What Does it Mean to Live with Intention?


I often say, “I have the best intentions and the worst follow through.”

Why is that?

Do I set myself up for failure?

Do I have unrealistic expectations?

Actually, I think the answer is I didn’t know what an intention was.

I was confusing intentions with goals and plans.

Look up the word intention and you will find “a determination to act in a certain way.”

It’s very easy to get sidelined with semantics, but the differences here are pretty important.

A goal is your endpoint. Plans are how you get to the endpoint. You may have heard the saying a goal without a plan is just a wish.

An example of this is stating my goal is to run a marathon next year. That is my endpoint. But without planning, it is unattainable and is just a wish. If I were to say, my goal is to run a marathon next year, and in order to do that I will start training and build up to it with on a schedule over time, I’ve provided the plan and my goal stands. Where goals are all about the future, intentions are about right now.

Goal setting without intention is a recipe for failure. This happens often with diet and exercise. When you start a workout plan or a new diet, setting goals is important and you need to have a plan to work towards your goals. But seldom do we go deep and ask ourselves the why behind the goal. Why do you want to change your diet or exercise?

An intention is where your goal begins; it is the why behind the goal.

Intentions are far more personal aspects of your thoughts, beliefs, and desires rolled up into one statement. If my goal is to run a marathon, what inner desires and beliefs make me want to run a marathon?

So how do you set an intention?

You can set intentions for a short period of time, for instance, you may set an intention before your yoga class for what you want to get out of it and how you want to feel. Or you could go one day, week, or month at a time. I set an intention every year on the winter solstice. I manifest a guiding principle for the upcoming year. And that is just what an intention is, a guiding principle for how you want to live your life.

Take your time in formulating your intention. Forget all about your goals and really focus on how you want to feel every day and what you want your life to look like. If you have trouble with this, try meditation or journaling to help spark your thoughts and ideas. I use oracle cards to guide me in this process. Everyone is different and you can use whatever tool gets your creative mind flowing.

Once you have your intention, write it down. Say it out loud. Sit with it, talk to it. Take it on a date 😉 Get to know it and understand what it means to you. If it evolves during this process, allow it to flow. And this is the most important part, think about it often, daily at least, until it is in your thoughts daily and it feels natural. Your intention is a part of you and can guide you towards living your best life.

Intention Setting Worksheet