect on the past month
Before you dive head-first into the intention setting, it’s helpful to take some time to look back at the previous month. Try reflecting using these journaling prompts:
What felt good this month?
How can you bring more of this into next month?
What didn’t feel good?
How can you minimise this next month?
What do you want more of in the upcoming month?
What do you want less of?
Respond honestly and openly. Use these answers as opportunities to learn. For example, if something didn’t feel good this month, don’t use this as a stick to beat yourself with. Instead, use it as an opportunity to make a change next month. This process will help you set intentions that are tailored and right for you.
Look forward to the month ahead
One more step before we get to the intention setting. Look at the month ahead to see what you already have planned can help you be more realistic about your intentions. If you have a busy month filled with social obligations or it’s due to be a particularly busy period at work, can you adapt your intentions to suit that? For example, you might find it helpful to focus on intentions around self-care and mindfulness to help you cope with overwhelm.
If your month ahead is looking quiet, you may want to set more action-based intentions that you’ll have space for. Being aware of what’s coming up and taking a compassionate approach is key for sticking to your intentions.
Now is the time to set your intentions! We’ve used the word ‘intentions’ here as this can feel more flexible for some people than ‘goals’, but we encourage you to use whichever terminology resonates with you.
Look back at your notes from the previous two steps and use these to guide your intentions for the month. Writing down intentions can help them feel more concrete and you’re more likely to stick to them. You may also find it helpful to put them somewhere you’ll see them often – put a post-it note on a wall, change your phone or computer screensaver or refer to them throughout your journaling practice.
Back intentions up with an action plan
Having intentions is all well and good, but if they’re not backed up by a plan then they’re likely to sit, forgotten, in the back of your mind. Consider what steps you need to take in order to make your intentions a reality.
For example, if your intention is to be more mindful this month as it’s going to be a stressful period at work – how will you do this? Will you start a habit of meditating daily? Will you ensure you have at least one mindful moment a day? Get specific about your plan and write this down too.
Finally, it’s time to look at how we can keep our monthly intentions. Accountability is a secret weapon here, but first it can help to understand how you’re motivated. We love Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies quiz where you can find out if you’re a questioner, obliger, upholder or rebel. Understanding this will help you figure out how best to get accountability. For example, if you’re an obliger, telling a friend or even your social media audience your intentions and asking them to hold you accountable might help.
Setting reminders on your phone, having an accountability partner or even working with a coach are all great ways of getting the external support you need to stay on track.
And remember, it’s OK if things don’t go to plan. Sometimes life simply gets in the way. When the next month comes around simply use the reflection time to note what happened and see if there’s anything you can adapt for the next month.
Hopefully, these steps will serve you well as you start a brand new month – we wish you all the best.
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