• Amanda McKinney

Ep. 26: How to set an intention for the New Year

Updated: Dec 31, 2019



As a yoga teacher, you’re used to setting an intention for a class but I hope you set an intention for your year too.


The idea of a 'New Year’s Resolution' was never my thing, but then I learned how to set a simple and powerful intention for the year. When I found that intention could be as simple as just ONE WORD, I was in!


This episode is all about how to set an intention that will serve not only your life, but your business too. As entrepreneurs, it’s nearly impossible to separate life and business. So why not set an intention that spans all areas of your life?


Why an intention, rather than a resolution?


The definition of a resolution is the act or process of resolving.


The definition of an intention is a determination to act in a certain way.


An example of a resolution starts from something being wrong, and needing to fix it. Many people set a resolution of losing 10 pounds in the next year. In some ways, that's a great goal. I totally understand setting a goal that has a time bound, measurable outcome. But when it comes to the year ahead, if I'm focusing on something wrong that I need to fix, it doesn't start the year off well, personally speaking.


Instead, the idea of an intention is making a statement about what you want something to be, going forward.


To bring it back to yoga, we meet our students where they are on the mat. As a yoga teacher, you've likely given permission to your students to set an intention for their practice in class. You encouraged them to be okay with where they are. You want to help them to avoid any comparison to others, or to past versions of themselves.


In the very same way, I want you to know that in this moment, there is nothing wrong with you. You don't need to resolve anything, and you’re not behind in any way. We can all live a little more intentionally, and feel good along the way. We can move forwards without reminders of past regrets, failures, or inadequacies. And we can use our intention to help us do that, every single day.


Are you in?


Simplicity - one-word intentions




Why I set a one-word intention


I like to choose a word instead of a long phrase or goal. I like to keep it simple so I can remember it. It’s easy to think about one word, or to write one word every day, to reinforce and strengthen focus when I need it.


“I'm not saying you have to change your entire life here. I'm saying that you pick a word instead of a phrase, and we live with that intention all the time.” - Amanda


This one-word intention is clear, focused and simple. To give an example, in 2019, my one-word intention was ‘acceptance’. For 2020, my one word intention is ‘ease’.

What will you choose? Use the following ideas to help you decide.


How to set your one-word intention


You've got time to decide this, no matter when you're doing this exercise. Your new year can start any time, it doesn't have to be January 1st. So when you're ready, let’s begin...

Clear your mind, and answer this question…


Q. How do you want to feel in 2020?


Think about the word that popped into your mind. Don't overthink the word, just be with that word. That is the word that I want you to think about.

Reflect on this. Sit with it. And try not to judge it.


Look back to help find your intention


Maybe a word flew into your mind, you feel great about it, and you already know your word.

But if you're still thinking on it, and not quite sure what you want it to be, look back and reflect on the past year. Then, answer this question:


Q. What would you like to change about last year?


Again, there's nothing wrong with us. We're not fixing something, we're just changing something so that we can live intentionally.


For further inspiration, read about my intentions, and how they worked for me...


My intentions last year - an example


In 2019 I wanted to feel focused. But I also wanted to feel a little bit more free in terms of my business and personal life. I wanted to feel lighter and free, so I picked the intentions ‘focused’ and ‘free’.


How it played out for me in business


In 2019, I really did focus on those intentions, and I set boundaries in my life that allowed me to stay super focused. Because of that, I accomplished a lot in 2019, and the growth of my business was huge. I'm happy to say that setting those boundaries allowed me to feel more focused, less scattered and definitely more free.


How it worked at home


We made some big shifts in our family dynamics in terms of boundaries of when we work. My husband and I had very similar goals, and that helped the intentions to work well at home.


Setting an intention is a practice




When you help yoga students to set an intention for the class, it’s good to remind them a few times in the class to bring that intention to mind. You can use this same principal to help you strengthen your personal intention for the year.


Don’t set it, and forget it


For your intention to stay in your focus and bring about the change you want to see, you need to absorb that word into your daily life. There's going to be a 1,000,000 things that happen on a daily basis, some of which will make us lose sight of our intention.


Figure out what you can do to remind yourself of that word, so you can keep your eyes on the prize.


Don't leave this to chance. Take matters into your own hands by putting things in place that will help you work with your intention. Use the following ideas to help you.


3 ideas to bring your one-word intention to mind every day


1. Write it down


How about journaling? If you already have a journal practice or you're thinking of starting one this next year or tomorrow, I encourage you to start today.


It doesn't need to have anything to do with your journal prompt for that day or anything. Simply write your intention at the top of the page each day. You don't have to write about that intention at all, all you have to do is write that word. Even doodle it on a piece of paper!


2. Put it somewhere you will see it


Put your intention on a sticky note on your computer, car dashboard, or on your mirror in the bathroom.


Add it as a background on your phone, or a screensaver on your computer.

Maybe get a sign printed and hang it up in your house, or look for a way you can stencil it onto a wall and make it look beautiful.


3. Listen to it


Set an alarm to remind you to say your intention out loud to yourself in the mornings.

Drop your word into conversations, or find a way of saying it to yourself when you do a certain thing, like when waiting in line at the store.


Consider others, but stay in your energy


Remember that this is your word. Your word doesn't need to be your partner's word or your kid's word or your friend's word. Your word is only yours, but sometimes your intention will affect other people. So share your intention with the people you're close with. This will help them to understand what you're aiming at, and even help you on your journey. This may be especially important when they hear you saying your intention out loud, over and over!


Final thoughts


In the moments when we feel the opposite of how we want to feel, we can ground ourselves and think ‘what can I do in this moment that will allow me to feel closer to my intention’.

We need to do this because we're not going to feel the way we want to feel, every second of every day. It’s just not realistic. But what we can do is focus on it, and try to get closer to it each day. Just like yoga, we need to practice this, and incorporate it into our lives.


“You have to be intentional with setting an intention.” - Amanda


Your next steps


  1. Write your one word intention down on a piece of paper

  2. Take a picture

  3. Tag me in an Instagram story so I can celebrate your word

I would be so excited to receive your intentions for 2020! And it will make it more powerful for you if you share it too.


Until next time, give yourself permission to set an intention today and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon.

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