Marilyn Atkinson is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has authored eight books, including The Art & Science of Coaching trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
Aligning Intention and Attention to Achieve Your Dream Life
In the personal development world today, there seems to be two major camps – the goal setting or 'intention' camp, and the presence or 'attention' camp. A balance between the two basic kinds of awareness – intention and attention – is at the heart of human development. So how do you integrate the two?
Intention and attention are like the hands you use to play the accordion of life. You can become skilled at playing with both qualities of awareness at the same time. Such an approach allows you to resonate with your own music, develop your inner rhythm, and orchestrate your own inner systems that create long-term life satisfaction and results. When your intention and attention are alive at the same time, you become completely aligned and have full integrity. Such integrity and alignment create a strong flow state, or what some people call "the zone".
Before aligning attention and intention, we must first understand these two key dimensions of consciousness.
Attention is something that you "attend to" in the moment. When you pay attention, you experience the depth of perception. You can see, hear, and feel the world fully. You can taste and sense your inner life of value and vision with the same clarity.
Take a moment to think of a special moment of exquisite presence, that is, a moment when you genuinely paid attention to something beautiful or profound and were completely enveloped within the moment. You perhaps felt a surge of gratitude. Or remember a moment that seemed effortless, when you were in the midst of creating, or when you participated in an activity that seemed timeless.
For example, you may have had a moment where you were taken in by the awesomeness of the universe – maybe you experienced your first kiss, saw a beautiful sunset on the ocean, or held a newborn baby. As you think of this moment of exquisite presence, enjoy all the feelings of being fully alive as you think back and pay attention to experiencing these feelings in your body now. Notice the deep awareness and meaning of what you are connected to right now. Again, gratitude emerges. How do you enjoy this state? Ask yourself: “How might I access this state more often? What value might this have for me and my life?”
Intention is the dimension that moves you from where you are to where you want to be. It is something you actively decide on for your future. A powerful intention is a decision to be, to do, or to have something that is most important to you. It provides the energy for accomplishing your goals. When the fire within is strong and bright, it lights the path of your life's direction, and you naturally develop your capabilities further. Without a clear intention, your mind can be easily swayed by the business of life, the distraction of multiple possible futures and by different people agendas. Your emotions can bounce you around. Can you relate to this?
Consider that if you want a focused life, setting a powerful intention is the difference that makes the difference. A definite intention becomes set when you say something like the following: "Of course I will accomplish ______ by________. I just need to find out how!" Knowing the value behind your aim provides a motivational force to do it.
Aligning Intention and Attention
When you passionately declare your intention, the strength of your “intentional frame of mind” moves you effectively and purposefully into action to get what you want. When you have a big enough ‘why’ to direct your life towards what is important to you, then organizing your everyday attention is easy.
When you fully appreciate the moment ‘now’ and visualize yourself already having the outcome often, you will be inspired and will easily pay attention in the day-to-day activities that will get you to where you want to go. You will naturally set goals and put strategies, tasks, and action plans into play. You will naturally do what it takes to get the support you need and you will connect to your own ability to remain emotionally balanced and outcome-driven until completion. If you model great athletes and other peak performers in the world, you will find yourself holding a long-term game and then focusing on this step-by-step approach.
When you build the habit to put attention and intention together mindfully, you are practically unstoppable in creating the joy, success, freedom and fulfilment you want! Deep gratitude for being alive becomes your natural state. You can live deeply through the moments of each day, knowing that your future is calling you forth. You can be fully present now with your clear goals and aims, becoming your own wisdom guide.
How? Clearly set sail on the sea of mindfulness. Engage a value-based self-image in the morning, seeing yourself powerfully connected to this double capacity. See yourself going through your day with inner presence yet aligned to your purposeful aims. Discover the result! Test it out in your own life!
Interested in learning to align your intention and attention? Learn more about Erickson's The Art & Science of Mindfulness program.