This week’s word is…Intention

The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do

There are words that are essential to the Mothering Conversation. Words that represent qualities and behaviors for us to try on if we are to
evolve the conversation of mothering. Each week on our blog, we feature one of these Words.

Definition of Intention: determination to act in a certain way or bring about some action or result; a deliberate aim or purpose.

14,245 Days. That’s how many days I lived before I got serious. Serious about my life…and about living each day with intention; what I refer to as Life by Design, rather than Life by Default.

Living life-by-design begins with intentionality. Several months ago, my husband, kids, and I spent an evening creating a collage of all the qualities that we want to be intentional about in our family; the qualities that we want to bring to life in our home and in our relationships with each other. Here’s what our collage looks like:

Our Family Collage

Typically about once a week – usually on the day after a day of negativity, impatience, and mean-spirited words turning every conversation into an argument! – we gather around the collage and we each choose a word. We each choose the quality that we’d like to be mindful of and intentional about bringing to life in our family through our thoughts, words, & behavior.

Sounds nice, right? So, how does this help with the regular everyday kinds of challenges we face as mothers? Here’s a story of just one instance where being intentional helped me and my daughter:

My daughter, Abigail, had a tough school year in 5th grade. Math, in particular, was almost a daily tear-jerker. Abigail would lie in bed at night and tell me that she was worried about a particular class, a particular teacher, or afraid she would forget all the state capitals she’d just named earlier in the evening. Knowing what was happening in her heart and in her mind, I wanted for her to have more self-confidence; a stronger belief in herself and her capabilities. I also saw an opportunity for our home environment to be a place where we could provide more affirmation for one another.

So I set intention with myself to bring these qualities to life through my thoughts, words, and actions: self-confidence, belief in oneself, trust in God to help us handle life’s challenges, and support/affirmation for one another.

Each day, I let Abigail know that I believe in her and that I have confidence in her. I let her know this through my words and also by giving her greater responsibility in areas that she enjoys. And I was intentional about affirming her ability to do her best in handling the events of her day. And of course I prayed – a lot!

This awareness and intention setting on my part helped her inner dialogue change from “I can’t,” I’m afraid,” “What if…” to something much more affirming and reassuring: “I can.” “I will.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Ref: Phil 4:13)

That is the power of intention. And an example of what it is like to live by design, rather than be default. Default responses are typically focused on the challenge-of-the-moment (i.e.: getting through tonight’s math homework), and miss the bigger opportunity to move ourselves and others in a desired direction (i.e.: more self-confidence).

In this week’s exercise, we’ll define our “desired direction.” We’ll point our compass in the direction we want ourselves and our families to go. If we’re going to move through our days with more intention, what do we want to be intentional about?

EXERCISE: Intention Setting

  1. Grab your journal or notebook and a pen.
  2. Close your eyes and envision your home environment and family relationships. Spend a moment calling to mind what you love and appreciate about each member of your family. And about the way they interact with and care for one another.
  3. Next, envision what you want even more of in your family and your family relationships. More gratitude? Forgiveness? Joy? Write these down.  *consider also making this into a family activity and brainstorming together the qualities you want to demonstrate more of.
  4. Choose the quality that feels most important or most resonant for today (Mine is gratitude). Set an intention to bring this quality to life through your own thoughts, words, and actions today. Sometimes I like to say my intention as a prayer: “God, please help me to see all the many things, situations, & people that I am grateful for today. Please open my heart and mind and fill me with a deep sense of gratitude.”
  5. Write down your intention or prayer. Repeat it to yourself frequently throughout the day. Watch for moments when circumstances around you are calling for you to lean into your intention and put it into full practice!
  6. At the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on how you did with your intention. What worked well? What got in your way?
  7. Repeat process tomorrow 🙂

Click on the picture below to download a 2″x3″ Intention Card for your mirror, refrigerator, computer monitor, etc.
The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do

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