10 Ways to Set a Powerful Intent

Written by Christine Kane

There was a comment posted by a reader (David) on my last blog, Sabotage and Persistence. David writes:

What you have referred to in your post is the difference between holding the intention of sabotage, or any other possible intention in another direction. We have the ability to make our world different at any time with a new intention. If you choose to hold the intention of disaster, that’s what will happen.

I’d like to add that I don’t think people necessarily know they are choosing to hold the intention of disaster. Some people have been on auto-pilot for so long, they never stop to think about intention at all. In the words of Ernest Holmes, “Practically the whole human race is hypnotized because it thinks what somebody else told it to think.”

It might take some time to grok how much shift you create when you decide to choose a different intention. (Okay, so my spell check doesn’t mind “Oprah,” but it underlines “grok.”) So, in the spirit of not giving attention to things like “sabotage,” “messing up,” and “disaster,” here are 10 Ways to Set a Powerful Intent for yourself.

1. Decide who you want to BE.

Before thinking about what you want to do or what you want to have, ask yourself who you want to be. If, like I wrote about in the last post, you feel like you have sabotaged your every attempt at living the life you want, then step back from that and decide to be different. Be gentle. Be wise. Be someone who is creating a great life or a better career or financial health. (Or, if you’re just beginning this stuff, just be willing to be kind to yourself.)

About six years ago, I took some time off from the road because this singer-songwriter chick-on-the-road thing was exhausting. During that time, I decided that I wanted to be happy, in addition to being a performing songwriter. Part of being happy meant that I had to decide how I was going to show up in the world. Who I wanted to be. Not what.

I chose to be 1] inspiring (because it was the inspiring people who had gotten me to change my life), 2] encouraging (because so few people in my life had been genuinely encouraging to me that every time I was with someone who said, “Of course you can do this!” without fear or warnings, I would just bask in their belief), and 3] healing (because the best reason to do anything is to serve other people, even if it’s when I’m on stage telling a story about my travels and people are laughing. Healing has many faces. I want to be one of them). I have a few other intents as well, but this is the core of it.

I also had to include myself in those intents. I had to be encouraging to myself. I had to include my own healing in that equation. Being it doesn’t mean just sending it out. Include yourself in the intent equation.

Does this mean that I succeed in inspiring, encouraging and healing all the time? Not at all. But that guideline has brought clarity to how I show up in my career and in my day.

2 – Write your intent. State it aloud to yourself often.

This may sound so very un-cool and un-hip. (I’m a musician. These things matter, you know.) But here’s the question – Do you want to be cool? Or do you want to be happy? (You can be both, I guess. But from the looks of things on iTunes, being cool requires getting way pissed off.)

I state my intent to myself before I walk on to any stage. It’s kind of like telling my ego, “Okay, here’s what’s gonna happen when I get out on to the stage. So why don’t you stay here in the dressing room and play with the mascara while I perform? I’ll be back soon.” And it works.

It used to be that my ego would tag along saying, “Oh brother. I gotta see this.” And throughout the show, she’d be there over my shoulder saying, “Hmm. Not so inspiring there when you missed that chord.” Or “Healing? Which part? The part where your voice cracked or the part where no one laughed at your joke?” I stayed with it. My ego eventually came less and less on the stage with me because I stopped paying attention to her.

Grab some index cards. Write down your intent. Post them everywhere. Read them aloud, especially when you’re tempted by old limited thinking. This works. Believe me.

3 - Begin Each Day Consciously.

4 – Monitor your thoughts.

That’s all. You don’t have to make it a big thing and tighten all your face muscles in hard concentration all day, listening to your thoughts, and then beating yourself up for forgetting to listen to your thoughts, and then beating yourself up for beating yourself up for forgetting. Just decide now. And then decide again. Watch your thoughts and witness how often you move into worry, anxiety, fear, and negativity. For now, just gently notice it. These are the thoughts that unconsciously send you out of your intent. At first, it’s enough to notice them. If you’re especially motivated, you can add affirmations when you hear yourself worrying or saying bad things.

5 – Watch your Language

This goes hand in hand with watching your thoughts. Only it’s easier. Here’s some ideas:

- Use AND instead of BUT. “But” dismisses the statement before it. “And” includes it. For instance, “That’s a good song, but it needs some editing” isn’t nearly as encouraging as “That’s a good song, AND it needs some editing.”

