Getting Thoughtful About Intentions

Intention is an action. It’s how we define what we expect from ourselves in a situation. It involves how we want to feel or what we want to achieve. Intentions represent a proactive approach to different moments in life, big or small.

However, they don’t always guide us in the right direction. They lack feedback and don’t have all the facts. Much of the time, the intentions we set are too rigid, controlled more by circumstances than gut feelings.

What if intentions were more thoughtful and informed? This concept is central to my book The In-Between: Life in the Micro. Here’s why this matters so much.

What Are Thoughtful Intentions?

Intentions are aspirational. We set a goal in our minds as we encounter new experiences. There’s no specific outline to these intentions or the ability to evolve them as we move forward.

Thoughtful intentions are the next level. They include the information at hand and support what you hope to achieve. They account for circumstances while not allowing them to take control.

Why Do Thoughtful Intentions Matter?

Evolving from standard intentions to those that are more thoughtful requires being outcome-focused. They deliver a way to be present in the micro-moments in life. These are where real living and authentic interactions occur.

It’s a way to prohibit circumstances from ruining the intention you set. We can’t factor these out, as circumstances will always arise. They’ll force you to pivot, but there’s less discomfort if you’re flexible and agile.

I’ve always respected thoughtful intentions, but I didn’t always practice them. Today, I’m still trying my best to live this way. It’s something you have to work on through reflection and awareness.

How to Make Your Intentions More Thoughtful

In my book, I talk about some changes you can make to be more intentional, including:

  • Think about the ideal outcome as your intention and what you need to keep this. With this mindset, circumstances have less power to overtake intentions.
  • Remember that the outer world reflects the inner world. If you work to improve your intentions, experiences will as well because you’ve developed a greater awareness of yourself and others.
  • Accept that the unexpected is always a probability and prepare accordingly. Remaining focused on vision versus the circumstances enables you to hold your intention.
  • Understand that failing to set an intention means circumstances will always win. If you go into situations with no guide on expectation, the circumstances will create these. It doesn’t matter how familiar the scenario is; you must do this. If you don’t, you can’t complain after the fact.
  • Align thoughtful intentions with your inner knowledge and core values. The inner self is the authentic self, and the intentions you form need to be true to this. If they are not, you’ll have significant inner turmoil.

Not every thoughtful intention will be easy to set and hold. Having this mindfulness does put you in a good position to be thoughtful consistently.

You can find more insights and examples of thoughtful intentions by reading my book.

Informed Intentions Make You Less Vulnerable to Circumstances

Intentions are a normal part of the human experience. We may have the best intentions in mind in a situation, but they can quickly spiral out of control when circumstances change. Typical intentions don’t allow for adaptability. In order to take circumstances out of the equation, we have to make informed decisions throughout our lives.

Informed intentions are a theme in my book The In-Between: Life in the Micro. In this reflective account of my life, I discuss how I evolved from being someone who only focused on the macro—the major goals, priorities, and moments. In doing so, I neglected and rejected the in-between, which describes all the other parts of life.

Let’s look at the idea of informed intentions and how they help you embrace the micro.

What Are Informed Intentions?

An intention is a plan or objective. These are aspirations we expect and desire. They are often abstract in nature. Informed intentions, however, are more concrete, accounting for the information at hand. Setting them revolves around being outcome-driven.

Following this mindset means I develop an intention based on what I want from an experience. It also allows me to avoid getting derailed by changing circumstances. When you hone the ability to do this, getting dysregulated because of the environment happens less often. Further, informed intentions help me be present.

How to Set Informed Intentions

Making this shift in expectations requires some internal work. My book offers many examples. Here are a few insights from those stories:

  • Concentrate on the outcome. Guide intentions based on the outcomes you want so circumstances don’t take over.
  • Remember that your outer world reflects your inner world. When you have the right internal intentions, experiences improve.
  • Consider that the unexpected is always a possibility. Life is full of surprises, and we can’t control them all. Managing intentions and keeping them informed requires focusing on your vision rather than the circumstances.
  • Expect circumstances to win if you don’t set an intention. If you approach any scenario without an intention, circumstances will be in the driver’s seat and influence your decisions and responses.
  • Align informed intentions with your inner awareness. This internal truth is your authentic self and gut instinct. They are valuable, and you shouldn’t dismiss them. Your informed intentions should be in step with these. When they aren’t, you will face significant internal turmoil.
  • Look to awareness as a foundation for making informed intentions a habit. Intentions and awareness should work together. Awareness of self and others is crucial to making informed intentions a natural part of your behavior.

Don’t Let Circumstances Disrupt Intentions

Intentions and circumstances intertwine to create experiences. It’s going to be better if intentions are in charge rather than the circumstances. When you begin to do this on a regular basis, you also grow more connected to the in-between. You can appreciate the micro-moments in life at a completely new level.

Get more insights and practical advice on these concepts by reading my book.

Trauma Creates a Wall to Micro-Moments

Everyone carries around the residue of trauma. Some of us have had more than our fair share, but it’s impossible to go through the human experience without acquiring some on the way. It shapes us in many ways. If unresolved, it causes trouble later on and can wall us off to micro-moments.

Why do micro-moments even matter? Well, they are the everyday connections and pockets of time that enable us to become better partners, friends, family members, and colleagues. Micro-moments were not on my radar for a long time, thanks to trauma. It made me want to be a superachiever with no time to be vulnerable.

Then, a lot of stuff happened, and I hit a rock-bottom moment of reflection. Instead of being blind to micro-moments, I began to embrace them. I share my journey in my book The In-Between: Life in the Micro.

I Didn’t Want to Be Hurt Again

When we experience trauma in childhood and adolescence, we develop a protective part of ourselves. This part of identity builds walls so we won’t be hurt again. However, the wall cuts out the good stuff, too, so we sit in a neutral spot.

I certainly didn’t want to encounter any more hurt in my life after my childhood. I thought that walling myself off was a good course of action. I just didn’t realize until many years later what I missed by only focusing on the macro.

Being Vulnerable Is Hard for the Traumatized

The traumatized brain fights to avoid vulnerability. That protective part wants to be in control. As a result, those with unresolved trauma are excellent at building walls. It seems to be the safe path, but what are we missing by not letting ourselves be vulnerable?

We miss out on the in-between and the micro-moments that are often joyful and illuminating. The journey to being able to be present and aware of these moments requires deep reflection and a desire to change.

Redefining Your Identity through Micro-Moments

The identity that keeps us from enjoying and living in the in-between must evolve. One approach to this is setting intentions. An intention is what we expect and want to happen. Without intentions, we become a victim of circumstances.

Intentions also have to be adaptable to the situation. Staying true to them helps us no longer be anxious and fearful of micro-moments and connections.

I learned about the value of micro-moments through this metamorphosis. When I was only concerned about the macro-moments, I achieved much, but I’m not proud of the old me. Reflection allowed me to look at the past through a new lens. It was necessary and uncomfortable. However, that’s how growth works.

There’s a lot to be excited about when you turn your attention to micro-moments. Without them, we have a life less lived. It’s changed the way I communicate and made me a more empathetic person, in general.

If you want to truly experience micro-moments, it’s time to think about why you brush them aside now. You’ll find more stories, tips, and more in my book.