Setting Intentions: #19 of 28 Big Ideas from the World of Coaching


Photo by Ev, from Unsplash.

This article is twentieth in a multi-part series that adapts and excerpts my entire book, The Coach Within: 28 Big Ideas for Engaging the Power of Your Own Wisdom, Creativity, and Choices* (Everything Goes Media, 2017).

19. Setting Intentions

“Our intention creates our reality.”

— Wayne Dyer


“Setting your intention is like drawing an arrow from the quiver of your heart.”

— Bruce Black

In casual parlance, intending to do something is very iffy. It has an I’d like to…but quality. There’s a maybe I’ll get around to it implied. Let’s call this — at best — having an intention. In coaching, we set intentions and it’s serious business.

The intention a client sets is something she means to bring about, something important. She sets the destination and heads off in that direction.

What sort of intention can you set?

  • It can be specific, like a goal (I intend to clean out and organize my garage by the end of April) or broad, as a new attitude or mindset might be (I intend to only speak positively of my friends…or keep my mouth shut).

  • It can be little (I intend to bring my new neighbor a plant) or big (I intend to save enough money so that I can retire at age 55).

  • It can be short-term (I intend to show up at that dinner party on time) or long-term (I intend to volunteer in more meaningful ways so that I know I’m making a difference).

Do you recall in the idealizing section (big 16), how you could idealize before any situation to improve upon its outcome? Setting intentions can work the same way:

  • Before getting out of bed in the morning: I intend not to rush today. I intend to slow down, stay centered, and take one thing at a time.

  • Upon arriving at work: I intend to work from a prioritized list today and keep interruptions to a minimum.

  • Before stepping in your home at the end of the day: I intend to leave my work at the office and enjoy my family’s company. I intend to keep my cool if my kids are acting up.

  • Before bed: I intend to get a good night’s rest and wake up refreshed.

Like idealizing, intentions don’t guarantee outcomes, but they go a long way to guiding better results into existence. In this lesson’s homework, you’ll work through a very step-by-step process for setting your key intentions.

Your Coaching To-Do’s

⎕ To understand how multifaceted this concept is, and feel the full gravity of setting a critical intention, work through this list two or three times (using your journal and silent reflection as needed) to set intentions.

  • Idealize (big idea 16). What is it that you most want? What is your ideal outcome?

  • Cultivate. Nourish your budding intention. Give it love and attention. What kind of support does it need?

  • Create. Apply creativity (big idea 2) to bring your intention more fully to life.

  • Focus. Clarify your intention with positive, specific language.

  • Decide. Formally set your choice as an intention. (Picture a setting Jell-O mold.)

  • Commit. Solidify your choice by committing to it. (Now picture concrete setting.)

  • Be not do (big idea 14). Be with your intention first. Let inspiration from that place dictate your doing.

  • Do something. Inspired by your intention, take an immediate step that demonstrates your commitment to it.

  • Hold yourself accountable. Big idea 9 has lots of ways to do that.

  • Write your intention down and post it in a place you’ll see it often.

  • Let belief in your intention allow you to detach from it.

*affiliate link