I teach college preparatory English. Each class, I ask my students, “what do you want out of this class?” and “why are you here?” I’m trying to get them to set an intention. This guides and drives their progress. I ask them to think about how learning English will serve them in their daily lives and their future.
The intention is the “why” behind the goal of learning English and could be “to express myself,” or “start a business,” or “understand my family and world better.” The clearer and more passionate their intention is, the more they learn.
Intentions Versus Goals
If I look over my life at my own past and present intentions, I can see I neeeded true intentions to accomplish certain goals:
The Goal: Write my book; Intention: unscramble my life and then help others with what I learn;
The Goal: Learn a different language; Intention: find out who I am away from my family, native culture, childhood labels;
The Goal: To act on stage; Intention: to ignite creativity in others through storytelling.
Obstacles to Living Our Highest Intentions
“I need to make a living.”
Sometimes we have to take a job that doesn’t match our intention to pull us through financially. I’ve had to do this many times. When I took a job teaching 6th grade because for financial reasons with no great intention behind the job except to make money, I didn’t thrive. I got sick several days that year, I wasn’t effective.
But I kept an intention even during those jobs “to express my own voice and to help others express theirs.” I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, but it wasn’t too long after that that 6th grade teaching job that I started teaching English at a college. In time, this job morphed into using dramatic techniques in the classroom to transcend anxiety. Eventually, I wanted to write about my experiences in the classroom to help others take creative risks and learn.
I came closer and closer to realizing a true intention in my work.
If we keep that ideal intention in focus either through meditation, writing, or by practicing a hobby, an opportunity will present itself…eventually.
What Do True Intentions Look Like?
A good intention often contains these elements:
a deep alignment or sense “this feels right”;
a connection to why we are in the world;
a link to our talents (though sometimes those talents could be latent and we have to dig!)
often a true intention has some connection to our greatest challenges in life.
Sometimes the intention sneaks in the back door and we vocalize it later. I didn’t call myself a writer until I finished the first draft of my book. The desire to write a book was there but the intention was not clear. I started to show up on the page, I followed through. I set mini-goals. The intention revealed itself the more I wrote. And more opportunities presented themselves.
When we may not be able to articulate our intention, intention is morphing, growing, evolving. My intention now to express myself in an authentic artistic writing so my life lessons help, entertain and inform others.
Sometimes we have good intentions but we have other competing thoughts, “I need a boyfriend,” or “If I don’t have another drink, I’’ll go crazy” or “I can’t write this book.”
Maintain a high intention for yourself (i.e. you want to share your art with the world, uplift others with your song). Doors WILL open in time. You may be led to the right way to lose that addiction, a solution to the money worries, the right life lesson which leads to the right companion.
When we have a true intention things fall into place, we get help, the money comes. The game is rigged in favor of true intentions! (this applies to positive intentions, not intentions to destroy the world.)
Mind and Heart Intentions
My mind is linear or mundane. It is always asking, how can I make a living, survive, how can I plan this future? But my heart doesn’t work like this. My heart is nonlinear and asks how can I uplift others, share joy. The mind is there to make decisions in the moment and execute. Intention needs to connect to both mind and heart.
Today, experiment with intention. How does your day shift when you set different intentions?
My intention today is to serve all life while having fun.
My intention this week is to reach more readers with my work and uplift others with my work.
Do you want to figure out your intention?
What are those two or three things you want to try and talk yourself out of?
How do you like to interact with others? Writing, speaking, helping?
What puts a smile on your face?
Set an intention that feels right for the day or for the week. See what comes your way. Chart your progress. Let me know below!