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Why You Should Set Monthly Intentions—Yes, Really

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Photo: Instagram / @omandthecity

Instagram influencers do some weird stuff in the name of getting more followers, likes, and endorsement deals (looking at you, people who promote detox tea cleanses).

But here's one influencer trend that's actually pretty awesome: setting monthly intentions.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy November babes. This month, I’m working on it. 1. Unpacking my white privilege. I’ve enrolled in @rachel.cargle’s 30 day course to examine my privilege and educate myself on how to be apart of the solution. Once my eyes were opened to this I could not turn away, and I realized turning away is white privilege. When unpacking privilege, it’s normal to feel defense, shame, guilt, discomfort, like the world around you is falling apart. But these feelings are nothing compared to what POC feel on a daily basis. I’m still learning, growing, and seeing what I can do to use my voice to be apart of the solution- but I’m committed and f*cking ready to do the work. It’s gonna be so worth it. If you are ready to #dothework, too, you can head to @rachel.cargle’s page and check out the link in her bio. 2. I’ll never be “fearless”. Fear is part of the human experience. But it’s all about how I handle myself when I am face to face with my fear. Do I quit? Move forward? React? Distract? Do the habitual thing? Or do I sit with it. 3. Listening to the voice in my head, the ego, stops me from growing. It keeps me in my little bubble. When I stop and listen to my gut, intuition, heart, etc., that’s when life gets juicy! I mean, this could be an intention every month amirite?! 4. STOP SCROLLING when you’re HALTS! HALTS stands for hungry/angry/lonely/tired/sad or sick. When I’m HALTS, social media never makes me feel better, its just a lazy distraction. Always working on becoming more intentional with my social media use. 5. Camp- looking forward to camping with my bestie in a few weeks! I used to camp much more, and in recent years I’ve been lacking in favor of working. As I get older it gets harder to plan weekends away as the responsibilities build up- but boy, are they so worth it. What are you working on this month? Share with #LFAintentions.

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Basically, people take to Instagram to share their goals for the month, which are often accompanied by pretty illustrations.

But these goals aren't focused on weight loss, fitness PRs, or even career achievements. Instead, they mainly revolve around self-care and personal development. Instead of writing that they want to get promoted, lose the last 5 pounds, or reach 100K followers, people are setting intentions such as: get more sleep, listen to your body, and say "yes" even when it scares you. (Related: Why You Should Consider a Gratitude Journal Instead of a Food Journal)

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The theme of my month is to slow down, create space, and take it all in (although, I could argue it’s the theme of my life too). Here are my 3 simple intentions: 1. Keep December OPEN for new ideas, reflection, and time with family and friends. 2. Create even more SPACE in my schedule, home, and heart. Be very intentional about physical and mental things I allow in. 3. Start mapping out 2019 ideas, plans, hopes, and streeeetch goals. Embrace my ability to plan and take action, because it's a strength. *And lastly, it is always my intention to be grateful. So, I'll continue to meditate on it, journal it, and feel it. ~ What are some of your #NovemberIntentions? I can't believe we're almost at the end of yet another year. I think this year flew by quicker than any year of my life. No kidding. ~ #goalsetting #monthlyintentions #omandthecity #simplifyyourlife #mindfulnessmatters #sustainableliving #matchalover #morningritual #createyourhappy #simplifyandthrive

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But can setting these types of intentions actually help you reach your self-care goals?

Actually, yes, according to experts. "Setting intentions and goals is an extremely useful practice," says Andrea Gottlieb, Ph.D., a psychologist at Sheppard Pratt Health System. "Many people probably do this in their head all the time, but sitting down to write this out makes you more likely to follow through. Intention setting can help people be more present—more mindful—in their day-to-day lives. Waking up and thinking about your intention can be like a compass guiding your day, your week, your month."

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Keeping my intentions simple this month, just trying to get back to the basics #holisticlyss

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So yeah, it's a good idea! Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips from mental health experts to start you on the path to creating meaningful monthly intentions. (These gratitude journals under $20 can also help.)

Write them down. Colorful illustrations are just a bonus, but you definitely want to write down your intentions. "The act of getting our thoughts out on paper helps you be less judgmental and more compassionate to yourself. Writing it down can also help you hold yourself accountable," says Gottlieb.

Start small. Keep your intentions achievable, especially in the beginning, recommends Kelley Kitley, a licensed psychotherapist. For example, set intentions to be more present in conversations, practice saying no, or take a 30-minute walk each day. "When we are successful with small intentions, it helps build confidence to achieve bigger intentions," says Kitley.

Consistency is key. "Keeping a daily, weekly and monthly journal that you can write down your intentions and how you want to feel each morning can be an extremely useful practice," says Sarah Thacker, a licensed therapist and yoga teacher. "Reflecting on your intentions at the end of the day allows for the accountability to check in with yourself and actions while creating a space for self-awareness and growth. Reflecting at the end of the week and month offer the same, while also encouraging movement in the direction of healthy change and self-development." (Related: How to Use "Design Thinking" to Achieve Your Goals)

Don't be afraid to share them. "Writing intentions down serves as a visual reminder of the commitment you are making to yourself, whether it is in the form of personal development, self-care or professional achievement," notes Michael Genovese, M.D., J.D., a psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Acadia Healthcare. "I also recommend sharing these intentions, if that's something you're comfortable doing, so you're leveraging the known benefits of a solid support network. By letting others in on what you're setting out to achieve, you may find an accountability partner, motivator, or cheerleader within your circle of influence—all hugely important support roles you'll need on your journey to success."

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