- Be careful with “never” and “always.” Never and always are words of hysteria. “I always screw everything up!” “I’ll never figure this out!” First off, it’s not true. (If you always screwed everything up, you wouldn’t have made it out of the womb.) And second off, extreme words are designed to hook you in. It’s just your emotions taking a joyride.

- Should is a crappy word. It makes you a victim. Choose instead “I am choosing to,” “I would like to,” or “I don’t want to.”

- Stop calling yourself depressed, and stop allowing anyone to tell you that you are depressed. A friend of mine said to me recently that she loved that I never called her depressed. I was the only person who had refused that word to describe her. It helped her to get off anti-depressants. I’m not militant about this. I just think that life has it’s ups and downs, and that we’re meant to feel emotions, not judge them and then suppress them. Experiment with not using the word “depressed” when referring to yourself.

- Delete the word “hate” from your vocabulary. I don’t care if you’re talking about war, politicians, the food at Sonic, (holymotherofgod, how do people eat there?!) or the businessmen who shout into their cell phones on the airplane as if we all need to hear their latest idea. When you say the word hate, you give that thing a lot of energy. Also, you deplete your own energy, as “hate” is a powerful word.

- When people ask you how you’re doing, try this for a week: Say “I’m great!” I used to think if I told people I’m great, I had better have a damn good reason for saying it, like I just won the lottery or something. I thought it would make me look suspicious, and people would start to wonder if something was wrong with me. But then I did it. And you know what? Most people don’t really care why you’re great. You’re saying it for you.

6 - Create a Vision Board

7 – Move out of therapy thinking and into forward thinking.

Therapy is and has been a great help to many of us, AND it can be easy to get stuck in seeing yourself as flawed. It’s a habit. Therapy thinking says, “I have to get it all fixed before I can move on to better things.” Forward thinking says, “What would happen if I acted in spite of how I’m feeling about my life, or my capabilities?”

When it comes right down to it, we’re all complete train wrecks. Have a little celebration about your own train-wreck-ed-ness (invite the rest of us too), and then move forward, take actions, and learn that it is possible to function well without having figured it all out.

8 – Stop complaining.

I know. It’s hard. But try it. One of my favorite tenets of coaching is, “I make requests rather than complain.” I travel a lot, so I see a lot of complaining out there. I’ve decided that people would rather complain than ask for what they want. You don’t have to get attitude-y, just ask for what you want. For example: “Would it be possible to eat somewhere other than Sonic?”

Go one step further. Go on a complaining fast. Simply do not allow yourself to complain about anything for one day. No bitching. No whining. No moaning. See what happens.

9 – Get a friend or co-worker to start a “holding intent” partnership.

It is so much better when you have an encouraging partner to help you in this work. Email this post to a friend (click on the link at the bottom of this post) and try a one month experiment of being each other’s encouraging voice. Here are the ground rules to this partnership:

1. Let each other know your intents at the beginning of the month.

2. Remind each other of that intent throughout the month.

3. Put a five-minute limit on whining. After any whining session, the whinee must make the whiner repeat their intent aloud, and commit to one small action step to shift the aformentioned whining energy. The whiner then must call the whinee when the promised action is complete.

4. Help each other watch your language.

5. Call or email each other with little (and big) victories.

6. Celebrate at the end of the month. Rinse. And repeat the next month.

10. Be persistent.

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{41 comments ... read them below or add one}

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{41 comments ... read them below or add one}

Rick June 26, 2006 at 7:31 am

Excellent list, Christine. Point number one is the reason the top of every page of my blog contains the phrase When we were born, we brought only who we were. When we die, we will take only who we are.

Two of the worst self-defeating habits are dwelling on past mistakes and concentrating on negative things in the present. Almost all of your points show ways to get around these.

This weekend a friend of mine asked how life was. I told her it was perfect. Looking at the surface events and conditions of my life, she said “How can you say that?” I tried to get across to her that these things she saw as problems were some of my most important teachers.

[Reply]

christine June 26, 2006 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for the note, Rick. (and thanks for the blogroll link!) You’re right…dwelling is a terrible habit. As is comparing. And it’s oh so easy to fall into those places. I’m glad this helped!

