One of the simplest ways to make really radical and fast changes in our life is to be intentional. Specifically, we should set an intention each and every day for how we want that day to go, what we’re going to focus on, what ultimate result we’re looking for, or how we want to feel. Setting such intentions is the difference between an undirected, unconscious day and having focus for our energy and a frame through which we can become more conscious.
Intention serves a couple of different purposes. Foremost, it helps us more easily and more readily get from point A to point B. Furthermore, it helps us create more of what we want as we become more aware and conscious of our wants and needs. It also helps us get clearer about what is in our way.
Overall, by being intentional, we become more conscious. One of the things that I have clients do is to develop a practice—a specific activity that you do in order to raise your consciousness. This works because you craft the specific activity, time, place, and frame, allowing you to see things more completely. For example, if you are practicing compassion, you might choose a daily activity that helps you understand what compassion really means and how to be compassionate more effectively. Instead of being compassionate “just because” or only when the mood strikes you, you are now doing it in a specific way at a specific time; this frame allows you to see compassion differently.
The foundation of any practice is being intentional. So, if there is a way that we would like to move through our life, if there is a result that we would like to see, the easiest and best way to get there is to be clear about it beforehand. If you were traveling to a town that you had never been to before and you didn’t know its name, even if you knew what direction it was in, it would be very difficult to know when you arrived there. You simply would not have clear knowledge of it. When we clarify what we want from a specific period of time, being intent not only helps us to get there—it helps us to see that we are there.
When we set an intention, it helps to align our heart, mind, and energy with that intention. This means that we are more likely to act in ways that are in alignment with our intention without even thinking about it—setting an intention is like laying down a track for where we want to go.
The best way to work with intentions is to experiment with them. This can be as simple as waking up in the morning and writing down what your intention is for that particular day. You could establish a specific designated time to spend at your altar or some other special spot in your home where you clarify how it is that you’d like to move through your day or what you would like to feel. This experiment will lead you to a deeper understanding of intention and its benefits.
As you experiment with your intentions, you may notice moments in which reactivity overtakes intentionality. Check out my article “When Reaction Beats Intention” for clues on how to turn reactions into responses –> When Reaction Beats Intention
When we react rather than act with intention, it shapes our experience and our outcome. When we are reactive, we simply respond to a stimulus that we have encountered. This can be a person, place, or thing. Usually, our reaction is unconscious. We just do whatever happens as a result. For example, a person comes into the room, they say something to us, and we immediately respond with whatever is true for us in that moment. This could be something beneficial that really makes the situation run quite smoothly. Or, it could be the type of reaction that’s more defensive or problematic, and as a result it creates a disruption or challenge. Either way, it’s simply a response that is not considered.
On the other hand, being intentional means that, regardless of the stimulus we experience, we have a reason for our response. So in other words, if we want to build connection, or clarity, or what have you, then we respond in a certain type of way to accomplish that desire. Intention requires that we know what it is that we want to do in a particular moment and that we guide our actions accordingly. It is the difference between flying by the seat of our pants and guiding the experience.
As you can probably quite easily see, there are times when being more intentional might be very beneficial and help to shift things in a positive way. In our life, we can pay attention to where our intentional efforts might benefit others and ourselves the most. Then we can put a little bit more effort and consciousness into those areas so that we can create more of what we want in life. Conversely, if we do not take the time to be intentional, especially in important situations, our outcome can be hit or miss.
As much as intention is a tool to create more of what we want, it is not as simple as just coming up with a scenario we would like to create and then moving forward. Being intentional is a much more nuanced skill than that. Intention is about bringing our whole self into alignment with what we intend. The first step is getting clarity about how we would like things to go. Then, we have to bring ourselves into a state of being that is in alignment with this clarity. And, once we have, our final task is to surrender our expectations and our need for control and allow our actions to be guided. This final step is of extreme importance. If we do not surrender, we are merely managing the situation—not being intentional. This is just a sophisticated form of reaction.
