by Becky Herndon
Setting intent is a way of connecting a goal in the future with motivation in the present. Intent directs energy and attention towards the future. It is a filter for experience, causing the subconscious to work towards the goal. The focus of the intent could be anything from achieving a goal to having a great day.
Setting an intent changes the way a person relates to time. The word “intent” is from the Latin for “to stretch out.” A well set intent does exactly that. An intent unifies the time between the present and the goal by stretching a connection across the relevant time.
When a person knowingly sets intent — by saying a phrase like, “My intention is to _________,” — they are affecting their connection with the future. They send their attention and purpose forward in time from the present moment to the time of the goal. This creates changes in behavior, mood, awareness, and motivation.
The words you use for setting an intent cause different results. The words are a message to the unconscious mind. It responds better to simple language than to long words and sentences. Let’s try an example: Imagine you’re attending a class or seminar and you want to get the most out of it. Try saying these intents:
* I intend for today to be a good learning day.
* My intention is to be a good learner today.
* I intend that I learn today.
* I intend to be a good learner today.
* I intend to learn.
Which one had the strongest impact for you? For most people direct language will create more connection. The goal is to make a clear idea, so the subconscious knows what is needed.
Intent can be found across the range of human experience, from shamanism to law. The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the meaning as “the state of mind with which an act is done.” Tim Hallbom, NLP Trainer, personal coach, and author, likes to say that a goal is something in the future, and an intent is something in the present.
Methods for Setting Intent
Intent is closely related to time. You need to visualize a timeline for these methods to work. It’s ok if you don’t know how to see a timeline; there is a step-by-step technique below. Each person perceives time a little differently. Try using linear time for setting intent. NLP Practitioners can use their favorite timeline.
Decide on the time frame, location, and activities when you construct your intent. Think of a mood or goal, and come up with a simple word or phrase to describe it. Here are some sample intents: Have fun, pay attention, connect with people, win, explore, be caring, attract wealth, be healthy, learn.
Setting intent is a tool. You can set intents before important meetings, or as part of everyday life. It’s up to you whether you want to set an intent for a specific event, or set intent to carry through your whole future.
1. See a timeline.
2. Imagine the future as a line connected to your body. Think of an ordinary thing you will do tomorrow, next week, and next year (brush teeth, drink water) and notice where they are on your future line.
3. Imagine your past as a different line connected to your body. Remember ordinary daily events from yesterday, last week, and last year (breakfast, driving) and locate them on the past line.
4. Notice in your body how the line of the past and the line of the future meet, with your body as the present moment. This visual representation is a timeline.
Setting intent for an event (or specific period of time)
1. Think of an event or period of time when you want to have an intent.
2. Position the event on your future timeline.
3. Lift the section of time for the event off the timeline and change or reshape it into container. (vase, bucket, trough, bowl, …)
4. Speak your intent. Imagine the intent flowing from you into the container.
5. Fill the container with your intent. Feel free to add special effects, like sounds, colors, or sparkles.
6. When the container is full, lower it into the timeline. Transform and reshape it back into a line.
7. Visualize the intent flowing back into the present moment. Feel the intent and see a connection between the present and the event.
8. Change your posture (sit up, get up, walk around) and move on to other things.
Setting intent for the future (continuous, no end)
1. Think of an intent you would like to have with you all the time. Picture your future timeline. Notice how it goes from your body into the future.
2. Lift a copy of your entire future off the timeline and change or re-shape it into container (vase, bucket, trough, bowl, etc.).
3. Speak your intent. Imagine the intent flowing from you into the container. Fill the container with your intent. Feel free to add special effects, like sounds, colors, or sparkles.
4. When the container is full, lower it into the timeline. Transform and reshape it back into a line.
5. Visualize the intent flowing back into the present moment. Feel the intent and see a connection between the present and the event.
6. Change your posture (sit up, get up, walk around) and move on to other things.