The power of setting intentions is something that most of us have heard about, if only in passing. It is written and talked about in a surprising variety of places, and if you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve likely been asked by your instructor to “set an intention for your practice.” In our goal-oriented culture, though, the idea of intention is often misunderstood.
SLPs, OTs, and school psychologists are generally quite well-versed in the act of goal setting. Boy oh boy, do we love a good goal! There is an essential distinction between goals and intentions, however. I always teach my students that a goal is something you want to achieve. It is something to look at in the distance and say, “I’m going there.” It is something you actively work towards, something that requires discipline and a sharp focus to attain.
An intention, on the other hand, is not somewhere you’re going but rather somewhere you want to stay. If goal-setting is about the future, intention-setting is about the now. Deepak Chopra postulates that “An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create,” which, quite frankly, is a sentence that I have some difficulty decoding (no shade to Deepak, of course). I tend to think of an intention as a vision, something that steers my decision making, a way to be more fully present in my thoughts and actions.
An intention is something that stays with you always, regardless of whether or not you’re achieving your goals — if your intention is to care for your physical health and your goal is to exercise 5xweek, you can remain fully dedicated to that intention even if you blow off going to the gym one day. Setting an intention is making a commitment to yourself. As former CEO and current Buddhist teacher, Phillip Moffitt shares, “You don’t just set your intentions and then forget about them; you live them every day.”
And there it is. Our theme for the year. Every day.
As far as annual themes go, it’s deceptively simple. But anyone who has set an intention knows it can take some serious work to untangle what is at your squishy core and to then focus on what you want to guide you. Thankfully, we here at THF are Challenge Slayers. We are courageous and undaunted by the work that lay ahead.
We will be spending this year asking ourselves who we are and what we stand for, day in and day out, and what we’re willing to do every day to embody those intentions. We’ll ask ourselves what it means to be a THFer every day, knowing that sometimes the answers will surprise us (rest well every day?) and might even make us laugh (chocolate every day!).
We invite you to join us in setting an intention for the year ahead. And then ask yourself, “What does it mean to live this, every day?”
We can’t wait to hear what you come up with.