The Problem With Intentions

setting intentionsIt’s an exciting new year, and many of us deliberate creators have faithfully set inspiring intentions for 2012.

Some of the goals I’ve heard from fellow creators are to pay off debt, find true love, recover full health, lose the baby fat, grow the business, get promoted, travel internationally, get healthy, grow the circle of friends, move to a new city, finish the creative project (books, portfolio, videos), etc.

We’ve got great plans for the new year, huh?!

The problem with setting intentions like this is that by doing so we may inadvertently sabotage that very success.

It may be that a more empowering creative practice would be simply to celebrate what we’ve already created.  And not focus at all on what we want next.

Here’s why:

Sometimes setting intentions amplifies our awareness of what we don’t have.  And that vibration doesn’t allow it to manifest.

The truth is that we don’t have to write it down again, or put it on a vision board, or visualize it in our meditations.  Because if putting more focus on what we want emphasizes our knowledge that it isn’t here yet, that just creates a bigger vibrational gap to the goal.

All we have to do to get what we want is match the vibration of it.  Which just means feel better.  Sometimes that is best done by appreciating what’s already here rather than intending the next good thing.

Loving where you are (or even just accepting where you are) may very well be your best ticket to an even more fabulous 2012.

Which sounds strange to say, because sometimes I feel like a “delinquent creator” when I’m not regularly engaging intentional exercises like pray rain journaling, scripting, or visualizing.

Others have said to me they don’t see how life will change if they accept what it is now.  As if resistance fuels change!

But if your intention is born out of not loving life now, focusing on that intention may just enhance the contrast, not the alignment.

Someone asked Abraham recently whether we should even be attempting to manifesting things because it’s so easy to get attention locked on what’s not here when we do that.  Abe’s suggestion was to let the feeling be the goal instead (i.e. the interest, fun, love, appreciation, passion).

Because if you feel any negativity, setting a goal (or intention) only compounds the resistance.

Well, we would never do that, right?

We only feel excitement and enthusiasm for what we want!

But it’s easy to fool ourselves.

As Abe said to another workshop participant, when you want to “take it to the next level,” it’s a sign you’re not loving the level you’re at.

They said the best way to foster your expanding goodness is to:

  • accept that where you are is perfect
  • appreciate where you stand
  • release resistance about what is
  • while acknowledging generally that there is another level and that it’s coming

… and in that you allow the next level to reveal itself to you.  You won’t break a sweat, and you’ll be filled with inspired actions and ideas, finding yourself in the right place at the right time with synchronicities swirling all around.

I like the way Jonathan Fields described it in his 2011 annual report:

I find myself holding a seemingly bizarre duality in my mind and my heart; at once abandoning hope of a cure (this frees me to build the practices and take the actions that help me live a good life), while also remaining open to the possibility that someday, something may come along. It’s a very Buddhist way of being, balancing presence, practice and acceptance with a sense of non-attached aspiration toward a different state. It’s a dance I’m still very much a student of, teetering along the fine line between acceptance and complacency, aspiration and desire.

That’s how I like to think of it, too.  As a dance where we find the sweet spot of loving what is while allowing (looking forward to) what’s next.

Look, I did set some lovely intentions for 2012.  And I know that one of the most powerful ways I can support those manifestations is by loving what’s here now.

Have to admit, that’s pretty good homework for the year.  🙂

  • January 14, 2012
  • Some of the best intentions that have happened are ones that I haven’t even thought about until after the fact. It’s amazing how a passing thought can manifest physically from pretty much nowhere.
    I am doing processes – playing games – that feel good to me to do, not because I feel like I should. Such as making a vision board with my husband regarding a house we want. That feels like something fun to do together.
    And I know what you mean about feeling thankful for what we have now. I woke Saturday with a peacefulness and a thankfulness for everything we have now and all the wonderful possibilities to come. It ended up being a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend.

  • Wow, Evan, I knew your elaboration would be inspiring! Thanks for revisiting to share that.
    Yay for trusting ourselves to know what serves us best, and for engaging it once we know!
    PS – “honey to the Pooh” – LOVE IT! 🙂

  • Evan Griffith says:

    Thanks for the link to Zen Habits, Jeannette! I’ll check it out shortly.
    The elaboration: I do two things, and formed one 2012 intention for each of them.
    One of these two things I do is run an art gallery my wife and I own in Palm Beach County, FL. We’re on the cusp of the king of all comebacks — so I wanted to be clear about my direction, yet not weighted down about where I was in any moment in relation to the ultimate goal.
    I set the ideal outcome in my mind — and on paper. Then I cast about for some process I could do easily and happily every day at work that would move me toward that goal, without having to think about the goal itself.
    I have a visualization ish, where I set a far-distant goal . . . and then get that constipated look on my face when I try to visualize what it’s like way over there . . . across what feels like an ocean . . . and I’m in a row boat . . .
    No more of that! The daily process that leapt to mind was this: Every morning at the gallery, simply ask what is one simple action I can take — in between all else I’m doing — that will maximize the gallery’s earnings.
    I love asking questions — making it fun before I even begin. Then I write the answer down in my planner, and take that action. Because it must be a simple action, it’s never painful, I don’t have to rush it, it never feels forced. In fact, it’s turned out to be the one thing I relish most now!
    That’s one example of a simple process moving me in the direction of a 2012 intention, without obsessing on the goal itself.
    And I really have you to thank, Jeannette. I found you several months ago and have been mostly one of those quiet enjoyers of all that you say and do. Your example of doing what feels good over what feels intensely necessary has been honey to this Pooh.

