I have been following Laurie Buchanan’s Tuesdays with Laurie blog for some time now and consistently revel in the insights she shares and conversations she generates in the comments sections of her posts. Laurie is a renowned blogger, author, and life coach so when she recently shared about a podcast she had done, I immediately went to listen to it. I was struck in particular by her words about the differences between intention and attention. When I asked her to guest post on this subject to flesh out the points more, she kindly agreed. Below is Laurie’s inspirational guest blog post.
Intention vs. Attention – Guest Post by Laurie Buchanan, PhD
What has your intention, and what has your attention? It’s really important to know the answer to these questions, but first, let’s clarify the difference:
Intention is passive and comes from the emotional/feeling part of the brain. It’s a desire and a goal. It’s something we’re focused on, something we want to make happen, something that we aspire to do. It remains invisible until it comes into being.
In her book Pocketful of Miracles: Prayers, Meditations, and Affirmations to Nurture Your Spirit Every Day of the Year, Joan Borysenko said, “Intention provides the energy that motivates our continuing efforts.”
Attention is active and comes from the mental/thinking part of the brain. It’s the visible tasks, processes, and individual action steps we must take in order to achieve our intention. These visible action steps have the power to inspire others. Let’s use the following scenario as an example:
- Your intention (invisible dream) is to take an extended vacation to Provence, France.
- Your attention (visible action steps) then must be focused on saving money for the trip; getting a passport; gathering weather-appropriate clothing; obtaining suitcases; reserving lodging, meals, and ground transportation; establishing an agenda; and making arrangements to take time off from work.
There are some people who never realize their intention. Why? Because their attention was not in line with their intention, it was elsewhere. It could be that they allowed external factors to interfere with their attention. Some of those factors are in their control, while others are outside their control.
Let’s use the Provence, France, example. Events that are within your control but derail you from the necessary action steps to achieve your intention could include:
- Making poor financial decisions.
- Agreeing to the influence of someone else who has a “better” plan for you (e.g., parents who want you to go back to school; a love interest who doesn’t want you to go).
- Procrastination—you simply put it off.
Events that are outside of your control and derail you include:
- Not saving enough money because you had to unexpectedly replace your vehicle after it was totaled in an accident and had to pay subsequent medical bills.
- Getting laid off from work.
- Suddenly finding yourself in a long-term-caregiving position for a loved one.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
Have you intended to take voice, dance, or piano lessons?
Have you had a burning desire to learn to fly or scuba dive?
Have you always yearned to take a hot-air-balloon ride or intended to travel?
Have you meant to learn another language or take a pottery class?
When our intention and our attention are in sync with each other, we meet with success.
About Laurie Buchanan
A cross between Dr. Dolittle, Nanny McPhee, and a Type-A Buddhist, Laurie Buchanan is an active listener, observer of details, payer of attention, reader and writer of books, kindness enthusiast, and unabashed optimist. She’s also board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, a holistic health practitioner, transformational life coach, speaker, and author. Her second book, The Business of Being: Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace, hits the shelves of bookstores near you on July 10.