Every year, I choose a theme or phrase to guide my focus. It’s different every year, chosen carefully based on what I learned the previous year, what I hope for the coming year, and (crazy as it may sound) often something the universe has directed my attention towards.
This year, my theme is living with Intention.
Over the past year, I’ve started to learn more about what it means to live with intention. I’ve studied it, dipped my big toe in, and now it’s time to jump in (with a running start). It’s time to deliberately pursue a life lived with intention.
Intention is defined as “a thing intended; an aim or plan”. It is a “purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct”.
To live with intent, you are deliberate and acting with meaning. In medicine, it also means the healing process of a wound. [Note: we all have unseen wounds.]
It comes from the latin word “intentio”, which means “stretching, purpose”. By living with intention, you are consciously making a choice, an intent, to be purposeful with your thoughts and actions.
You might’ve heard the phrase: “hell is paved with good intentions.” It’s not just the purpose behind our action, but includes the action itself.
There are only two intentions: love and fear.
Everything we say or do comes from love or fear. Our inner intention (from the heart) precedes every action. When we say or do something from a place of love, the result is very different than if it came from a place of fear, greed, or selfish motivation.
Intent is becoming aware of our inner motivation. Did we say or act that way out of habit and fear? We must ask ourselves “Why did I say that?” or “Why did I do that?” to better understand if the thought or action came from fear or love, a deliberate thoughtfulness and care.
There’ve been a few times when I’ve caught myself. After finishing a story, I’d ask myself: “Why were you compelled to tell that story? What was the purpose of telling it?” More than I’d like to admit, it wasn’t coming from a place of love. I told it because I thought it said something about me — confirming that I was generous, or an adventurous spirit, or an intelligent person (and so humble too!). That was my ego talking, disguising my fear.
You can learn a lot about yourself and about others when you question the intent. Take a look at anyone’s Instagram account. Why do we post pictures of places we’ve been? Clothing, shoes, or other things we’ve acquired? Fear can take a variety of forms, including the desire to be liked, admired, or feel secure.
In March of last year, I wrote a post about taking a break from Instagram. It’s so easy to follow the crowd and get caught up in what everyone else is doing. We may act out of habit, not intention.
I’m not saying that posting on Instagram is a bad habit, but encouraging you to question your intention before you post.
An entire life, led with intention, will take some practice.
Living with intention means we must re-evaluate:
- How we spend out time
- How we spend our money
- How we interact with people
- How we communicate with our family, friends, coworkers and strangers
- What story we tell (or don’t tell) at a party
- How we care for ourselves and others
- The list goes on and on…
Every month, I will set a new intention and share my journey. I encourage you to follow along or even better, join me!