Simply stated, an intention is any idea that you want to make happen. For instance, let’s say that I’ve never run a marathon, but I would like to run and finish one in the near future.  

How can I, and all of us, realize our intentions no matter what they are? How can we make our ideas happen? First, we must acknowledge that it will take courage to venture out of our comfort zones because out of our comfort zones is where we’ll always be every time we try something new or attempt something difficult. Courage is what we must summon so we can take on our goals and persevere through adversity that will most certainly occur along the way. As Brené Brown writes in her latest book, Rising Strong: “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Next, we need to develop a strategy of incremental steps that ultimately lead to making our ideas happen, and then we must work hard to carry out that strategy. There is good news here. Much of the value of having intentions comes from learning new skills and experiencing positive changes in yourself along the way as you strive to make your ideas happen. To keep yourself encouraged, celebrate each of the new skills or each positive change by rewarding yourself when you meet a benchmark. Go out to dinner or buy some new clothes or whatever is a reward for you.

"There are two opposing ways to approach an important goal or deadline. You can start early and small or start late and big." - Greg McKeown

And finally, and most importantly, all through your endeavor you must visualize yourself making your idea happen. You must harness the power of your mind before you can harness the power of your body.

So, putting this all together, if my intention is to run a marathon, I must first summon my courage. I will need this courage because, not having run a marathon before, I will be operating outside of my comfort zone. My next step is to develop a running program, which includes weekly long runs that increase in distance. Finally, I must follow my program and run those required miles. To keep myself encouraged, I will reward myself each time I complete a longer weekly run. And with each step, with each success and temporary setback, I need to continuously visualize myself crossing the finish line.

Making your ideas happen requires both positive thinking and active living. Embrace the journey.


Jeff Strausser’s short stories have been published in various literary journals and he has contributed articles to various magazines. In addition, he has written four textbooks for Barron’s Educational Series. Jeff’s stage plays have been performed by high school and community theatre groups throughout the United States and England. Visit his website here.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Intention.

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Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.