What is intention?
The dictionary offers the following definitions:
“Determination to act” and “the product of attention” – this resonates with me. It speaks to the fact that intentions are more than wishes, they require considerable attention and a level of determination to act, or to move beyond mere thought or idea.
The power of intention has the ability to transform our lives. Without intention, we remain stuck in the realm of wishes and wants, which might explain why we often feel that we lack direction and that we are not living the life we imagine for ourselves. Without intention, we feel unfulfilled.
When we set an intention, it gives us a purpose or a “why”. When we are clear on our “why” it is easier to remain focused on what we want to achieve – our determination to act. We can all think about how driven and fulfilled we've felt in the past when we had a purpose. Alternatively, we also can recall times when we needed to accomplish something but we lacked purpose. There is likely a remarkable difference between what we achieved and how we felt about our achievement!
I like to think of intentions as a step beyond goal setting. Setting an intention is taking a goal that we have already set and turning our attention to why this goal is important. What is the purpose of the goal? How does this goal align with other things of importance in our lives? This goes beyond merely being able to check a goal off a list, with an intention our goal is aligned to something greater, like our values.
How do we set intentions?
Take dreams seriously. Too often we push our dreams away. Maybe we think they are impossible to achieve, or maybe we fear what others will think of us. But if we have a dream or dreams and we just can’t seem to let it go, maybe it is time to move the dream from fantasy to reality. We can do this by setting intentions. When we have true intention to do something, it becomes real and brings our dreams to life.
Declare your intentions. There are different schools of thought on this. Some people think it is essential that we make our intentions known to the world so we can be held accountable. Others think that when we share our intentions, we may face opposition or ridicule or skepticism, even from those closest to us, and this can derail us. Maybe a compromise is to share your intentions with people you trust and people who will be supportive. Whichever option, remain determined, and remember that in sharing our intentions, we are not asking for approval.
Take action every day. Whether our intentions are large or small, we need to do something every day that moves us a step forward toward our intentions. Even if the step for the day is a very small one, it's positive progress that helps build momentum and leads to something big over time.
Learning how to use the power of intention is exhilarating! It frees you to be the best you can be and brings you a life worth living well. Enjoy it with all the gusto you've got!