Unleash the Power of Intention in your Branding.
Part 1 of 3: Who am I?
It’s a common ritual in the practice of yoga.
It’s a simple practice facilitated by nearly every teacher at the start of class.
An intention is often synonymous with aim, plan, or resolve. It is understood to be like a seed, containing within it an idea, an aim and a plan to see its fulfillment. Intention has been translated as the purpose and focused will underlying any action or behavior.
It sounds similar to a goal? Is it the same thing?
Goals and Intentions are similar in their function and effect of transforming something non-visible, like an idea or feeling we want to express, into reality. Both guide our behavior and focus during a process, however they do so in distinct ways.
Let’s take a look.
“The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run. It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.”
Goals focus on future outcomes.
Goals are formed when we project a specific outcome into the future. Goals typically can be thoroughly envisioned, they can be described in detail, they are quantifiable within time and volume. For example, setting a goal of publishing three blog posts in one month, or selling 123 tickets before the event.
A great practice for setting goals is applying the SMART acronym: check in that the goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable (action-oriented), Realistic (relatable), and Time-sensitive.
The value of setting goals is that it helps ground us in the concrete function of business in TIME-SPACE reality. When we have an idea to do something that we haven’t done before, the feeling to move forward can be an inspiring motivation in itself to take action, so goals can help us strategize by breaking down large goals into smaller goals and gaining clarity on the actions we need to take so that we can gain a perspective of the scope the journey before us as we turn our idea into reality. Goals can keep us focused on a specific vision so that we do not get side tracked by other potentials or shiny possibilities. The downside however, can be that they can take us out of the present, focusing on something in the future that hasn’t yet happened and that could change with new insights. This can keep us from being receptive to new information and the wisdom that we integrate along the way, making us rigid in our thinking. It’s important to consider the pros and cons as we balance creating goals with setting intentions, taking action with reflection, and growing our insight… yearly, monthly, through moon cycles, weekly, and daily.
But this article series is about intention. So let’s take a closer look.
“Awakened doing is when you don’t create suffering anymore for others – or for yourself — by your own actions. It also implies that your primary intention, the focus of your attention, is on the ‘doing’ in the present moment, rather than the result you want to achieve through it.”
— Eckhart Tolle
Intentions focus on here and now.
While goals provide structure much like the frame of a car, intentions energize and are like the fuel within our actions and momentum.
Take notice to how every activity we do has an underlying motive within it. We get up and move through the day with some underlying purpose. Businesses run and people relate with them for some unique and collective motivation.
Being attentive to our intention helps us to focus in the moment-to-moment unfolding of our actions, goals and life. They allow us to let go of expectations and really focus in on what we are doing here and now. When we enter this state of allowing, tension lessens, blood pressure drops, and a pleasant sensation enters into our work. Rather than having a specific, measurable or quantifiable outcomes, intentions at best are about a humanitarian, or feeling quality. They guide affect, and are emotional or psychological unfolding of our character, and who we are being or becoming as we realize our goals. They ask us to consider the why and how within our goals, and can bring clarity to the purpose of our actions.
The effect of intention is awareness, and can heighten the quality of our attention and outcomes, by actively energizing what we are being, doing, and creating in life.
For example. If I set an intention to enjoy my work, the outcome is work that is enjoyable.
To take it a step further, if I set an intention to add value to people’s lives through the content I produce. The intended outcome is producing valuable content for my audience and clientele, even though it might mean that I need to talk to people, and do research to become receptive to what is genuinely valuable to my audience. The unfolding of the intention could be that the idea of what I originally wanted to write about might broaden, focus, or shift based on what I discover are actual needs people have that I am able to meet through my skill set, insight, and communications.
Another way of working with intention, is something of a personal purpose-hacking practice where we hold an intention to connect with intention, aka, the meaning for our actions or inspiration. For example, we feel inspired and have a desire and set a goal is to wake up by 5:30 am. We can break it down to see that “I want do this so that I will have time to meditate, exercise, and eat a good breakfast before I go to work, because when I do these things I feel better, I make decisions clearly and effectively, I am more productive, and I am a better boss and co-worker.” In this reverse-approach, if we aren’t already aware of our intentions, we can use intention to develop an understanding of our actions, to notice that what we really want is to have better relationships and productivity at work. In doing this, we can infuse our actions with meaning, and allow purpose to motivate us not hitting snooze when the alarm rings at 5:30am.
So what are the downsides of intention? Nothing!!!
*skips into infinity*
Except the potential of getting swamped in a labyrinth of discovering our intentions and losing sight of our longer term goals. As well, the misinterpretation where we treat an intention like a goal, and getting attached a specific image of what the outcome should look like, for example, “I want to be a yoga teacher and therefore I need to look, act, and behave in this one way.” Or, “I want to be the leader of my own company, therefore I need to abide by this stereotype I’ve imagined of what is required of a leader:”
Is this preconceived image our natural intention? We are social creatures so imitation is a habitual response, but to what extent is our perception of “should” limiting the unique expression of our creative wisdom and natural essence? The role we’re in may be archetypal, but our way of being in and doing it is one in infinity.
Keep in mind and heart that an intention guides us from the inside out. While it might give us a vision and motivation to take action towards what we want, it is also asking us to consider the why and how with receptivity, and has the potential to ask us to shift the image of our initial vision along the way. Stay tuned in to the here and now.
Another perspective is considering the orientation of your intention. Jon Mertz published an article on the “7 Types of Leadership Intention and Impact,” an excellent resource for orienting what kind of intentions one is aligning, and the consideration of our impact on others.
Other outcomes may be a greater trust in ones intuition. A commitment to the impulse of the intention, even when the external form of it may shift or change.
“I intend to allow for the development of my work and service to transform me for the better.”
– Example Intention
So now that you understand what intention is, and how it’s different from traditional goal setting…
Here’s an exercise for you to dip your toes in and deepen awareness of the presence of intention in your life and livelihood.
- What are four intentions motivating your life?
- Why is each intention you’ve expressed meaningful to you?
And for those of you who have an existing brand
- What intentions are fueling your brand?
- Why is each meaningful to you?
To open our perspective to how brands influence us, I have a story for you in part two of this series.
Brand Creation Strategist
Thank you for reading. Continue to part 2 in the 3 part series “Unleash the Power of Intention in your Branding,” here.
©2019 Nectar & Co Creation