The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We've all heard it, and have agreed. My take on this cliché is that everyone has good intentions, and some are going to take the wrong road for various reasons. The intent/failure relationship has been summed up as a concept in that well-known saying, and by scientists like Frank Wieber, J. Lukas Thürmer, and Peter M. Gollwitzer who acknowledge the existence of a gap between strong intentions and actual behavior such that even strong goal intentions do not ensure successful goal attainment." http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00395/full
In this study, Wieber, et.al. examine what happens in the brain when intent is expressed, and the correlating likelihood of following through to fruition. This study reinforces the "road to hell" phenomenon. Although patterns of real outcomes can highlight what is wrong with our failed attempts, it does not teach us to move forward to success. Meriam-Webster supplies us with some definitions of intention that omit the commonly expected outcome of failure.
1. A determination to act in a certain way: resolve
3. a: What one intends to do or bring about b: the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered
4. concept; especially: a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge
What if we took that definition and looked at it from a different perspective?
In Psychology Today, Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D. states, "As a psychologist who studies how people create their futures, one of the things I’ve learned is that having an expectation that differs from what you want isn’t just the reason you don’t buy lottery tickets. It is the reason there are lots of things you want, but you can’t quite seem to attain them—losing that last five to 10 pounds, going for that dream job or relationship. It is the number one reason you stay stuck in life, because:
Expectation + Action = Creation of your life experiences."
According to Dr. Vilhauer, handling expectation could be the secret sauce or fatal cool aid that most directly affects your outcome. Carefully examining our beliefs in circumstances, our possible outcomes, and ourselves could be the secret sauce that combines intention and actions to produce success as an outcome. Dr. Vilhauer has observed that allowing unsuccessful patterns to become the logic we use to expect outcomes can contribute to the very opposite of our hopes - it can produce our fears.
Changing our expectations can take as much courage as facing our strongest adversary, or happen accidentally when you have a friendly encounter that exceeds your expectations. In either case, there is a change in beliefs that can give your intentions the fuel for a chance at life. Whether by will, power, or willpower, these changes are the hope that is required while practicing the determination mentioned in Webster's above definition.
This brings to mind another common comment I've heard that follows failed intentions. "If at first you don't succeed, try, and try again." Each failure in your journey of intent can be renamed and revalued as a lesson to perfect your goal. If heeded, your lessons of failure can make your creation stronger, and give you the awareness that success requires. When we have truly focused our attention on our goal, and our actions support our commitment, setbacks are always temporary. The journey does not end until your expectations are met!
What expectations have determined your success or failure in your experiences? In the following weeks, Pagan Realms will publish a series on the subject of the power of intent. Join the conversation or follow along at http://bellisanasblog.blogspot.com This is going to be a very interesting discussion!
Wieber, F., Thürmer, J. L., and Gollwitzer, P. M. (2012). Collective action control by goals and plans: applying a self-regulation perspective to group performance. Am. J. Psychol.125, 275–290.