Intention is one of the most complex, challenging, and ultimately private processes that human beings engage in. Only the person holding the intention really knows what the intention is. Intention plays a critical role in almost all parts of our lives: our personal development, our communication, and relationships with others, as well as what happens in larger societal systems like criminal justice, education, medicine, etc.
Numerous and diverse quotes about intentions flow freely: “Our intention creates reality” -Wayne Dwyer; “There is always a gap between intention and action” -Paulo Coelho; and “Intention without action is useless” -Caroline Myss.
Historically, the word intention is described in Old French as “stretching, intensity, will, thought” and in Latin as “a stretching out, straining, exertion, effort: attention.” The modern definition from Merriam-Webster is “a determination to act a certain way.”
An obvious link to this concept is the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions wherein thoughts turn into committed action, at least in theory. Although Forbes reports that of the 40% of Americans who make resolutions, only 8% achieve them. Now we may all just stink at intention setting but I think the link here is the gap between thought and action. It goes back to those definitions which acknowledge that intentions require attention and effort.
I believe intention kick-starts the change process. Without it, nothing really happens. Desire and commitment provide the energy for the pivot required during the long-haul process of change — for individuals, groups, or systems.