Updated: Feb 1
Here is a blank Intention Wheel template that you can download and use to fill in the different longer-term intentions that you are wanting to focus on. This is particularly useful, if you like to work visually. I tend to fill this in at the beginning of a new year, and then display it above my writing desk, so that I have a constant reminder to stay true to my own talents and aspirations, rather than getting sidetracked by other demands on my time.
If you would like support with the full Intention Setting process, you can download a 10-day guided course here.
The Intention Wheel
This Intention Wheel provides a method to focus your mind, and then channel that energy and commitment into action. This requires diligence - a sense of joyful effort. This is the way to ensure that your dreams and desires don’t simply remain as imagined future events, but actually manifest. It can feel like hard work, but you can trust that it is worthwhile. Our intentions are not always something that brings us immediate joy; rather they are something we are prepared to commit to, even when the going gets tough. Anything worth doing, is worth overcoming obstacles for.
Choose your Six Priority Areas
First choose six key areas of your life and label them in the smallest pie pieces at the centre of the wheel. These could be different projects, or aspects of your life needed to create balance (spiritual, work, family, community, fitness etc). These are your medium or long-term intentions, and once you have selected them, you can experiment with reverse engineering.
Take some time to make sure that your intentions are worded clearly, using the present tense. Ensure that the phrases are positive, rather than include words such as not or don’t. You will need to find the balance between being clear and specific, while being flexible enough to adapt to unexpected detours on your journey. Just like sailing to a chosen port, we need to be clear on where we are heading, but we will also have to navigate depending on the tides and the winds. A dead end, or a detour is sometimes a hidden blessing, which leads you in a new direction.
Intentions are more likely to manifest if you can connect with the process steps that you need to get there, rather than fixating on the outcome itself. We will follow a process to break our intention down into manageable steps. There is a lovely African proverb that talks about, “Eating the elephant one mouthful at a time”.
Identify Your Strengths
Now identify the strengths you already have related to each of your priority areas. Remember when you were in a similar situation in the past or wanted to accomplish a similar project. What qualities do you have, or techniques you used to succeed? If you find this part difficult, it can sometimes help to discuss these with a friend or partner and let them remind you of your positive qualities. When I wanted to write the book, 'The Compassionate Activist', it was helpful to remind myself that I had written textbooks and academic papers before. Although they were not quite the same, the strengths of persistence and regular sitting down to write reminded me that I had the capacity to complete the project.
Taking the First Step
Next identify a first step that you need to take to achieve your heartfelt aspiration. It’s useful to write down something that you could do immediately after completing the Wheel, so that you feel a sense of momentum. This could be a phone call to someone, an online search or the purchase of a particular item… We can trust that each step we take will guide us to the next step – like stepping stones crossing a pond. At certain times, we may not be able to see the next stone, if it is underwater, but once the level of the river drops, the next step reveals itself…
Next, consider potential barriers or obstacles and allow yourself to be prepared for them. You can use the phrase: "If… then…" ie. If this situation arises, then I’ll do this… Of course, the difficulty may never arise, but at least you have a sense of what you might do, if it does, so that fear does not need to prevent you from keeping committed to your intention.
Now look at further actions required - the full path towards your intended outcome. List them in as much detail as you can, thinking both about what you need to do, and who you might need to approach for assistance. Remember that many people love to help, so make sure you give them the chance to contribute to your success.
Set realistic time-scales for achievement so that your intention energises you to action, rather than leaving you feeling overwhelmed and short of time.
Repeat this process for all six priority areas of your life. That is usually enough to focus on in one year. We need to find a way of keeping our long term, or vast vision in mind, knowing that we might not even achieve it within our lifetime, while also recognising that this elephant will be eaten one mouthful at a time, through our daily life intentions and actions.