  • Susann says:

    Holy cow, Jeannette, you really are a cosmic wonder! You’ve deftly explained something I’ve been working on for a while now, and in such a way (along with everyone’s fantabulous comments thus far, of course!)that it just makes so much delicious sense.
    I Pray Rain Journal almost daily because — usually – it just plain makes me feel good! Some days the writing is just sheer joy and I feel wonderful and, when finished, am nearly bouncing off the walls — & good stuff happens! Other times, it feels a bit forced, rushed, maybe a little blah. Sometimes the feeling is just tiny, fleeting, a sense that I’m operating just on the edge of but not quite in that luscious vortexy place I love. I’ve started becoming acutely aware of those microscopic shifts in my own energy, & have stopped even TRYING to journal (or even think intending thoughts)when the vibe’s not there. S’true — if you ain’t feelin’ it, the Universe ain’t dealin’ it.
    At these times, I get back into “feel good” as quickly as I can, thinking or writing about something where my vibe IS hot, or just getting up & doing something that makes me feel good. Even something as simple as lying on the floor rubbing a cat’s belly works (any cat’ll do!).
    Great stuff, everyone. This blog is truly the most amazing place; Jeannette, you’ve created something so SPECIAL! You just blow my mind — in the most wonderful ways — with every post!

  • ChipEFT says:

    The trick is to remember that once you set your intention, it is done. It is when you look around, notice you don’t have what you intended and reset your attention that you have a problem.
    As Frank mentioned, all you have to do is follow the thought that feels better. I don’t mean just about that topic, but as a habit every day, every right-here right now. If you are following what feels better about all topics, you are releasing resistance and ALLOWING what you want to come to you.
    In fact, the more you take your attention off your intention, the faster it comes. So enjoy yourself and let the Universe do it’s thing. And the best way to do that is to find and follow the thought (and action) that feels and have a good time of it.

  • Evan Griffith says:

    Jeannette, Jeannette, Jeannette!
    You continue to surprise me with the most-bestest combination of qualities I’ve found in a spiritually-oriented blog! You go deep while simultaneously being light of heart.
    How perfect this post is, especially for this time of year when so many of us feel compelled to craft heroic visions. My own little twist was to take my two over-arching intentions . . . and essentially set them aside by creating a pleasurable action habit for each one I could perform (delightfully and deliciously) on a daily basis. It’s already been such a joy!
    Thank you, you light-hearted plumber of the profound — And thank you to all of you commenters, I get so much from what you share —

  • Ooh, Evan, I’d love to hear you elaborate on that! That sounds very aligned – delightful, delicious, pleasurable actions for each intention.
    Kind of reminds me what this guy said the other day:
    (except your approach, Evan, feels to me higher-vibing due to less resistance.)
    Thanks for posting, my friend.

  • Shannon says:

    After a few years focused on manifesting the love I wanted (I already had the career, etc.) I finally have it (and find myself having everything I really want). I have been concerned because since…I haven’t been consciously manifesting anything. I couldn’t think of anything else I REALLY wanted that warranted the kind of effort I put into manifesting my love. But I was a bit afraid I’d get stuck if I wasn’t really “working” on something. This is so refreshing to hear! I certainly get up everyday and give thanks for my life. I guess it really is ok to relax! 🙂

  • Girlfriend, I am SO joining you in “wallowing in gratitude.” LOVE it!
    And I admire your awareness and sensitivity to the energy and how it feels. Very powerful guidance you’re tapped into.

  • This is soooooo timely for me.
    I’ve been focus-diving on how inside feelings, deep twinges that usually don’t get much attention.
    And whenever I did my goal affirmations, my visioning, my mantras and visualizations … when I expected to feel uplifted, inspired and motivated … the twinges told me I wasn’t there yet.
    My stomach registered disappointment in the stark contrast, my mind niggled at the non-achievement of the very goals I was affirming gratitude for.
    In other words, EXACTLY what you’ve described.
    I think a change is in order.
    I’m going to wallow in gratitude, and fun, and enjoyment,
    and dump the rest.
    I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • Ashley, that gives me goosebumps! I can’t imagine a more powerful mantra for embracing the concepts this post discusses.
    Thanks for sharing!! (And kudos to your hubby – and you for manifesting him.)