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Rick June 26, 2006 at 10:36 pm

You’re welcome for the link. What you write is clear and real. I hope the link helps more people see it and learn from it.

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Susie June 28, 2006 at 8:41 pm

Hey Christine,
Thanks for another great blog entry. As much as I read your blogs, I’m sorry to say this is my first response (I guess I’m a baby blogger too). Anyways, I love your thoughts on placing intent in your life, work, relationships, etc. It’s a great way to discover who you are, what gifts you have to give and what you want to get out of life. Even if someone does not know who they want to be, I think it’s also important to make a list of who you DON’T want to be (i.e. I don’t want to be a whinner, nor a dweller).

Much like you I want to be an inspirer, an encourager and a model to others about what being true to yourself means.

I noticed you’re playing soon in Salt Lake, and I’m not sure if you’ve been here before or not, but it could quite possibly be one of the prettiest musice venues you’ll ever be at and while you’re here I’d love to buy you a meal at Sonic…….j/k ;-)

[Reply]

christine June 29, 2006 at 6:12 am

Hi there Susie! Thanks for jumping into commenting! It’s good to hear from you. Yes, lots of times in my life, I’ve carved out where I want to be by recognizing first where I don’t want to be. It’s a bold move when you finally say where you DO want to be.

Yes, I’ve played in Salt Lake a few times. It’s amazing. Actually, all of Utah is beautiful! Are you going to be at that festival? See you at Sonic! (very funny!)

[Reply]

Susie June 29, 2006 at 12:59 pm

Yes, I will be at the Snowbird Folk Festival and I’ve been telling my friends about you and so they’re coming as well. Yes, all of Utah is amazing!!! I’ve been here 6 months and everyday I find something new….it’s a photographer’s dream world!!!

Anyways, see you next week; and don’t worry, there are plenty of other restaurants than the grease-filled burgers at Sonic!

[Reply]

Starbucker June 29, 2006 at 11:50 pm

Christine, I see you were way ahead of me on the “but” thing (I loved the other language “don’ts” too)! This is a wonderful post, in that it really crystalizes the “way” to being an optimist. Since I started blogging people had been asking me how I “became” an optimist, and after I read this I thought – this is how! It just didn’t happen out of thin air. One day I had to say, “I’m going to be happy”, and decide to stop complaining (too much), to think forward rather than backward, to use more postive language, and to look at the glass half full instead of half empty. Yes, that took a heck of a lot of intent. Thanks for the “documentation” of this journey!

[Reply]

christine June 30, 2006 at 10:25 am

Thanks for your thoughts here, Starbucker… (I know you have a real name somewhere, no?) Yea, when i read your post, it cracked me up that we were writing the same thing. Choosing to be happy is kind of the key thing. No one ever told me about that part when I was growing up! Oh well. This is why we blog!

[Reply]

Starbucker June 30, 2006 at 1:01 pm

You are so right! And my “real” name is Terry (although I’m getting fond of Starbucker). Thanks again for helping me figure this all out.

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Jack March 14, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for putting an authentic voice out there for artists in search of business advice. I’ve been reading so many of your articles as I collect my thoughts and work towards the launch of my own graphic design business. It’s nice to know that my feelings and frustrations are not unique. I’d rather be sitting barefoot in the park with a pencil in one hand and a diet coke in the other but I find myself in loafers and button downs most days. Guess what’s on my vision board? Grass and camouflage cargo shorts. More good things are on the horizon, and I love that my vision board seems to magically energize and motivate me.

[Reply]

Christine Kane March 14, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Hi Jack! Thanks for the note. And I’m glad that some of these posts have helped you. It’s definitely a “thing”…this artist v. business person stuff! I hear it all the time. So, good luck with those camouflage shorts! Let me know how it’s going!

[Reply]

b chou March 22, 2007 at 2:53 am

Dear Christine,

Your article on Vision Board is incredible – it is exactly what i need at this point in my life. so i thank you from the bottom of my heart :)

greetings from Scottsdale, AZ!

[Reply]

Christine Kane March 22, 2007 at 1:11 pm

thanks b chou. oh, how i love arizona!

