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Home > The Vapour Blog > Setting Intentions for Positive Change

The Vapour Blog

Setting Intentions for Positive Change
By Ashleigh Beyer, Vapour BlogGirl

With the new year just around the corner, it’s easy to put the cart before the horse when it comes to goals. Us gals here at Vapour prefer the word ‘intention’ to the word ‘resolution.’ Resolution is defined as: “A formal expression of intention and a determination; a resolve.” Here in Taos we don’t get down with “formal” too much. Annie Murphy Paul defined intention as: “The purpose and awareness with which we approach the occasion.” That sounds more like it to me. Being present and aware of ‘What Is’ rather than making a decision to stick to.

When looking at the year ahead first be present with the moment you’re in. Take some time in front of your altar, go for a walk by yourself, or sit down with a journal if you’re a pen and paper kinda person. Be with the changes that have happened in this last year. Some will be easy to define and positive, some will be easy to define and hard to look at. Perhaps you got a promotion or moved into a new home. Some of the adjustments will be less tangible; maybe you grew emotionally or deepened a special relationship. Be there for yourself, acknowledge growth, however small or large; take a moment to be still with your difficulties and your triumphs. 

From this place Mindith Rahmat says to “Make a list of intentions, not wants and needs.” 

For years now, I have been practicing using the word “want” versus “have to,” “got to,” or “should.” A while back, I became aware of how saying “should” put me in a place of little to no power, and decided to shift my vocabulary. At first, it was very hard. Gradually, I began to notice that I was saying those words and then magically, pen in paper in hand, I was writing my New Year’s Resolutions and was shocked when I looked down at the page and saw that I had written “I want to go to the dentist every 6 months,” “I want to get my taxes in on time.” Super boring things I would have never thought I wanted, I did want! Even more shocking, both of those hopes happened that year and have happened each year since. I want to feel organized and responsible and taking care of the (sometimes) boring details helps me to feel that way. Karim Hajee says, “Having a desire is what fuels our ability to succeed.” 

From your place of presence, on your walk or at your altar, make a list of intentions, not shoulds. Even start your sentences with “I desire to...” or “I want to...”

Once you have a few, Mindith Rahma suggests to ask yourself “Are these focused, realistic, positive and healthy intentions?” You may have just a few or you may have many. 

Krysia Boinis, Vapour’s co-founder and CEO, lived a highly intentional year when she was healing from breast cancer. For a whole year, each month, she added one positive element to her life and eliminated one negative. One month, she cut refined sugar and added yoga, another month she was mindful about thinking negative things about herself and started meditating. Another month, she stopped using technology an hour before bed and started drinking 2 liters of water a day. Talking about that year fondly, Krysia says, “At the end of that year, I had 24 positive changes in my life.” 

While Krysia thrived during her year of 24 personal and professional advances, this kind of goal setting might overwhelm some of us, maybe even to a point of failure. Jonathan Mead says, “I don’t generally do well with goals, especially the ones that are quota or numbers based.” He also suggests being present with yourself and how your objectives might change. “What’s most important to me is to remember that I create intentions to be happy. If I cling too much, something needs to change.” A friend of mine has a new “theme” every year. And Mead agrees that having a theme can help you stay focused when things become challenging. 

More and more my desires have to do with how I want to feel. Sometimes, it’s my intention “to have fun,” and often, I set the intention to “be relaxed and present.” This last year on my birthday, I decided that my own personal new year’s intention was to be more confident. When teaching about manifesting, miracles expert Gabrielle Bernstein says “It’s the feeling more than the thought that creates the form.” 

As you spend time with yourself and your New Year's Intentions, remember that you’ll have each new day within your new year to set a whole new intention. Jack Kornfield says, “Each day we are born again, what we do today is what matters most.” 

How do you want to feel? What are your routines around setting intentions? Do you have any specific intentions for the next year you want to share with us? We’re all ears, or eyes, as it were.

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On 1/6/2015 Ashleigh wrote:

Thanks so much for your comments everybody! I wanted to share with you a New Year's writing project that I learned about from my friend Johanna. I am not even close to being finished with it yet, which makes me happy that I no longer believe January 1st is a magical day :) If you're a "pen and paper" kinda person, it's a good one:


On 12/31/2014 Allison wrote:

Thank you Ashleigh, I really enjoyed your blog. I love New Years, it has always been a time of reflection and hope around what is possible for me. I have made resolutions and been successful in keeping some of them. The encouragement to consider intention vs. resolution feels much more friendly! Happy New Year!

On 12/17/2014 Kelly wrote:

Thanks, Ashleigh, I appreciate the reminder of using altars for quieting the mind and listening to my truer intentions. I love building little altars, but I always forget to sit with and relate to them. It's also really inspiring hearing about Krysia's year of positive changes. I like the month-by-month approach! This seems like a great way to stay present with intentions as they grow and change.

On 12/17/2014 Freya wrote:

What a wonderful read! I have always been a big New Year's "Resolution" person. I love the idea of approaching your goals through intention and feeling. Normally, I have very serious intentions for the year, however, this year one of my goals was to increase my tolerance to spicy foods. I have never had so much fun embracing a goal- a good reminder that personal intentions can be silly too. :)

On 12/17/2014 Audrey wrote:

Year after year I make "resolutions" for changes I feel I should make for the New Year, and I continue to let myself down when I fail to meet the expectations. Thank you for a new perspective! The idea that each day can have a new intention makes me feel hopeful.

On 12/11/2014 Elise wrote:

I really loved this concept. It was so inspirational to approach the new year to reflect on what I want and what makes me happy. I think resolution is a hard word and can often times lose its meaning. I think this approach is gentler, but will provide more room for growth. Thanks for the great post!

On 12/10/2014 Miquela Mangum wrote:

I love this idea of intention instead of resolution. I like the question you pose at the end "How do I want to feel?" I reflect on that thought when faced with challenges. I have learned a lot about myself and my "wants" vs. "haves" by doing so. Thank you for laying out the road map for further reflection in 2015!

On 12/10/2014 ganga wrote:

Action follows intention! Thank you!

On 12/10/2014 Aura wrote:

Yes! I love working with the power of positive intention and journal my own each year- it is amazing to look back and see how much actually manifests without a feeling of pressure or "promise keeping". I love the idea of a theme too- I'm going to come up with a theme this year!! Yay!


On 12/9/2014 alice wrote:

wants vs. shoulds resonates with me for sure. I am inspired to work on my own intentions for this year!

On 12/9/2014 Liz wrote:

I love looking at Intention, vs Resolution. This is such a fresh approach to this season of change. Thanks so much, Ashleigh!

On 12/8/2014 krysia wrote:

The Holiday season can be a hectic time to stop and reflect on the fast approaching year ahead. Thank you for the gentle reminder to be with the changes that have occurred this year and to acknowledge changes both subtle and large. This reflection time is a wonderful first step in preparing to make intentions for the new year.

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