  • Ashley says:

    Thank you Jeannette! I love it! My wish for 2012 is “More of this, please!” I feel I don’t need to deliberately create anything because the gifts that keep coming my way continue to surprise and delight and who doesn’t like a nice surprise that brings joy?
    The nicest thing that has come my way this year (so far!) is that my husband just said today how all of the things that have happened to him/us aren’t coincidence and that he recognizes that it is all the creation of the universe. He keeps finding more examples in his own life that prove it to him. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a partner that shares my same spirituality. I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat as I write this.
    In joy,

  • Stephanie Rainbow Bell says:

    I love it! Your article is nifty validation for me, because it is pretty much identical to what I wrote to my subscribers in my New Year Newsletter! I invited them to make the singular intention to feel the very best they could in any/every given moment! So much easier!
    Thanks for pointing out the bits about energetically attracting resistance sometimes when we focus on what we don’t have yet inadvertently, while thinking we are focused on what we want.
    The path to inner peace is clear and firm when we accept each moment as perfect, as it arrives, then bless the indicator as it goes.
    Namaste 🙂

  • Stacey - Soul Intelligence says:

    Feeling truly is the secret, as Neville Goddard would say.

  • Stephanie, could we get a signup link to your newsletter? Sounds like it’s right up my alley!

  • You know, Barbara and Stacey, I’ve heard Abe say this for a while, but it’s only now starting to really come to life for me.
    I think I get it!
    Thanks for reading and for posting. 🙂

  • Janette says:

    Lovely! I was just beginning to think I “should” (hm, there’s a clue!) re-read my intentions for 2012….
    Now I’m going to spend some time simply appreciating. SO much easier, too!!

  • Barbara says:

    Yep! Reach for the manifestation of the feeeeeeling! And appreciate where you are right NOW. That’s exactly it! Hugs, Barbara

  • In a jiffy by a handsome smiling man – Frank, I like your style!
    Thanks for checking in with Paul on this topic. I LOVE this: “when you are intending far in advance, what you are doing is, most likely, adding to the resistance of what is coming” and the reminder to trust in the perfect unfolding.

  • Jeannette — Love this great reminder about finding what feels better!
    Recently, I’ve begun to notice how much better intentions work when I’m right up against the experience, time-wise.
    For example, in October when I was out on the road, someone came up to me in a parking lot to point out that one of my tires had a slow leak. I had just crossed the border back into the US from Canada and was in a small town in upstate New York.
    I pulled into a gas station that also had an oil change service. I thought one of these guys could surely refer me to a place that would repair tires. Before I went in, I intended to find a wonderful place with helpful, capable people (and, as I always do, very handsome men who are always smiling… but that’s really for a different post!).
    Turned out that the guy doing the oil change could handle the problem and he did so very adroitly. It was done in a jiffy, with a big smile and lots of questions about Texas (noticing my license plates). And, nearly 8,000 miles later, I’m still driving on that tire. The whole thing cost me $10 and only because I insisted on paying something.
    This is just one example of things that happen all the time when I remember to set the intention that the experience is going to be delicious in just the right way according to what I want. I asked Paul about all of this and here is what they say:

    What is most important to notice is the high degree of efficiency in all of these transactions. Instead of trying to figure out, far in advance, what you should be doing and trying to bridge that gap on your own, you have discovered something very important and very delicious: each moment brings exactly what is wanted (such as an improvement in tire conditions, for example) and does not really need nor calls for advance planning.
    In fact, when you are intending far in advance, what you are doing is, most likely, adding to the resistance of what is coming. You’ve had the idea, so it is done and is waiting for you in your vibrational warehouse. Your experience, through the contrast of each moment, will help you further refine and define what you are wanting. But, most of all, it is our recommendation to you to trust in the perfect unfolding of all things and that you are always in exactly the right place at the right time and that what you have stored up in your vibrational warehouse is coming to you in exactly the perfect way and in the right measure.
    In other words, find ways to feel better from where you are, delight in what you have created already, and intend that each next moment is better than the one you just created.

    Thanks Jeannette!

  • Oh boy, Jesann, what a great point!
    So true for ANY manifesting exercise we engage – the chanting, journaling, scripting, visualizing.
    I never considered the energy that I did a chant with. Thanks for that eye-opener!

  • Jesann says:

    Good point!! It’s one thing to have a meta-intention-setting session where you step back and look at how things are going, but it’s so easy to slip into the depths of “don’t have.” I actually had to stop saying mantras (like the Lakshmi money mantra) because I realized I was saying them from the standpoint of “Please help me.” They were reinforcing in my mind that I had bad money luck and that it needed to be fixed–in other words, 108 times per day I was reinforcing that there was something wrong with me.
    (I wonder what would happen if I started saying them again but with the state of mind that they celebrate how good things are now, and they add to the easiness of it all, rather than the idea that they are fixing something.)

  • I think appreciation could be a manifester’s most powerful skill, Janette!

  • >