Have you considered creating an emotional intention for the new year?

It’s never too late to set an intention for how you most want to feel. It colors the tone for your week, your day, or a challenging situation on the horizon.

The idea of intention setting is to create a phrase or anchor word that works like an affirmation. On its own, an affirmation isn’t a guaranteed solution for success, but it is a helpful tool for integrating change.

David Hanscom, MD, in his Psychology Today article “Affirmations and Neuroplasticity,” argues that “affirmations help us to challenge and defeat self-sabotaging thoughts. Just as we do repetitive physical exercise to get stronger, affirmations can be thought of as exercise for our mind/brain. Learning to think differently is part of how we learn to get rid of the pain pathways and replace them with new circuitry.”

Creating your own emotional intention for the new year is a great self-reflection exercise. It’s also an opportunity to feel less like a passenger on your life’s journey and more like a co-creator with some influence on how you move through the year.    

My word and emotional intention for 2022 is embrace. The last couple of years have been challenging, to say the least. With these challenges, it’s felt natural to brace for what might be around the corner.

The word embrace reminds me to tune inward and find comfort when faced with uncertainty. Rather than feeling overcome with fear, embrace reminds me to wrap my arms around my fear as a way of softening uncertainty and the challenges outside my control.

In a practical sense, embrace cues me to breathe deeply to help calm my nervous system in stressful situations. Thinking about my comfort word also reminds me to be more present and to embrace moments with my loved ones instead of rushing on to the next thing.

My emotional intention isn’t about changing who I am or becoming a better version of me. It’s about comforting myself during the many times I’m sure to slip off the path and feel angsty or edgy over the next year. My hope is to offer myself more embraces and to acknowledge that being on a human journey, now, is both wildly challenging and filled with blessings beyond measure. Embrace is an emotionally charged word I’ll draw on often throughout the next year to cushion my ride.

Here are 3 ways to create your own emotional intention — your parachute to support you through the next year.

1. Make it personal

Creating a meaningful and effective intention starts with tuning inward. While greeting cards and quotes on Pinterest might inspire your process, there is no wiser guide to what sounds and feels right than your own.

If meditation is your thing, you might ask the question before you meditate and notice how the answer comes to you with ease. Or head out into nature. The answer might find you when you’re breathing in fresh air and you’re not distracted with technology.

There is no need to overthink this process — you know better than anyone what your challenges include and what intention will best help you sail off into 2022.

2. Create reminders

To get the most out of an affirmation or emotional intention, put it into use! Yes, an intention is all about setting the stage for how you want to feel in the future. But it only really works if you exercise it in the present. This part really is all about play. Experiment. Make it fun.

If you’re headed into a meeting, a conversation, or perhaps a stressful situation, think about allowing your intention to influence how you talk or react. Check in with yourself after. How did that feel? Did it help? This practice is meant to be a tool to build you up, not beat you down. Don’t be hard on yourself if the experience doesn’t play out the way you hoped. Instead, regroup, offer yourself some comfort or whatever the flavor of your intention includes, and then move on.

Visible reminders of your intention will cue you to draw on the feeling most important to you. You could create a vision board featuring your word or phrase and display it where you’ll see it regularly. Or you could put your word on your mirror, bedside table, or screen saver. Get creative. Make your reminders your own, and they’ll inspire you to put your intention into play.

3. Anchor your day

Everyone on a human journey does two things each day: they wake up, and they fall asleep. It only makes sense to use this built-in blessing and ritual to activate your emotional intention. Start your day by thinking about your intention and how it feels to absorb some of that feeling into your being.

Before you drift off to sleep, think about how your intention has served you. Or simply reconnect with the word and the energy behind it without overthinking. Perhaps more of that intention will filter into your dream state or into the following day — but that might be getting ahead of ourselves!

The point is to have fun. The year will come and go, and the feelings and experiences we have are all that truly matters. Wishing you the very best 2022!

Article originally published on emilymadill.com


  • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse; WellthyLiving.ca; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: emilymadill.com