Helping Teens With Setting Intentions

As the year comes to a close and the start of a new one approaches, many of us are looking ahead, and setting goals for the future. As a teen, thinking about the future may be daunting, and setting goals for teens may seem almost impossible, especially in these uncertain times. This is where intentions come in.

An intention is not the same as a goal. An intention is a general idea or a wish for the future, without any specific plans. This could mean a very small act such as having a stress-free day, or a longer-term intention such as working in a desired career. Setting intentions is often a much more effective tool than goal setting for teens. Although it doesn’t sound concrete, there are still many ways to fulfill an intention by choosing one they are passionate about, focusing in on it, and taking direct action. 

Tips for Setting and Keeping Intentions

Write it Down

Although most teens have shifted their communication online, putting pen to paper does have a real effect on the brain. Writing down their intentions will help teens to really absorb it, think about it, and focus on it. Be sure to remind them to be as specific as possible when writing down their desired achievements.

Create Action Steps

Because an intention doesn’t necessarily include the steps needed to achieve it, it’s important to outline these specific steps. Try asking your teen questions such as: What exactly do you need to do to accomplish your intention? What would be the first step? Are there any obstacles, and if so, how would you overcome them?

Use Visual Imagery

Many people have success with using guided imagery to create their intentions. For example, have your teen visualize what their future looks like, where they are, what they are doing. Then, they will be able to pull tangible intentions from this picture they’ve created. Not only does visualizing help to create intentions, it also causes our brain to react as if what we are picturing is really happening, making it easier to move towards it.

Create a Vision Board

A great way to practice visualization is creating a vision board. This is not only a good way for your teen to remember their intentions on a daily basis, but seeing it each day actually has a real impact on the way our brains work. Plus, it can be fun for them to make. Vision boards can be anything from drawings to words, magazine clippings or photos that resonate with them and their intentions. Or, they can try creating one online using sites like Pinterest or Canva, so their vision board can go with them anywhere.

Set a Time Frame

Intentions can vary widely in how small or large they are, and therefore how long they would take to accomplish. In order for your teen to stay motivated towards their intention and to avoid getting overwhelmed, have them set a time frame in which they want to achieve their intention, or a smaller action step that gets them closer to it.

Generate Rewards

Although the intention itself does often serve as the reward, it can be much easier for teens to stay on track with a little bit of incentive along the way. Did they complete an action step? Have them reward themselves for doing so! This is a great way for them to stay positive and celebrate their achievements.

At Tilly’s Life Center, we are committed to shaping positive and motivated teens, and one important aspect of this is helping them to set intentions. This is why we created our “Imagine Positive Possibilities” workshop, which allows teens to think about goals in a new way, cultivate positive intentions, and set tangible steps to reach them.