Exploring Intention : What is Intention, anyway?

Welcome to Tuesday’s with Chel.

Each week Chel Micheline of Gingerblue will offer her perspectives on our Bliss Habits. Please enjoy the wisdom and clarity she offers.

“Setting an intention ‘primes’ our nervous system to be on the lookout for whatever will support what we intend to create for ourselves… When we pay attention to the intention to bring more happiness into our lives, we are more likely to notice the actions, opportunities, people, and things that can bring that about for us.”
– James Baraz, Awakening Joy


Welcome to Exploring Intention!

My goal in the next thirteen weeks is to not only take a closer look at “intention”, but explore simple and effective ways to incorporate it into daily life.

I’ll admit that I’ve always struggled a bit with the whole concept of intention, and I was surprised to find so many neuroscientists and researchers emphasize how important it is to a general sense of well-being. I realized I needed to figure out a way to incorporate it into my own life.

So a few months ago, I decided do more research and investigation into how intention works and practical ways to utilize it. Now, armed with tons of information and notes and ideas and exercises, I’m going to try and put all of my findings into action and start making “Intention” a part of my regular life. “Exploring Intention” stems from that. Maybe you’d like to join me?

What is Intention, anyway?

First, let’s talk about what intention *isn’t*. Intention is not magic. It is not a magic spell or a magic wand that will manifest our wildest dreams and deepest desires. Unfortunately, simply having an intention for something won’t make it materialize in our life.

But don’t get me wrong- intention can be powerful. Simply by allowing the possibility for something to exist, or a change to be made in life, causes something to shift very deep inside us.

So what *is* intention, then? The best way I can describe intention by comparing it to the GPS system you might use in your car.

Much like a GPS, if you tell your “internal sense of intention” where you’d like to go, it will (usually) tell you the reliable steps you need to get to that place- it’s honestly that simple.

But don’t forget this: what your GPS will NOT do is get you in the car, click the seat belt, start the engine, put the car into drive, and push your foot down on the petal to make the car go. It will not force you to make a right turn or a left turn at the end of your street. It can’t do anything but plot out a course for you, one step at a time.

Intention works the same way. You can set an intention for something (for example, “be more joyful”, “become healthier”, “be more successful”, etc.) but just becoming *clear* on the goal doesn’t make it magically manifest.

The key is to continually engage in this process. Move forward, one step at a time. Setting an intention for something and then not taking any action is basically an exercise in futility.

 “You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you’ll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless.”
– Caroline Myss

However, the more we connect with our internal sense of intention, and the more we take the time to listen to what it has to say, the closer we will move towards our goals.

And, don’t worry- if you make a wrong turn in life, just like a GPS, your intention will “recalibrate” and lead you back on the right track.

There is a rule, though, to intention: HONESTY. Be honest about yourself as far as where you are starting from, and where you’d like to end up. Always be truthful about where you are in your journey. If you start out from a dishonest place, you won’t be able to navigate successfully through the journey- you’ll constantly need to “correct” your course.

So it’s better to be completely genuine about the place you are starting from. It doesn’t need to be exact, it just needs to be fairly accurate. For example, you can simply say “I’m not happy right now, I need more joy in my life” or “I’m feeling really agitated and unsettled about the work I’m doing, I need to get clear on my goals and make some changes.” For me personally, I am struggling with some issues with my creativity and also feeling like I’m not “enough”. I’d love to bring some more joy in my life, as well.

As you move forward, you’ll become more clear about where you stand and the steps you need to take in order to end up at your destination.

And remember, the bigger a journey is (whether in life or on the road), the longer it takes. Sometimes things get messy, confusing, congested. Sometimes the directions don’t seem like they make sense. But ultimately, by showing up every day, by continuing to make small progress, you will reach your goal.

So I invite you to join me on this journey, and to power up your internal sense of intention, and give it somewhere to guide you. Like I said before, it’s not magic. But it is simple, and it can be very powerful.


A lot of experts emphasize that an intention for the day should be set soon after waking up in the morning. For me, that’s tough. My first few thoughts upon waking are usually of the “Blurghhh. Can’t. Get. Up….” variety, followed by a general grumpiness about the day. My only “intention” in the early morning is to stay awake long enough to get out of bed.

So I have found the best time to think about intention is when I’ve had a chance to wake up and grab my cup of tea, when I’m not feeling so funky. See what works for you- maybe it would be beneficial for you to set an intention upon waking. Maybe you’re like me, and need a little bit of time to get the fog cleared. Or maybe you’d prefer to do it right before you go to bed, setting the stage for a focused tomorrow. Whatever works for you is exactly the right way to go about it.

A simple exercise to get started: take some time today to sit quietly for just a few minutes and try to tap into your “inner sense of intention”.  You don’t have to spend a significant amount of time on this. Just start by creating a simple goal to make intention a part of your daily life. That’s it.

If you like, you can do a doodle or write a journal page about it, or even visualize what a daily intention practice might look like for you. But the most important thing is that you sort of open up a “dialogue” with your inner sense of intention.

If you have time, I would also recommend thinking about where you are, where you are starting from in relation to some of the goals that may be floating around in your head and heart and soul.

Like I said, this doesn’t need to be really detailed or exact, it just needs to be honest. If you’re having a struggle with life or with something specific, and you need some relief from that, this is the time and place to get real about it.

Start exactly where you are. The beauty of intention is that no matter where you are, what you are going through, you can start moving forward and making changes.

8 thoughts on “Exploring Intention : What is Intention, anyway?

  1. I love this!! The comparison to the GPS is a great one…navigation but not removing responsibility for action. I’ve been really into the idea of intention recently – moving from my core, allowing mystery to flow through me, aligning with “intention” as I understand it. What an excellent series!

  2. Very interested to see how you do this! I can understand intention it is the whole “thinking on something and it will be” that doesn’t jive. Intention to me is setting out to do something and following through. Not waiting for something to happen!

  3. Terry says:

    This is good, use the intention like a GPS or just to get a general direction that your subconscious directs you in. Then follow up like an adventure just to see where it leads you. Doodkling or automatic writing are good doors to open . Stay with it for a few days and see where it leads! I came over from Just Jingle – glad I found you!

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