Acting with Intention


Name

Acting with Intention

Purpose/Effects

Setting an intention before beginning a task or activity can help guide your actions so that they are in line with your values. Doing this can support personal growth and positively influence your actions, work, and relationships.

Method

Summary:
Before your start an activity, set an intention for what you would like to embody and cultivate. Carry your intention with you throughout the day and change it as necessary.

Long Version

  • Before beginning a task or activity, ask yourself what you wish to embody or cultivate during your work.
    • You can set an intention for any activity, such as meditating, going to a meeting, having dinner with your family, or having a conversation with a coworker.
    • Intentions can include practicing more self-compassion, deep listening, gratitude, and cultivating supportive relationships.
  • When setting your intention, try to clarify what is most needed in that moment.
  • Try to mindfully carry this intention with you as you proceed, checking in periodically to re-align yourself if you forget.
  • At the end of the day reflect on whether you remembered your intention(s) and how often you followed them.
    • Look for specific instances and congratulate yourself for any times, however few or brief, that you embodied your intention and then congratulate yourself!

Optional:

  • In addition to specific intentions for a certain activity, you can also set a more general intention for your day when you wake up each morning.

History

Setting an intention for your day or before an activity is a common practice in various cultures. In the Buddhist tradition, Right Intention is the second teaching in the Noble Eightfold Path. It includes committing oneself to personal growth and ethical behavior, resisting unhealthy desire, and not causing harm to oneself or others.

Cautions

Be careful not to confuse intentions with goals. Goals occur in the future, while intentions can be embodied in each moment.

Also, remember that acting according to your intentions takes time and practice. Please be kind to yourself if you do not remember your intentions. It is common for people to forget their intention shortly after forming it, and even remembering it once throughout the day is worthy of celebration.

See Also

Identifying Personal Values
Realizing Intention
Self Affirmations to Reduce Self-Control Failure

External Links

Article by meditation teacher Phillip Moffit about intention

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