10 Things I learned from a year of intentions

10 things I learned from a year of intentions
(my actual kitchen table).

Through 2015, at the beginning of each month, I made a plan for the month ahead; my intentions for the month. They were part of a bigger plan but I wanted to avoid goals made in January for the year ahead and lost by February.

The aim was for monthly ‘intentions’ that would keep me focussed and on track.

I wrote a blog post and I put my intentions in the form of objects on my kitchen table for a small photo call. In making a plan each month, I looked back at the month before to see what (if anything) I’d achieved.

If anyone else is thinking about plans for 2016 (monthly or otherwise) I’d thought I’d share what I learnt:

1. The power of loud

There is weight in publicly stating a plan or intention. You’ve said it out loud (or on a blog post). It becomes a commitment, more so than making notes that only you see.

2. Reflect

Taking time to plan is grand. I found that sometimes I needed to remind myself to reflect, look back at the month just gone; what I didn’t get done. Mostly, what I did get done.

3. Just do it

I did waiver part way through the year, was tempted to skip a month, maybe stop. I’m pleased I stuck with monthly intentions. It gave me more focus and time to reflect each month. I wanted to avoid that feeling of weeks and months merging and a lack of control of my time.

4. Balance

All work and no play is dull and de-motivating. Balance is important. Plan good things as well as more focussed jobs and goals.

5. Attainable

Too many intentions or not enough time and it is easy to get over-whelmed. In August I knew I’d probably just read books and I did.

6. Keep the bigger stuff in view

The aim of the monthly intentions was to make the bigger goals more achievable. Breaking down plans to improve the house help me maintain focus. However, I did lose sight of some of the bigger stuff by not referring back. Smaller intentions can become a great method of procrastination .

7. Make specific plans

In February the plan was to visit a snowdrop garden. I had a garden in mind and a weekend. Sometimes it pays to be specific. I kept reiterating a vague plan to visit “new” National Trust places, we managed one.


8. Be brave

I started the year but doing something that really scared me. I really loved it. I wanted to do more ‘scary’ stuff. To challenge myself a bit more. I’ve been at home so long I often wonder if I have any skills left. I wasn’t brave enough. I waited for things to fall into my lap. They didn’t. Fear of failure prevented me finding my own opportunities and nothing happened. By the end of year had huge self-doubt and talked myself out of projects. I’m not sure I’ve cracked this one.

9. Get a cheer leader

Being a home equals a small week day circle of interaction. Days go past and I’ve spoken briefly to someone at the school gate, my partner (probably as briefly) and a 7-year-old about Lego. I’ve also lurked on social media admiring other people’s sparkling lives and so self-doubt creeps in. Plans, goals, intentions (especially big ones) need encouragement and outside perspective. Having a cheer leader made all the difference, hearing someone else reminding you that you can do it. Make it mutual: tell someone they are awesome, but don’t just fling positive words around, tell them why.

10. It’s OK to not get it all done

Intentions are only that; an aim or a plan. Time is often gobbled up by things beyond your control. Somethings take more money that you appreciated or currently have. The intention was there, you will probably come back to it or maybe you just gave it some thought and realised it wasn’t for you. That’s OK.


My January intentions for 2016 are here.


  1. Molly

    I think this is a brilliant way of keeping on track and one that I might steal for myself. And it’s always good to look back on a year as well as forward. I think I’m definitely guilty of not taking stock on what I’ve actually done or learned enough and am often too hasty to hurtle onto the next thing. x

  2. Sadie Hanson

    I loved this post! And I love the idea of intentions instead of broad brush strokes. It breaks everything down nicely and makes everything much more manageable. I must apply this to my life too! Lovely… X (ps. This is Older Mum in a Muddle).

  3. Tracey @ mummyshire

    I remember reading your intentions post last year *was it really that long ago?* and it’s great to see how you’ve progressed. Intentions are such a great way of breaking down your desires and easier to achieve. Sounds like you’ve had a great year 

  4. Penny

    Really interested to read this, nodding along wildly. Well done, massive cheer, I get the sense you’ve really benefitted from this, as have all the other people you have influenced along the way. I remember you saying to me that if just one person is influenced by a post that’s amazing – I think your intentions must have had a lovely ripple effect 🙂 Have a great 2016 x

  5. Emma

    Lovely post Gemma, I am terrible for having lots of grand plans, that I never manage to execute and end up feeling like a failure, I don’t write anything down, so have ideas then then get forgotten, pushed back to an area of my brain that then gets taken over with gymnastics and swim classes.

    I’m hoping to be calmer this year and I really like the idea of taking the time to reflect. xx

    Good luck with all your intentions too, and I hope to see you at some point this year. x

  6. Purple Ella

    I have enjoyed your intentions posts and they inspired me to start my own. Sadly I didn’t manage the whole year but it was useful all the same. Happy to be a cheerleader whenever you need, you know I think you’re aces! 

  7. Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely

    Gemma, I’ve totally fallen in love with monthly intentions so am planning to do the same during 2016. Thank you for the inspiration. However, I’m going to focus on just the little nice things that I’d like to do or try or visit. You’re absolutely right in what you write, the moment you put it out there, it becomes a target rather than a wishy washy wishlist. Off to read your January intentions now!!

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