To put this in action, we need to take the following steps. If we are going about our daily life and we want to be more intentional, we only need to get clear, bring ourselves into alignment, and surrender—but if we have already become reactive, it requires a couple more steps. For example, if someone says something to you that makes you feel activated or triggered, then the first step is to clear the negative reaction. We have to get out of the emotional reaction first before it is possible to take actions to be more intentional. When we are triggered, it may be impossible to know what it is that we would like to have as a positive outcome, let alone how to best create it. Regardless of whether or not you know, the first step is to clear the negative reaction—then we can start being more intentional.
Finally, we need to add skills to the mix. Setting our intention is essential; however, if we are lacking a certain skill that would help us act in a way that would bring our intention into being, we may still fall short of our mark. So, part of our process is also learning skills that support our intention becoming a reality. All of this this allows us to actively construct our life in a way that is most pleasing, satisfying, and beneficial.
If you’re looking to dive deep into your intentions and what might be obstructing them, you may be interested in a Breakthrough Intensive. Find out more here –> Breakthrough Intensive with Dr. Kate
Intention is the tool that takes us from the way things have been—the way we have been operating—to where it is that we want to go. Within our intention is the understanding that something else is possible, whether this is a change in direction entirely or a more continuous experience than we have experienced in the past. Our intention aligns us with our deepest truth and most intimate longings.
Often, when we look at ourselves, our lives, or our behaviors, we do so because we are evaluating how we got to a certain point. We ask ourselves questions such as “what has been true for me” and “what has contributed to where I am in this moment?” These types of questions have us looking at who we have been and how we got to the present moment, regardless of whether the present moment is great or not so great. It is actually much more productive to examine ourselves in a forward-reaching way, rather than retrospectively through our prior behavior.
Our intention focuses on where we are going to go and what is it that we want for the future. How is it that I want to construct my moments moving forward? Our intention might lead us into an entirely different experience or solidify a newfound one. Intention directs us to what we want, what we desire to create, and our next phase of evolution. Because of this, it is an incredibly helpful tool to guide us through life.
Additionally, as we set our intention, we create a frame for our understanding, providing a tool for us to evaluate what it is that we are wanting and doing. It helps us to become that much more informed about who we are and what it is that we want. When we form an intention, it allows us to see where we are in line with that intention and where we might be off track. For example, we might set an intention and then realize that it was not exactly what we wanted. In this way, setting an intention helps us learn about ourselves and the directions in which we want to advance. So the more that we are intentional, the more we can understand our desires, their impacts, and what is in our way. This brings a high degree of awareness into our lives.
So my suggestion is to find a way of bringing more intention into your day, whether that means setting an intention to start your day or any other certain period of time—for example, before your meals, before you leave to go somewhere, as you’re getting in your car, before you begin a new task, before you reach out to someone, or any other time that is a beginning or a moving forward. Any of these initial moments can be a time to get clear and to get intentional; then you can watch how that shifts your perception and how it also changes your outcome.
If you need a little encouragement on your way, take a look at these 16 Quotes on Positive Intention That Will Inspire Your Soul.
I. Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.
II. “Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” — Brenna Yovanoff
III. “Intention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy- a power that can carry us. It’s the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don’t let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse- when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. You get to a point where you realize that you’re no longer in charge, that there’s a driving force inside you that can’t be stopped. Look at the great athletes, musicians, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source.” — Wayne Dyer
IV. “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link” — Carlos Castaneda
V. “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” — Bryant McGill
VI. “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” — Seneca
VII. “It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” — Walt Kelly
VIII. “You’ve got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realize that all there is left then is time management. You’ll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you’re trying to achieve in your life.” — Patch Adams
IX. “The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.” — Gary Zukav
X. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” — William A. Foster
XI. “Energy is directed by intention into action. If the action is not happening, if you’re finding excuses to not do whatever you set out to do, revisit your intention. Perhaps you were not being honest with yourself. Where is your energy flowing instead? That is where your intention sits.” — Akiroq Brost
XII. “Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it.” — David duChemin
XIII. “Gratitude in advance is the most powerful creative force in the Universe.” — Neale Donald Walsh
XIV. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — Wilfred Arlan Peterson, The Art of Living, Day by Day
XV. “Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity. Our attention then becomes a spotlight for every shred of supporting evidence that we’re on the right path.” — Jennifer Williamson
XVI. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau
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