How to understand your own intentions

 in·ten·tion [in-ten-shuhn] noun. An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.

Intention, we must understand, then, occurs in the mind, wherein reside our will, emotions, and intellect. To master our intentions, you must then gain a better understanding of your own intentions.

First, think of something you did (or didn’t do), or something you said (or didn’t say). If you find this first step a bit tricky, try to remember a specific action or decision of yours which included one or more of the following:

  • Being “good,” or “nice”

  • Telling someone “No.”

  • Agreeing to do something that was asked of you.

  • Using force.

  • Telling a joke, or bring funny.

  • Giving someone “feedback” or criticism.

  • Expressing your disapproval or annoyance.

Now, on paper, describe what you said or did, and the intention you had at that time. Then, think of whether you may have had other intentions and write those down. As J.P. Morgan was fond of saying, people usually have two reasons for what they do: the real reason, and one that sounds good.

Were any of your intentions different from the one that “sounds good?” When you realized one of your intentions, did you want to change it or your action? Did you start “justifying” what you said or did? Write down any thoughts that come to mind while you consider this. As one wise man once said, if you have to justify something, you probably shouldn’t have done it. While that’s not a universally applicable maxim, as some situations and actions are justifiable, it’s a good rule of thumb to use when reviewing your intentions and your decision-making process.

Particularly for those of you who are stuck in your vision, or even frustrated with what seems to be an inability to get to that next level, this exercise will help you to get a better understanding of the decisions you’ve made up to this point. I would recommend using this method to review the major decisions you’ve made in the last year at the very least.

-from The Million Dollar Hustle, by Sam Medina