Intentions in Life
(Vinod Anand)

Much is said and written about how important intention is to our lives, but there is a whole lot of confusion around that word. A working definition of intention is: ‘to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim’, making it seem much the same as a goal.

But a closer look will show us differences between the two. Goals define a place to get to the destination. The focus is always the future: Am I going to reach this goal? Will I be happy when I do? What comes next?

There is less concern with what is happening to you in the present moment. With setting intention, however, your attention is on the ever-present ‘now,’ more than being oriented toward a future outcome.

This is a path or practice that requires you to remain aware of the unfolding each present moment. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you, and then you make a commitment to align, on an ongoing basis, your decisions and actions with your intentions do shape and colour your goals -- their progress, their stages of unfolding, as well as choices you then make or don’t make in the achievement of them, and so clarity of intention is a first step.

One can want to become a doctor to heal people, or because one sees it as a profession that is respected and held in high esteem, or even because one simply want to make loads of money. Attitudes and actions will vary for each of these. Some intentions can be specific and about something in particular -- to follow some creative pursuit; to switch to a new career; to get healthy and physically fit; to spend more quality time with loved ones; to enjoy time alone. Or they may be more general -- to be more calm, more active, more involved with life.

There are many ways to get to any of these, so short or long-term goals in support of these intentions can then follow. Often, just a few of our intentions are conscious and purposeful; others are more shadowy or altogether hidden even from our conscious selves. In addition, we all have multiple intentions which may either support or oppose each other.

Some of these have more power than others, and it is better to be able to consider and choose which ones these are. What then makes ‘good’ intentions good or ‘bad’ intentions bad? The Buddha’s simple yet profound teachings on this are a helpful guiding principle:

Intentions are good if they lead to good results for self and others, and bad if they lead to bad results. The Buddha tells his seven-year-old son Rahula that knowing how to act in life is actually simple: before you do something, consider if it will lead to benefit or harm; if it will be beneficial, go ahead. “Then, while you go on doing things, keep on considering if they are beneficial or not”.

Many people are surprised that when they take time to sort out and declare their intentions, help and support seem to appear almost magically. But this is no supernormal phenomenon; the magic simply is that by setting an intention, you make it clear to yourself and others just what you plan to do. You become more sensitive; you notice things and opportunities you otherwise might have overlooked; you listen to what people are saying or teaching; you open yourself to help and inspiration.

Author's Bio: 


Born in 1939, and holding Master’s Degree both in Mathematics (1959) and Economics (1961), and Doctorate Degree in Economics (1970), Dr. Vinod K.Anand has about forty five years of teaching, research, and project work experience in Economic Theory (both micro and macro), Quantitative Economics, Public Economics, New Political Economy, and Development Economics with a special focus on economic and social provisions revolving around poverty, inequality, and unemployment issues, and also on informal sector studies. His last assignment was at the National University of Lesotho (Southern Africa) from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that he was placed as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at the University of North-West in the Republic of South Africa, and University of Allahabad in India, Professor at the National University of Lesotho, Associate Professor at the University of Botswana, Gaborone in Botswana, and at Gezira University in Wad Medani, Sudan, Head, Department of Arts and Social Sciences, Yola in Nigeria, Principal Lecturer in Economics at Maiduguri University in Nigeria, and as Lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Nigeria. Professor Anand has by now published more than 80 research papers in standard academic journals, authored 11 books, supervised a number of doctoral theses, was examiner for more than twenty Ph.D. theses, and has wide consultancy experience both in India and abroad, essentially in the African continent. This includes holding the position of Primary Researcher, Principal Consultant etc. in a number of Research Projects sponsored and funded by Universities, Governments, and International Bodies like, USAID, IDRC, and AERC. His publications include a variety of themes revolving around Economic Theory, New Political Economy, Quantitative Economics, Development Economics, and Informal Sector Studies. His consultancy assignments in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa include Non-Directory Enterprises in Allahabad, India, Small Scale Enterprises in the Northern States of Nigeria, The Absolute Poverty Line in Sudan, The Small Scale Enterprises in Wad Medani, Sudan, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Botswana, The Place of Non-Formal Micro-Enterprises in Botswana, Resettlement of a Squatter Community in the Vryburg District of North West Province in the Republic of South Africa, Trade and Investment Development Programme for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises: Support for NTSIKA in the Republic of South Africa, and Development of the Manufacturing Sector in the Republic of South Africa’s North West Province: An Approach Based on Firm Level Surveys. Professor Anand has also extensively participated in a number of conferences, offered many seminars, participated in a number of workshops, and delivered a variety of Refresher Lectures at different venues both in India and abroad. Dr. Anand was placed at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla in the State Himachal Pradesh, India as a Fellow from 2001 to 2003, and had completed a theoretical and qualitative research project/monograph on the Employment Profile of Micro Enterprises in the State of Himachal Pradseh, India.