7 Ways to Wreck a Powerful Intention - Christine Kane

Let’s re-visit intention.

If anything in your life is not as you want it to be, simply begin with the intent to shift it. Intention is not about making fists and thinking hard. It’s not about setting goals. It goes deeper than that.

“Intention rules the earth,” says Oprah.

It’s true. Intention is the beginning point. During the first week of my Great Big Dreams e-Seminar – which was last week – we work deeply on intention.

“What do you want? Are you sure? What do you REALLY want?”

Many of the people I’ve worked with at my retreats or in the e-Seminars are completely flummoxed when they begin to ask themselves what they want. This is true for most of us. We’ve been believing our limiting thoughts for so long, that we’ve forgotten that we can ask for what we want and that we have the power to create or attract it. The idea of setting an intent is daunting, to say the least.

Naturally, at first, the e-Seminarians inadvertently try to play it safe, in their language and in their focus.

That’s where I come into the picture.

I ask them to clarify what they wrote. I examine their language and encourage them not to limit themselves. I challenge them to get over their fears of being bigger and bolder. In other words, I am a royal pain in the patookus.

So now, it’s your turn. Are you familiar with any of these techniques that wreck an otherwise powerful intention?

#1 – Using “So that.”

Almost everyone begins with this insidious little phrase. They write things like this:

“I intend to lose weight and get in shape SO THAT I can be energetic and happy in my daily life and make better choices for myself.”

Can you see why this language is limiting?

SO THAT says: “I can’t have THIS if I don’t have THAT.”

In the example above, you could simply intend to have perfect health and be energetic and conscious of your daily choices. That opens up more possibilities. As you expand into that intention, your high energy might lead you to play in a volleyball league where you meet people who like to hike together. Maybe you start hiking with them, and you meet another person who later invites you to his house to show you how to cook great greens. You ultimately lose weight while being happy and energetic. Losing weight didn’t have to come first. See?

The best way to avoid the “so that” trap is to be brave enough to ask, “What do I ultimately want here?” If you want two things, you can divide the intentions with AND or WHILE. “I intend to find a fantastic career path while I create massive wealth.” It’s a different energy than “so that.”

#2 – Implementing Bureaucrat Speak Calibrated to Leverage Total Mental Paralysis

I often work with people who have been in corporate or bureaucratic jobs for so long that they forget to use language that speaks to their souls, not to their bosses. Their intentions read like this:

“I intend to leverage an incremental degree of financial stability insomuch as I can facilitate a reasonable facsimile of value-added methodology.”

My first question is always the same: How do you feel when you read this?

Typically, the person will sigh and say, “Not very good.”

I remind them that an intention is supposed to excite us a lot, and scare us a little. Make the language playful and clear.

3 – “-ing” Overuse

Many first round intentions go like this:

I intend that I am becoming clear about my career path while my health is getting better and I am attracting a loving romantic partner.

It’s not that there’s anything WRONG with this, technically speaking. But there is hesitation in there. It’s more courageous to step up and say, “I intend to be clear about my career path as I live in perfect health.”

And remember this: the universe always says YES.

So, in this case, the universe says, “Yes indeed. You are becoming clear. Your health is getting better and you are, in fact, attracting a loving partner… she’ll be along any minute now!”

The same rule applies to intending in any future tense. “I intend that I will have…” “I intend that I’m going to…”

Why not intend it now in present tense?

4 – Intention Overload

Some people begin the e-Seminar and they see so much in their lives that they want to change that they send me an intention that looks like Claire’s:

“My intention is to get clear about the next steps I’m taking in my life in terms of health, lifestyle, my relationship and my work life.”

This is what I call Attention Splatter. It’s trying to get it all done at once. And it doesn’t work. Often, it’s the best way to sabotage any progress at all. That’s because your attention is powerful. If it gets splattered, it can be hard to get anything moving.

Intention Overload can also be a sign that you’re avoiding a deeper issue that you hope will go away if you focus on a whole bunch of other things.

As it turned out, this was Claire’s situation. She had been in an unhealthy relationship for several years. As we worked together, she realized that it was time to focus on it. She reworded her intention: “I intend to make a clear decision about my relationship.” And her journey began. She was able to get strong while doing the work of the seminar. Eventually, she ended the relationship. Many of her other intentions are just now beginning to manifest as a result of courageously facing this one area of her life.

