Let’s Talk About the Power of Intention.
Firstly, let’s deal with the definition. When we say ‘intention’ – let alone the power of intention – what do we actually mean?
In spoken language, we use it in a lot of different contexts. Someone who has been thinking over their to-do list might say ‘today, I’m intending to do x and y’. A kid in trouble might say ‘I didn’t intend to break your window’. A policeman, meanwhile, might say to a criminal ‘are you carrying that with intent to cause harm?’. All these examples give off a sense of a plan or a desire.
However, that’s not quite the full story. If you look at the etymology – the linguistic history – of the word, you see that, in Latin, it nicely means ‘to stretch out’ and ‘to turn your attention to something’. In very early English, it also meant ‘heart, mind, or understanding’ – alongside ‘purpose or aspiration’.
It’s quite a complex word, and one that is much deeper than the way we use it now, in the sense of an immediate aim. Intention is really about what, at our deepest level, we are ‘stretching out’ towards – about what our hearts and minds are aspiring or paying attention to.
Intention is not about the short-term microtasks – the things on your to-do list which arrange your day. It’s rather about the big things that should direct our lives – whether that’s supporting a loving family, becoming an authority in a particular field, or just making loads of money.
However, unfortunately, many of us do not know what our true intentions are.
We don’t know, ultimately, what we are aiming for, we don’t have a clear sense of our aspirations, our motivations, and our goals – that image of where we want to end up.
Rather, we crack on with the little things that present themselves to us day-to-day. The immediate things to be sorted. The little, futile, maybe meaningless tasks that we discussed in our article on motivation. But these tasks only get less meaningful when they are detached from a larger intention.
This is a major problem. One that I encounter a lot with people who use my Gen-ius Journal, there is often a lack of clarity on where their daily activities are taking them. Sound familiar?
There’s no focus on a long term goal – and so tasks set and completed are usually done a little blindly. In more of a step by step process than stages of a journey.
I’ve been there! It’s hard to know whether or not you are doing the right thing, and so become inefficient in HOW you spend your time. Gaining clarity on your larger intention changes this. Because there is a power of intention that most of us aren’t using.
What is the Science of Goals and Intentions?
Bringing your core goals into clarity helps with two things: it channels your long-term motivation and, by doing that, it brings you immediate focus.
Clarity on your core intention – your WHY – brings motivation. People who know more clearly what they want to achieve are more likely to strive to get there. According to one study of Harvard students, people who set goals were getting twice as good grades.
But, that motivation to achieve something – your personal source of happiness – will in turn bring clarity to the tasks at hand. Do you honestly need to be doing x to get to your core WHY? Does x deserve the time that you are labouring over it? Are you prioritising the right tasks?
We’ve talked about the role of focus in productivity before. But productivity is not just about completing any old tasks quickly and efficiently.
It’s about doing the right things that lead you to your intention…
…what is your true definition of ‘Time Well Spent’?
Want guidance on HOW to define your Intention? I have a great exercise for you
Check out my podcast on HOW to find your True Intention:
Also check out this other article: