Having Intentions Vs Living Intentionally: What’s the Difference?

There is a big difference between having intentions and living intentionally. Our intentions are our thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. Some think about it as choices.

We are faced with dozens of choices every day — some little, some big; from whether to choose a salad or a chocolate sundae for lunch to what job we take, our world today is full of options.


On the other hand, living intentionally requires action. Your good thought is meaningless without action. Once your thoughts get put into action, then you can become intentional.

The thing is, sometimes it’s much easier to just go with the flow and not think about those options and the required action.

What is an Intention?

TheFreeDictionary.com defines intention as

a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action, an objective.

Merriam-Webster.com defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way.

As shared in “When your Relationships are Good, your Life is Good”, an intention is a clear and positive statement of an outcome you want to experience.  An intention is a goal, or vision, that guides your activities, thoughts, attitudes, and choices.   Hence, your intentions influence your actual experiences.

You can set an intention in any area of your life- physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Although intentions start with a mental picture of your goal, intentions require focus, action, and positive energy to manifest.

Having Intentions; Good or Otherwise

Many fathers have stood in the doorway to their homes as a young man approaches planning to pick up their daughter for a dance or a date. The Dad usually works into the conversation “what are your intentions young man”? That may sound a little dated phraseology, but its meaning is clear. The Dad is saying tell me what you are thinking about doing even before the evening has begun.

Our active minds can conjure thoughts of very good intentions like:

  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to spend less or save more
  • I’m going to get that promotion
  • I’m going to marry him/her

Why are Intentions Important?

Intentions provide a framework for you to set priorities, use your time wisely, and align yourself with the resources you need to manifest your goals.   The process of setting and working towards your intentions declares to yourself, others, and the universe that you are serious about your dreams and goals.

A strong, positive, and energized intention is likely to repel that which is not in alignment with it.  The opposite is also true.  A strong, positive, and energized intention will attract the essence of what it is.

Having good intentions is a far cry from living intentionally. As the sage wisdom tells us “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. This sentiment makes it clear that having good ideas, or well meaning ones will not be worth anything without action. This is where intentional living kicks in.

Living Intentionally

Living intentionally is about doing the things that are important to you even when they’re not easy. It is about solid choices consistent with your vision about where you want to go.

Too many people get lulled into routines and habits that never produce the outcome they dreamed about. Instead of intentional living, they drift.

In the best selling book “[easyazon_link keywords=”Living Forward” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Living Forward[/easyazon_link]”, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy describe the need to stop drifting through life. They ask the question are we drifting through life as spectators, reacting to our circumstances when necessary and wondering just how we got to this point anyway? Or are we directing it, maximizing the joy and potential of every day, living with a purpose or mission in mind?

They describe three stages of the transformational change that can occur when one decides to live an intentional life; drift, shift, and lift. I’ve added a fourth segment; gift. As you decide to stop drifting and move to intentional living, you ultimately become a gift to those around you and the communities where you live.

When you apply these four stages of growing toward intentional living, you can see the differences in each of the three key areas of work, life, and faith.

Intentional Leadership

If you are in any position of leadership whether at work, at home, or in your community, you must be intentional. You know that, you feel that. Yet how often do you sense the drifting in your own actions? Are you just riding the wave? Or keeping it in cruise control?

Perhaps you have found your own ways to stay intentional with everything you do. Congratulations. But I am guessing that there are many of you out there who suffer from the occasional drift in your actions.

Let today be the day you decide to change. Forget yesterday and the opportunities lost. Today is a new day. Start fresh. Get your focus. Set your course. Remember, your good intentions need action.

There are way too many great plans and coaches available to help you plotting that course. There is no excuse. You can make a difference, right where you are, right now.

[reminder]How are you living and leading intentionally?[/reminder]

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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