Is there one thing you’ve been avoiding by trying to do a million other things?

5 – Trying to “figure out a way,” or “force myself.”

The beautiful thing about setting intention is that it’s a shout out to the universe and to your wisest deepest self. When you set an intention, you don’t have to know HOW.

So, if you intend “to force myself to get up and work out every morning,” then you’re stuck in the world of “I must make this happen.” Intention is gentler than that.

Yes, of course, you take action. But you don’t force anything or figure anything out. Sometimes this requires waiting a little while to clear out some of the clutter in your life, or even just allow for some rest while your mental chatter shuts up a bit. However, an intention is not about pushing yourself or figuring out how.

When I first got clear that I needed to heal bulimia, it was long before I knew about the concept of “setting intent.” However, I wrote in my journal that my first priority, above all else, was to heal and get healthy. I had NO idea how. I didn’t have to figure anything else. Within a year, I had met someone who had recovered from bulimia by using homeopathy. She pointed me in a direction that ultimately moved me into acupuncture. Of course, it wasn’t easy. But I healed bulimia, and I eventually healed any and all of the health effects from it. All the while I created a most amazing music career!

Trust me. You don’t need to figure out how and you don’t need to push yourself.

6 – Questioning your ego, your dark side, your shallow self, etc

“Isn’t this just my ego wanting this? How will I know if I’m honoring my most authentic and deepest self?”

If you can’t hear your deepest self yet, then it’s good to start somewhere. The perfect and right path will open before you. As you get clear, you’ll start to know when something is an ego desire or not.

But it’s good to begin somewhere.

Many people start with their ego driving their intention. It’s pointless to try and change that. You are where you are right now. Accept the things you want and make that your starting point.

Amy had written two novels and was well into her third when she began in my e-Seminar. She had been signed by a well-known literary agent. And she was miserable. Her intention was about her career, and about her writing. She was struggling with her inner perfectionist and all of the ego voices that drove her to succeed.

Her soul, however, was reaching for true happiness. As she moved through the weeks, she sounded lighter and happier, even though she still had bad days. Courageously, she made purposefully small goals for her writing. “20 minutes a week!” She also continued to allow herself to re-write her intention as her joy rose to the surface more often. Before our final phone call, she wrote me a beautiful email that said her intention was simply “Above all, joy.”

That will be her guiding light for her writing, her mothering, or whatever other direction she goes. Her ego is not driving her intention. And I have a feeling that eventually her writing will become something she wants to do rather than something she has to do.

7 – Removing, facing, obliterating, or defaming obstacles, weaknesses, issues, patterns, and inner resistance

We all have issues and obstacles and patterns that pop up to sabotage our progress or terrify us into inaction. This doesn’t mean you have to mention them in your intention. Don’t worry. No one will accuse you of being in denial.

Remember this: energy flows where attention goes. When you include your “issues” in your intention, then you are, in essence, saying, “Let’s give this energy. Let’s focus on this. Let’s really dredge it up.”

Focus instead on the things that you DO want. That way, the obstacles and issues will naturally come up for release in their perfect and right time. You won’t be giving them all your precious attention.

  • Christine Kane

    thanks leslie! I think it’ll be starting September 1st. (email me for more info – christine@christinekane.com)

    what you wrote is a big thing. I, too, walk that line. The way I deal with it is to remain in a state of allowing/acceptance – while holding intention as well. For instance, someone in the e-Seminar just wrote me and said that she’s having a terrible day and that she’s sad and unwilling to feel good (she’s going through grief over a loss) — and I said that when this happens to me, I give myself full permission to jump into the sad stuff – all the while “holding” that intent for myself – KNOWING that it’s out there – but not with pressure or anything. The key thing you wrote is “gripping it too tightly.” (and using it as a weapon against ourselves on bad days.) Knowing the power of intention means you do neither of those things.

  • Leslie

    This post makes me wish I’d signed up for your e-seminar… When’s the next?

    Here’s what I’m struggling with now: the relationship between intent and acceptance. As I open to my current experience rather than struggling against it, my desperate need for change lessens. But I know from experience (or at least I think I do) that if I give up on some important intentions for change, I will end up feeling oppressed and unbalanced again down the line. How do we accept our present experience moment to moment and hold onto an intent too, without gripping it too tightly?

