What is intention and why does it matter?
In this month’s blog, I’d like to write about intention. This is topical as many of us are trying to follow through on our New Year’s resolutions. As well as coming up with some goals, how about considering the intention behind your resolutions?
What is intention?
Definition: An intention is idea that you plan (or intend) to carry out.
Intention can be thought of as being made up of the following three elements:
Where are you turning your attention to? What is important to you right now? There is a saying ‘Energy flows where your attention goes’.
What actions have you committed to? Do these align with where you are turning your attention towards? You want your actions to have impact.
Do you have a positive attitude towards your goals? Are you consciously aligning yourself (bringing head, heart, spirit and body) towards generating personal power and effective action?
 See The Mindfulness Playbook by Dr Barbara Mariposa
Behind where we place our attention, all our actions and our attitude lies an intention. Intention is important and is always present in everything we do, whether we are aware of it, or not. Often, we are not conscious of it and can only see it retrospectively. An example of this is where we are anxious about something and so our thoughts go towards thinking about this event. It can often be about an event in the future. So, subconsciously, without it being useful, we could be paying all our attention to this. If we can be mindful of what we pay attention to, then we can change our thoughts. In this way, we can pay attention toward the present and what we need to get done now. We can also purposely think about the future and our goals (or New Year’s resolutions) in a positive way.
Intention and purpose
Intention is aligned with purpose. If we have a clear purpose, then we give meaning to everything that follows. Intention is important as it directs us towards our goals. When intention is unconscious, or we are not aware of it, our focus will get fuzzy. The messages we give out to others, as well as to ourselves will become unclear. When this happens, there is a lack of clarity and direction. It could be that we have some spare time coming up (with lockdown this has become more common). So, if for example, we have a weekend coming up and no plans. Therefore, it’d be good to think of doing something purposeful. If we just have that time as ‘dead time’, we may look forward to it but, if we don’t have an intention about what to do, then we could find ourselves in this fuzzy-zone!
Therefore, it’s important to think about our purpose i.e. what’s important to us. It’s crucial to align this to our values, taking time to look at what these are. Then you can go through an exercise of thinking:
- what we want to pay attention to; therefore choosing what it’s useful for us to think about.
- what actions we should take
- what our attitude towards those actions is; making sure we are as positive as possible towards those actions and to being results-driven with regards to our intentions.
When we get better at noticing our thoughts, feelings and behaviours, we can get clearer in what we give our attention to and so therefore we can influence the three elements above (attention, action and attitude). I personally think ‘attention’ is the most important element of intention. Focusing attention on the smallest steps of our goals brings about the action needed to complete them.