Updated: Dec 2, 2020
What is an Intention?
An intention is the starting point behind every dream, goal, and action.
An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to be, the way you want to live and show up in your own life. If you drive to work at a safe speed, although in delay, the real intention that guides you is safety, turning punctuality into a secondary concern.
Setting an intention is the first step to create the reality that your authentic self wishes to live. Authenticity plays an important role in developing a deeper intention as it allows you to be true to your inner values. It makes your intention independent of how others think about you, letting go of fear and self-criticism.
Your intentions, conscious or unconscious, influence your behavior and have consequences for yourself and others. The root of our intention will show our level of carefulness and how we want to contribute to this world. The phrase "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" reminds us to ponder our intentions and their results, making us responsible for the negative or positive outcome of our actions towards ourselves and others. This personal responsibility establishes the significance of setting intentions with awareness.
When you set a conscious intention, you bring receptivity, space, and openness to what you want to call into your life. It comes from your deeper self and aligns your heart, thoughts, and actions to create the change and new habits you wish.
The clarity of your conscious intention sheds light on the path ahead, making you aware of what you want to do at any given moment. If I go to the forest for a walk and I intend to be more serene, I will be more aware when thoughts around my problems arise. I can then make a change and let go of these negative thoughts. I can decide to observe the beautiful nature around me, shift my thoughts into positive ones, or focus on my breath to guide me to a more tranquil state of mind.
A conscious intention is the driving force behind your goals! You are in the driver's seat of your life instead of being driven through your life. Understanding the why behind each goal brings a sense of purpose, of who you are and what you stand for.
It is powerful to convert your conscious intention into constructive action to manifest it in your life, experiencing a profound sense of satisfaction. For instance, a leader's statement can be "I intend to encourage people to find their potential". Once this leader supports another person's development, it provides a path for positive impact while generating value.
That's the Power of Intention and the beginning of personal fulfillment.
What are the differences between Intention and Goal?
1. A goal is related to external achievements.
An intention relates to how you want to be in your life.
Example: "I want to get promoted" vs. "I intend to be more serene and recognize the value of others at work".
2. Goals are focused on the future.
An intention focus on each present moment.
3. Goals have associated expectations, which are tangible and measurable.
Intentions are guiding principles lived each day with awareness, independent of the outcome of your goal.
4. Setting a goal is a cognitive process of analyzing and planning.
Setting intentions is heart-centered, a call for self-connection and authenticity.
For instance, my intention can be, "I intend to be healthier and kind to myself." A possible goal is losing weight. The action may be eating more vegetables or /and go to the gym.
Relevant Inquiries to
Awake your Intentions
You can set an intention before starting any activity by asking, "How do I want to feel?" or "How do I want to be?". Before a meeting, maybe you would like to be nonreactive to an unpleasant college or communicate with more assertiveness? In a yoga class, would you like to be more serene? Allow yourself to take a few moments to discover the answer to these questions, and then, you will know what to do.
There are other general intentions for a more extended time, like a week, a month, or even a year. A valuable exercise is to select a word for a week like "confidence", "love", "laugh," or "acceptance" and think how you want to be using that concept.
Additionally, you can use intentions that can translate your life purpose. Some useful and personal investigations can be:
- What really matters to me?
- What am I grateful for?
- What is the legacy I want to leave behind me?
- What makes me feel happy?
An intention statement can be formulated as negative or positive. Although sometimes it is valuable for some of us to employ a negative expression, this type of sentence will activate one part of the brain related to self-sabotage, which may adversely influence your actions. The positive formulation acts as a catalyst to see the big picture instead of focusing on one small part of the puzzle. A positive intention statement is more informative and highlights inspirational ways of living, creating a higher receptivity. If you want to work less, you can write a sentence like "I intend to have more fun!" or "I intend to be more joyful!". Trust yourself and be creative!
Once you are practicing your intentions, it is periodically relevant to inquire about your experience. Am I honoring my intention?, what do I wish I have done differently?, or what is here so meaningful to me? are possible inquiries. The answers can give you clear insights. At the same time, you uncover if your goals and actions are still aligned with your actual intention when you look at them with self-compassionate discernment.
The power to personally develop over time is inside of every one of us. The previous inquiries and exercises can be an opening point to explore if your intentions changed or expanded to something else. A person may have started to meditate to be more serene, which may evolve to a mindful way of living, adjusting the intention to the practice of compassion towards oneself and others.
Setting conscious intentions and acting according to them is like a muscle; it takes time and practice. Especially at the beginning, it is common to forget your intentions in your busy day. Please be kind to yourself as there's no need to apply self-judgment if that happens. This practice will prosper and be more present inside of you over time. When you start over, and you reconnect to your intention, celebrate it! You are taking a step further to be in alignment with your inner values and authenticity.
What are your intentions for today? Do your daily actions resonate with your inner values? What activities are more meaningful to you? Allow yourself to consciously notice your intentions throughout your day and reflect on how you let them guide your actions. How is this awareness shaping your life?