Bright and early one morning, I was setting up for a presentation with my colleagues at work when all of a sudden the event caterer approached me and said, “Excuse me, I just wanted you to know that I noticed you are a very happy person.” Pleasantly surprised and needing a few seconds to mentally process his comment, I gratefully thanked him, after which we quickly resorted to humour, “Or maybe it’s the caffeine forcefully kicking in this early on in the morning!” And with that and a chuckle, we each set on our way.

That moment of interaction prompted me to stop in my tracks and reflect on the power and impact of our intentions, both on ourselves and on those around us. Astonished, I looked back at the irony of that very morning when upon hearing the sound of my alarm the first thoughts I had were, “No way… are you kidding me right now?! Is it already time to get up?!”… I had had an unsettled sleep that night and was certainly not ready to begin a brand new day!… But knowing there was no rhyme or reason to these thoughts – or knowing it was absolutely the wrong time for them – I decided to shake off my self-pity and grogginess to make room, with intention, for some positive and rational thinking. I knew what was needed to be done, and that was to get up, dress up, and show up… cognitively, emotionally, and socially. If everyone else was going to make the effort to be there, the least I could do was honour their time and contribute to a worthwhile and productive day.

And so, my conscious choice to pull myself together that morning before work reminded me of Gary Zukav’s chapter on “Intentions” in his book, The Seat of the Soul. In it he states, “You create your reality with your intentions.” Despite not feeling my best, I had decided to make sure it was going to be a worthwhile day for all and, without even noticing, started setting up for the presentation that morning in an upbeat, cheerful manner, resulting in the caterer’s comment!… Though, in retrospect and in all honesty, I give huge credit to my divine dark roast coffee too!

Now, as we begin a brand new year, there is no better time than the present moment to become conscious, or become more conscious, of our intentions towards ourselves and each other. We all have intentions – every moment of every day – but to what extent are we consciously aware of them? To what extent do we realize how significantly our intentions shape our lives and the lives of others?

Perhaps an immediate intention we have is, “I intend to be a more active listener with my family today” or “I intend to create a more supportive and nurturing environment with colleagues at work this week.” Or maybe our intention is broader such as, “I intend to be courageous and a risk taker, secure and confident in who I am” or “I intend to deepen and strengthen my loving relationship with God.” The beauty of an intention is that we can set it to whatever we want it to be, anytime, anywhere; in our relationships, physical body, spiritual being, mental and emotional state, creativity… the list goes on and on.

When we begin to understand what an intention is, what it does, and the influence it has on us and on others, then we begin to see how important and impactful our intentions really are. Once we realize that what we project into the world comes directly through our intentions (every thought, word, action, encounter,…), then perhaps it is worth pausing and questioning what our intentions really are at any given moment in time.

Zukav, in his book, explains that our intentions are more than just a wish or a desire – that they are the use of our will. We are “decision-making beings and continual creators.” What we create depends on the decisions we make. The decisions we make depend on our intentions. Therefore, as we create with our intentions, we create the world around us. And taking it a step further, our intentions are continuously interacting with the intentions of others.

When we are unaware of our intentions and unconscious of them, then the strongest intention will win. It will step forward and shape our reality and experiences. Rather, when we become conscious of our intentions, we are able to choose which ones we want to set for ourselves. Therefore, what we feel, what we think, how we behave, what we value, and how we live our lives are all reflections of our intentions.

Are our intentions always under control? Sometimes, or often, they are not. We can fall victim to a state of jealousy, anger, fear, and so on. However, through intention, we can also challenge these negative thoughts and patterns, such as resentment and impatience, by consciously choosing to replace them with compassion and understanding. Eventually, this creates different forms of thought, feelings, and actions, and ultimately changes our lived experiences.

As our intentions are reflected in our experiences, they are also reflected in our changed experiences. For example, if you know that some aspect of your life needs to be taken care of right now, but unconsciously you really have no intention to attend to it, then this will create a restlessness in you that will remain until you do what you know needs to be done. Simply put, say you consciously intend to organize your cluttered basement, but unconsciously what you really intend to do is postpone the chore for as long as you possibly can. If the unconscious intention is stronger, then it will definitely win, which means that your basement will sit in its glorious mess for at least a few more months while a restless field in your being simmers.

Does all this mean we have full control of every aspect of our lives simply through our intentions? Of course not, as many aspects of our lives are unexplainable, beyond what we can comprehend. This is because our lives are part of a greater universal plan which we can only begin to understand through faith, through God, our creator. Yet,  He did not give us the spirit of timidity, but rather that of love, power, good judgement and control.

So, in welcoming the new year, the next time you’re about to speak or act, I encourage you to question and recognize what your intentions for yourself and for those around you really are.

As you work to live more consciously through your intentions, I invite you to take on this challenge:

Pick an intention that you feel you need most in your life.

For the next thirty days set this intention each morning.

Each night review your day and notice when you chose it with your words and actions and when you did not.

What happened when you chose it?

What happened when you did not?

(Adapted from The Mind of the Soul by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis)

To help track your progress, transformation, evolving consciousness, or lack thereof (as there will be bumps along the way, I guarantee it!) I invite you to reflect on these intentions and how they are playing out. You can reflect through a journal, a blog, conversations with a trusted friend… it’s your choice!

And keep in mind, as Wayne Dyer always said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”