  • Elaine

    Re: Attention Splatter. I picked this quote up yesterday I think on Oprah’s website, about multi-tasking so thought I’d share it:

    “And please, forget multitasking. It doesn’t increase efficiency at all, and it taxes brain cells in the frontal cortex, which has a terrible impact on performance”.

    — Julie Morgenstern

    I think there is a myth that multi-tasking is great…It has certainly screwed me up in the past and caused a great deal of attention splatter in my life! Here’s to clarity and focus!

  • Christine Kane

    Darla – an intention, in my experience, is bigger and more encompassing. it’s a “place you want to get to.” somewhat like a goal. for instance, you can intend wealth – and then, within that intention, you can affirm things that come up AS YOU GO. so, let’s say you intend wealth, and then you uncover some old debt, and it freaks you out — you then use affirmations and work with them to clear that particular issue along the way. (at least, that’s how I do it!)

  • Darla


    Great post! However, I am a little confused about writing intentions or affirmations… I read that it was good to write as if you already have what it is you want to manifest. For example, “I have a healthy, loving marriage.” instead of “I intend to work on having a healthy, loving marriage.” Can you help me out on this? By the way, I appreciate all of the great posts. I look forward to checking your blog every day to see what is there to help me on my spiritual journey. I am grateful for you!

  • Marcy

    Thanks for providing practical, clearly written tips on a somewhat esoteric topic!

  • Christine Kane

    irene and emily – attention splatter seems to be one of the biggies when it comes to intention. it can be hard to focus on one thing. but it’s so worth it – you learn so much more. and the experience is so rich. emily – if “heal and get healthy” feels right, then that’s great. i don’t think you need to pay me royalties or anything! 😉

  • Emily

    I love this post. I believe very much in consciousness and energy have been incorporating more and more of that into my life. I’ve been trying to set an intent for a while now but have had a tendency to get caught up in the “attention splatter” as well as trouble discovering what exactly it is I want. I read this post yesterday and the intent you had “to heal and get healthy” really hit home for me. I felt rather like I was “stealing” for a while but after having sat with it and doing some Focusing, it simply fits for me at this time in my life. So…Thank you!!

  • Irene

    Hello Christine,
    Thank you for the great post.
    Well #4 is quite the knocker. “Attention splatter” truly define my full impact action. I was on a mission for a while to make my intentions happen all at once. I figure it was a good way to clear a space for other things. Well, it did not work very well. It sure send a lot of confusion and there is not much of energy trickle. I have change my tactic and the universe is responding quite nicely these days. Lessons to be learned at each moment.

  • Christine Kane

    hi petra – i love specifics and details. for instance – the way a stage FEELS was very important when I intended the types of shows I wanted to be doing. so – here’s a question — how important is hair color to you? It doesn’t seem like a big deal. but matters of the heart and soul – those are huge! more often than not I’m encouraging people to get a little more specific. with intention though – you can say “above all, joy” – and pretty much surrender hair color and everything else! 🙂

  • Petra

    Another great post, Christine. I need to work on #4 and really focus on something. But I do have a question about intentions–just how specific is one supposed to be? I used to write them down very specifically (for example, writing down hair color and types of jobs a romantic partner should have), But now I’m just going to write them down in a concise fashion and trust that the Universe knows best.

  • Viv

    I love your line “Energy flows where attention goes”- Excellent!

  • Sharon

    well, you are on a roll!
    I’ve got to watch my #4….. and #5 🙂

  • Christine Kane

    My husband has officially mocked me for getting behind on all these comments! i’m going to respond to just a few tonight!

    Colin – The universe always says yes — the first time I heard this was in Lenedra Carroll’s book The Architecture of All Abundance. But I hear it all over the place now. It’s a reminder to watch your thoughts and beliefs. I don’t agree that people would all be happy if this were true – because most people live from a place of fear and suspicion and they don’t trust themselves or others that things are okay. So, in that case, the universe says “yes, indeed, people are not to be trusted.” And you keep finding more scenarios like that. It’s a much longer discussion – but I highly recommend that book. It’s quite beautiful.

    janie – thanks for that little nod. I’m so glad that things have unfolded for you since the e-Seminar. (Of course, you worked your butt off and asked great questions and really got into the assigments, etc – so it’s no surprise!) i’m inspired to hear it!

    diane – good for you. and just remember that suze orman says to not even sell stuff – to just give it away and get it out of there. so, you got a little money. great! i remember taking a bunch of old books to the second hand book store – and the clerk, a woman in her 40’s or so – said, “Ohmigod, how can you just let these great books go??” I felt really stupid at first. But I realized that I hadn’t picked them up in years. I love books – but at some point, some of them have to go away! so you go girl!

    gladys and sue – we’ll all know who you are when we see women with sticky notes on their foreheads over the weekend!

    colin – looks like you’ve gotten a lot of help here!

