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Dreaming Your 2019: : Intention Setting That Works

Nov 29, 2018 10:18AM ● By Kelly Lydick

Many of us have had the same experience: We create a goal as a New Year’s resolution but don’t see it come to fruition. The intention is good, and the goal is well thought out, but follow-through somewhere along the way becomes a problem. Some of us may even use a vision board, or other visual cue or method to help the process, but that resolution still remains unrealized. This is because of the way the mind perceives duality and comprehends language.

The subconscious mind doesn’t process negatives, so when a person says to himself or herself, “I’m not going to eat sweets after 8 p.m.,” the mind only processes, “Eat sweets after 8 p.m.!” In terms of goal setting for the new year, this is a recipe for failure.

Further, the word “resolution” is a noun—a single thing that by definition means “the act or process of resolving,” meaning that to create a resolution is to create an end. Although it’s true that from a spiritual or philosophical perspective, an ending inherently means there is a space for a new beginning, most often, resolutions are used only to future goal set. And this, too, can create subconscious confusion. How can someone address the future while anchored by a definition that actually refers to the past? An ending can’t be used in place of a beginning—the deeper parts of the subconscious can’t reconcile this logic either, so this, too, inherently creates a setup for defeat.

So, what if there were a better way to ensure that goals would be met? What if instead of setting a resolution, setting an intention could better serve the desired outcome and process? Transitioning from resolution making (and ultimately resolution breaking!) to intention setting is simpler than it may seem.

Good intention setting and goal setting require only a few steps:

  1. Start with where you are right now. Today. Be honest.
  2. Set the intention with a goal in mind, and be clear and specific with the language used.
  3. Follow the intention with incremental, actionable steps. Start from where you are every day and work forward.
  4. Course correct when necessary.
  5. Let a higher power intervene.

In so many instances, goals don’t come to fruition because they are future projections, too far from the circumstances of the present moment. And when working with a future projection that doesn’t include incremental, actionable steps, it’s just too much of a leap from the present state of being to the end goal. Motivation wanes, feelings of failure set in, and soon, a person simply gives up altogether. First and foremost, good intention setting begins with where you are right now, and truthfully acknowledges the present moment and present state of being.

Beginning with the present moment looks something like this:

  • “I haven’t taken a real vacation in three years, and now it’s time to start thinking about my next destination.”
  • “I’d like to lose some weight, and I’m not that far from my ideal.”
  • “I’ve been spending a lot of time investing in my career, which can positively impact my family, but now it’s time to refocus on quality time with them.”
  • “I haven’t been putting away as much money into savings as I’d like, and now I see it’s time to adjust my spending to reach my financial goals.”

Accepting the present moment with honesty can sometimes be difficult, but it’s possible to be gentle and graceful, too. Internal criticism will only hinder progress. Honesty and authenticity will lend to better decision-making that supports a path that will lead to one’s goals. When a person starts from where he or she is and works to move forward, instead of focusing on the end goal and trying to work backward, there is a greater likelihood of success.

Intention setting also works best when paired with consistent, actionable steps. This is much easier to do from the present moment because being (and staying) fully present means that awareness can actually be focused on small, incremental progress, which can easily be tracked daily. Staying fully present also allows a person to genuinely enjoy and embrace his or her progress—which creates a quality of motivation that has the potential to continuously build upon itself, therefore making it easier to achieve the desired outcome. Small, incremental steps also lend to maintaining a positive outlook while in the process of moving toward a desired outcome. Small, easily achievable steps can actually boost motivation. Small wins feel big!

As with the earlier examples, taking incremental, actionable steps can look like this:

  • “This week, I’ll purchase healthier food and skip the take-out at lunch.”
  • “This week, I’ll start by researching destinations to determine if a beach vacation or adventure is right for the next trip.”
  • “I’ll set aside Tuesday for dinner and game night with the family. And Saturday, perhaps we can go to a movie or the zoo.”
  • “I’ll deposit $40 into my savings account today.”

Starting at the place from where you are every day and working forward with consistency will bring forward momentum toward the goal that is intended. And when progress can be easily tracked, it also becomes easier to course correct if progress becomes slightly off track from the intended goal.

Lastly, it’s all too important to be open to letting a higher power intervene. So often, intention setting and goal setting are a result of ego-based desires. If an intention doesn’t materialize, stay open to the idea that the timing may not be appropriate, or that something even better may be setting itself up in the path. Allowing the space for some fluidity around intention setting can often bring better results than what the mind projects as an outcome.

So this year, instead of claiming a New Year’s resolution, try setting an intention instead. Get honest about today, make a plan, and look forward to a bright future.


Kelly Lydick holds a Master of Arts in writing and consciousness. Her writing has appeared in CO Yoga + Life, Natural Awakenings, Santa Fean, and True Blue Spirit magazines, as well as on the home page of Her work has also been featured on National Public Radio’s The Writers’ Block. She is the author of the experimental Mastering the Dream and is a contributing author to Dreams That Change Our Lives. She is a member of the co-founding editorial team and associate editor of Immanence Journal. Lydick holds certifications as a meditation facilitator, reiki master, crystal reiki master, and Gateway Dreaming coach. She teaches creative writing and personal growth workshops, and offers private consultations through her company, Waking the Dream. For more information, visit