Living with Intention

cretsinger34I set an intention in 2006.  I declared it my “Year of Technology.”  I researched and purchased a lap top computer, converted my music cd’s to an iPod and upgraded from a paper schedule to a Palm Pilot.  My intention was to understand and use technology to make my life simpler and more enjoyable.  Due to my clear vision and diligence, I achieved that goal.  It was intentional.

I like the following definition of intention: “to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim.” Intentional behavior can also be just thoughtful and deliberate goal-directedness.  Lacking intention, we sometimes stray without meaning or direction.   If we say something was intentional, we meant for it to happen.  If it was unintentional, we didn’t necessarily play a conscious role in its creation.

I believe there are three steps in living with intention.  They are having awareness, planning and being open to the outcome.

Having awareness is simply recognizing that you can go along allowing life to just happen to you OR you can live with intention.  For example, you can be intentional about your first thought of the day.  Think about it.  What was yours today?  “That annoying alarm!  How did the volume get so high?”  or “Ugh! I want to sleep longer.  I don’t want to go to work!”  or “I need to get in the shower NOW if I want to have time for breakfast.” or “What do I need to do today?”  or “Is that rain I hear?”

I made a choice several years ago to start my day intentionally happy.  I have trained myself that as soon as I hear the alarm or wake up on my own, I think “Today is going to be a great day!”  I even smile to summons the emotion that I MEAN IT.

Interestingly, I pretty much always have a great day.  When people ask me my secret, I tell them it is a choice.  An intentional choice.

You can be intentional about how you spend your time, how you communicate with a loved one, the words you choose to use or not use, how you honor your body (food, exercise, sleep), how you express love (ex. the Five Love Languages), how you prepare for your day, how you pursue hobbies, how you keep in touch with family far away, how you preserve memories and how you raise your children.

Likely, there are many ways you currently live intentionally.  You may choose to home school your children, eat organic food, practice your faith and get to bed by 10:00pm every night.  If you think about how in your life you live intentionally, that is probably where you are most happy and content.

Our children Max and Mackenzie are very sweet.  They aren’t mean bullys or demanding or “smart” with their words.  They are actually quite sensitive children.  But almost three years ago I realized, when we were spending a holiday with relatives, that our children weren’t particularly well-mannered.  For example, when wanting a drink of water, my son would say nicely, “Mom, I would like some water.” or “Can you get me some water?”

It wasn’t until I heard my exceptionally polite niece say, “Please may I have some water?” that I realized we had never fully taught our  then 3 and 6 year old children good manners.  My husband and I decided to set an intention to teach our children to be very polite.

The second step to living with intention is to have a plan. For example, in our effort to train our children to have excellent manners, we decided that we would first explain it to them. We told them that from then on we expected them to ask for what they wanted in a certain way.  Going forward, when they asked for water, for example, we said, “I want you to say Please, may I have some water?”  They caught on pretty quick.  After a week or so, if they slipped and said, “Mom!  I’m thirsty!  ”  I would respond, “Oh, that’s interesting.” and go about what I was doing as if they just had a comment for me.  After a moment, they would realize what happened and rephrase their request politely.  Now, we have quite well mannered children who say their Pleases and Thank Yous.

Having a plan for intention takes some thought.  You must STOP and THINK (awareness) then take the time to formulate your plan.  Exercising the plan may require diligence.  This is most easily done when you have attached positive value or loving thought to the intention.  For example, I really was excited to adopt more technology in my life.  I felt like a loving parent when I was taking the time to instill manners with my children.

Sometimes, instead of a plan, you just need to continually be aware of your intention.  For example, if you intend to stop judging people, that takes a LOT of awareness but not necessarily any planning.  The plan, I suppose, is to have continued awareness.  As you can imagine, this isn’t necessarily easy.  Just as not judging people wouldn’t necessarily be easy.  But that’s the point.  Living with intention is not about living an easy life, it’s about living a remarkable life.  Wildly successful people are intentional with how they think and live.

The third step is being open to the outcome.  If you are attached to the outcome, you allow negativity or fear as an emotion.  There are only two basic emotions from where all other emotions stem: love and fear.  Intention, at its best, is based in love or gratitude.  If you intend for something to be or to happen, you feel a positive emotion.  For example, if I intend to communicate better with my spouse, I have a positive emotion.  If his response is not reciprocated, I can choose to continue acting from intention and stay positive or I can attach to the outcome and be negative, thus losing the intention.  Being open to the outcome allows you to stay in intention.

Where do you feel anxiety, fear or are disconnected in your life?  In other words, where in your life to you want to feel joy, peace and connectedness?  This is where to put an intention.

Start by placing the intention on what you can fully control, such as how you feel about something or someone, or how you choose to act or respond in a situation.

Living with intention will create more fulfillment, joy, integrity and value in your life.  First become aware that you can set an intention, then have a plan and ultimately be open to any outcome.  This formula for living with intention will help make your life extraordinary.

I have continued to set intentions with technology.  This blog you’re reading is my latest intention.  I became aware of the value of blogging this past year.  I set a plan to start a blog in the Spring and write at least once every two weeks.  I have no attachment to the outcome; I just wish to inspire, entertain and motivate you toward building a better life.  Next steps, for me, are to look into an iphone and explore how to upload workshops to our website.  Ultimately, I intend to mobilize thousands of people to take actions that bring them closer to their potential.

What is your intention?

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