  • Gladys

    Thank you so much for this post – and the previous one. They were exactly what I needed this week!

    Like Sue, I want to plaster sticky notes with “energy flows where attention goes” everywhere so I do NOT forget it!

  • Pat K.


    I hope you don’t mind if I try and give you my answer to your question. My simplistic view of “the Universe is always saying yes” is quite literall. Every second of every day it is saying yes. So, unless everyone who wants to be happy or (fill in the blank), is saying or thinking that all the time, and never thinking of negative things or things they do NOT want to happen, then it should work for them. But who can do that? Certainly it takes practice at retraining our minds and that Monkey Chatter of thoughts. It does take practice at setting a powerful intent.

    When you find yourself drifting to any type of negative thoughts, or thoughts of lack, etc, learn to train your mind to shift to the positive.

    It also help to not “expect things will just fall in your lap” because you have set what you think is a powerful intention. Live like you have the things you want, work towards them, be invested in them. Be like a child who is expecing a gift, totally open to what might come. I add to my meditation sessions where I’m setting my intent or asking for something… “…all my needs are met BEYOND my expectations.” This opens energy up for more than you hoped for.


  • Sue

    Energy flows where attention goes. I need to make that my mantra, sticky note to the forehead etc etc….

  • Diane

    A lot to ponder for a Friday evening Christine. It was a beautiful day here in Texas and I had a yard sale. What I don’t want has always been clear to me but what I really really want isn’t always so crystal. Yes, attention splatter could describe me. I do know that I have too much stuff and I want my house to be organized. When I look at something in my home I want to love it! I could hear your voice today when I sold things for 90% less than I paid for them. I had to keep telling myself, “it doesn’t matter what I paid…let it go!” I was asked many times, “Why are you selling this?!” I’d simply say “because I want to” with a smile. My mom tried to help and talk me out of selling some stuff but she didn’t succeed! I’m a recovering pack rat and so I’m feeling really good.

  • Ariff


    My, my, all that sounds so familiar…

  • Deb

    @Christine – quote “#2 – Implementing Bureaucrat Speak Calibrated to Leverage Total Mental Paralysis.” This is hilarious and reminds me of Wm. Zinsser’s chapter on “Clutter” in writing. But we all do it because we want to sound educated and sophisticated.

    I am guilty of “Intention Overload” and part of it has to do with the multitasking mindset we have pretended to adopt.

  • Janie

    Christine, This was so on-target! I’ll admit to the world that I fell into #2 when I participated in you e-seminar. I was ready to have my original intent as the “don’t do this” example. Oh, that made me laugh 🙂

    Over the course of the seminar, I simplified my intent to “I intend to be happy, healthy and prosperous.” Now, a few months later, I AM happy, in better health and just landed a new job w better work/life balance and earning potential. I still come across stumbling blocks on occasion, but now know that I am growing from working through them; that makes them much more managable.

    This work is not always easy (or convenient), but it really is worthwhile. As always, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • GiGi

    Great post Christine! The power of language and thought is awesome. Colin, the Universe is perfect and does say “Yes”, and everyone CAN be happy, healthy, and rich. The Universe has enough of everything for everyone but everyone doesn’t intend to BE HAPPY, BE HEALTHY, or BE RICH. Most of us focus on what we don’t want and what we fear, which in turn attracts the same. Just like Christine’s post stated, “Remember this: energy flows where attention goes….Focus instead on the things that you DO want.”
    Have a beautiful day!

  • Colin

    Can you explain “the universe always says yes” in more detail, or give me a pointer to a previous post regarding this? Superficially, it would seem that if this were true, then EVERYONE would be happy, healthy and rich. Obviously, you don’t mean that, and if I’m wondering, another reader may be too. Thanks!

  • Mark

    Thanks Christine. I particularly like the Attention Splatter part. Focused attention has power, no doubt.
    Thanks for the reminders. You’ve made me want to pull out Wayne Dyer’s “Power of Intention”.

    This was a nice way to start the day. Thanks.