Living With Intention Versus Setting an Intention

Published on: December 1, 2013

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We are at that exciting, glorious, anticipation-filled time of year where we reflect back on the past 12 months, assess our strengths and opportunities, appreciate the growth and learning, and begin to connect with Spirit in creating the New Year on the mental and spiritual plane. We are co-creators with God, constantly inviting Spirit to be co-pilot and Chief Navigator. We rely on God for guidance, sustenance and direction. But to what degree do we rely on each other?

This is a compelling question for those of us who are leaders, isn’t it? We support, we give, we teach and lead – but to what degree does our vision for the New Year include not only self-care (which often occurs in isolation) but also engaging in the conscious creation of ongoing support? Where do we have a sounding board and support system to talk over potential directions when we face the proverbial fork in the road? Creating life beyond the ordinary “just-another-year-in-my-life” fashion requires connection on three levels:

Connection with Self: Listening to my emotions, my desires and my inner voice.

Connection with God: Engaging in spiritual practices that enrich and feed our souls.

Connection with Community: Communing deeply and regularly with others about life, ministry, mission, vision, goals and actions, getting feedback and establishing accountability.

Here is what we need to begin grappling with: There is a tremendous difference between setting an intention and living with intention!

Take that in for a moment. There is a tremendous difference between setting an intention and living with intention. We are very skilled at catching the vision of spirit and setting intentions in alignment with that vision. But how skilled are we at taking that vision and weaving it into the very fabric of our lives? That is what I call Living with Intention. It is making your life a living prayer. When you catch Spirit’s vision for your life and then do the hard, often tedious work of crafting that vision into a series of actions, guided by Spirit, infused with love, you have begun to live a life of intention.

One of the most elemental structures that helps us to live life with intention is a rock-solid support network of people who see the best in us, call us higher, and hold us accountable to the intentions we set and the vision God has planted in our hearts and minds. It is vital to set up and maintain this support network, and also to serve as support in someone else’s network. We are relational beings and we grow in relationship with others.

Begin this year making a commitment to move from setting an intention to living with intention. Create a group of people to share and celebrate the vision from which these intentions sprang forth. It does not need to be a large group. Simply meeting with two or three other people who have a shared commitment to living with intention is enough. As you begin this practice, how can you bring this notion into your congregation? Establish a “Living 2014 with Intention” Sunday where everyone creates their intention, and then has the opportunity to form small groups to cultivate that intention into a set of committed actions for the New Year. What a difference this would make! What intentions do you have for your ministry that would be more fully supported through this sort of community structure?

The steps are easy, but the application is not. To review the steps again:

  1. Capture the vision from Spirit.
  2. Turn that vision into a set of intentions.
  3. Form a small group of committed partners to call you higher, see your possibilities and hold you accountable to staying on track.
  4. Translate these intentions into a series of actions and get started.

Creating a year beyond the ordinary and predictable requires that we do things differently. Reach out to others across this movement and create the structures for living with intention. Life is so rich, so juicy, so magical…. Let’s embrace it together in a way that brings more to us all and to the world.

Jackie Woodside
Jackie Woodside is a best-selling author, TEDx speaker and trainer. She leads spiritual retreats and offers professional development training and keynote speeches around the country. She has spoken at many Unity centers in the US and Canada. Her third book The Money Vibe was published in Dec 2017.

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