The word intention has many nuances, yet ultimately means one thing: a goal. Intention is aim, hope, motive, object, point. Act or instance of becoming mentally determined to pursue a particular result. A purpose or goal that is succinctly planned. Purpose, meaning or importance. The direction or orientation of the mind.
Most of us have a ton of choices every day. It’s easy to just go with the flow, get lost in the day and waste hours of potential for growth, for peace, for contributing to family or society, for being a friend. Social media, the news of the day, health or parenting concerns, and a host of other distractions the world dishes out draws us in and away from what really matters. Strong intentions are necessary for following your desired path, no matter how simple or complex.
What really matters?
What matters depends on who you are. What is significant, what is meaningful to you? When is the last time you really thought about this, and when is the last time you planned your time intentionally to fulfill a purpose? Whether you’ve been kicking around plans for a new business in your mind or getting your closet cleaned and organized would make your life easier, you’re going to have to put some intention into getting what is meaningful to you accomplished. You really were put where you are on purpose, via God’s intention and His invention. You have an inner calling to move in one direction or another, and there is peace if not satisfaction and joy in pursuing that calling.
What intention does
I tend to read two or three books at a time. The books I’m reading right now keep bringing me back to choices I have to make – intentions I need to follow through on for my health, finances, spiritual growth, and the mundane every day stuff that can easily get out of hand. The book that spawned this post, The 5 A.M Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast, speaks to the benefits of getting up early to carve out time for what matters. In the first chapter, author Jeff Sanders says, “… a grand life lived with intention, pursued with ambition, and rewarded with transformation”. A grand life lived with intention. That spoke to me.
Grand life doesn’t mean wealthy, well-traveled, famous. You get to define what a grand life is for you. For me, it’s having energy to support family, friends and the church when there is a need. My grand life is filled with laughter, love and time in the garden. I don’t always make those goals a priority, though – I often live without intention.
How to create intention
While I hope if you’ve read this far that you’ve started thinking about your intentions and how they affect your goals, I am writing this to get my thoughts down on electronic paper regarding how vital intention is to living a fulfilling life. What intention boils down to is real choice, not just what you meant to do but what you set your mind to do. To establish my goals and then determine what my intentions are, I need to do a brain dump every once in a while as I discussed in the post, Spinning Wheels and Open Loops. I write everything I want to do or need to do on a piece of paper, separating the wants and needs. Both are important, but I have to separate them so that I choose some from both columns. If I don’t do this, I ignore what I want to do and just focus on tasks that need to be done, which leads me to burn out. I need to have some of what I want to do in the mix to stay engaged with the joy of life. From there, I choose a few projects or activities and break them down into steps. Some items are as simple as making a phone call or an email, others require further thought, planning or materials to complete. Then, I put the tasks that will bring my intended goals to fruition on my calendar or my to do list (I use Google Calendar and ToDoist in addition to a paper planner.
Where the mind goes, the man follows. ~ Joyce Meyer
At this point, you probably think I’m going to say that this system has made me wildly successful. Nope. Not always, but often enough that I know the value of getting my goals down on paper and then creating a realistic plan. I get most steps done on my list or calendar, then inevitably get pulled away by some crisis, busy-ness or simply by getting too tired to care because I’ve not been intentional (there’s that word again!) with maintaining my health or I let myself get pulled into social media for a few hours. That’s when I start over again with the brain dump. No use beating myself up over drifting! Just move forward.
Adjust, practice, choose
True intention involves habits that we have to develop and fine tune by our choices and by anticipating circumstances we’ll need to adjust to in order to reach goals. A habit is developed through practice. Keep practicing choices that move your toward your goals. When you slip up, just regroup and start over again. Don’t let the lie of discouragement pull you away from what you are called to do, whether it’s vacuuming the floor more often, writing a thesis, contributing to a nonprofit organization, building a business or what ever your heart calls you to that benefits others as well as yourself.
- The definitions for intention came from studying via Thesaurus.com, AP Stylebook and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.