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Reg B. October 18, 2007 at 9:50 am

Christine…
Just found your web site… Though your article was very good…
I have read,done all of the abve advise but my problem is that
and I’m not making up excuese is doing it every day
I can’t get motivated… Is there a trick to this…
And after not seeing any results i get depressed and begin to
hate my life… I know its wrong so can you help this soul
be a better person…
Reg…

[Reply]

Whatever-ishere November 21, 2007 at 11:34 am

thanks for the GREAT post! Very useful…

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Inner Goddess September 24, 2008 at 7:22 am

Hey Christine

I stumbled upon your website after googling “life’s purpose” and now I’m fully hooked. Maybe that’s my life’s purpose to be addicted to reading your blogs?? Jokes aside I think you have a refreshing approach and its really speaking to my inner goddess. And that inner goddess is going to start a business throwing sari parties for women to get in touch with their sparkly and gorgeous selves.

Heres to powerful intentions…

[Reply]

kathreen December 12, 2008 at 11:29 am

oh, christine! can i just say yet again how grateful i am for your coming into my life?!? you have a way of connecting – it’s so potent that i find myself laughing out loud all alone in my office and this doesn’t happen often i tell you. see, my fairy god mother just granted my latest heart’s desire which is to write and not just write but get-published-in-a-magazine write! yes, mama, my very own COLUMN which has been on my wish list for some time now. the thing i’m finding out though is that when one commits to something like this, there is no more space for much procrastinating and giving in to the whims of whatever (as in pre-column bloggy-blog days: q:so how’s your blog and what are you writing about these days, k? k: oh, whatever-whatever. or worse, k: huh? what blog? i have a blog?!?)
so all these gushy words said, let me rephrase my first line: thank you for coming into my writing life, christine. you are a gigantisaurus (i like making up words, too!) of a god-send to this blogling turned columnling!
Love&Light,
cK.* we even have the same initials! HEE.

[Reply]

Thauna December 28, 2008 at 4:16 am

I’m so glad that I stumbled my way here from a reading group where we were discussing choosing a word for 2009…I think one of the ladies has been to your retreat. Anyway, so much good stuff for me here, I’m happy to have found your wonderful information and I’m grateful for your generous spirit to share. I’m just starting out on the blogging journey, trying to figure out what I have to say. I’ve been on the intention and LOA paths for a while, but I’m still refining and trying to find my way. I love this post on intentions…some of the points you mention are things I’ve been working on and I really enjoyed your fresh perspective! I have put you on my Blogs that Inspire Me list and I’m looking forward to learning along the way with you. Thank you!

[Reply]

sukey January 14, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I liked Rick’s post from 3 years ago. (Okay, so I just found Christine’s site.)

I liked that he said his life was perfect. In the past year, I left my marriage, lost 50 lbs, suffered great financial privation, faced eviction, found a job, moved to a new house that’s all mine, got a second job, and despite all of that, and the stresses were great to say the least, and I had A LOT of emotional support from my friends, I never looked back and it’s been one of the best years of my life, and probably the single hardest one. But it’s also been one of such amazing growth. I did things I never knew I could do.

But I did them. At 50. So please, all of you out there, especially you women, you can begin again at any time and any age. You can reinvent yourself any time. There’s no secret. Be scared and DO IT ANYWAY.

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Tre ~ May 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm

hey christine….value deeply this message and taking it to heart :) thank you for all the links as well. hope ur enjoying ur weekend…..

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Theresa July 6, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Christine,
I have been reading your blog for some time. It’s really uplifting, and I have been able to take away a lot from many of your posts. Did you ever get tired of doing the work though? What did you do when you hit a wall? What did you do when you felt like giving up?

[Reply]

Victor Andrada April 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hi Christine,
Thank you for posting your “10 ways” above! Really assisted in putting some things into perspective. Glad I found this! And I’ll pass it on.
Peace to ya,
Victor

[Reply]

swati January 14, 2012 at 2:46 am

Hey Christine,
Just wanted to say that apart from being TOTALLY addicted to your brand of wisdom, I simply love love love the way you write :)

Keep ‘em coming
Cheers and love,
Swati

[Reply]

Eloise January 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

Ms. Kane,

Thank you for you, and for what you do. This post gave me a massive lightbulb moment – which is really something for me right now. I never realised what Therapy thinking was until I found myself guilty five minutes ago! You’ve really given me the confidence to go out there and set intents for my day. No more passive living for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Eloise

[Reply]

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