Just a few weeks ago I was asked to lead a retreat for a group of Central American executives who were meeting in Cartagena, Colombia. This invitation was notable for two reasons. First, although I love these regions, Central and South America aren’t markets I work in very often. Second, I really want to visit Columbia–I have been thinking and talking about this for the past few years. The combination of an unlikely event and a vision (aka intention) for the future is not unusual for me.

Here’s another example. This summer, while backpacking in Yosemite National Park with my family, I really wanted to see a bear. Bear sightings had been on the decline for years due to park ranger rules and education such as the requirement for backpackers to use bear canisters to store food and the many warning signs about fines for improper food storage in campgrounds. Yet, sure enough, there I am opening my tent flap at 1:30 in the morning and seeing an 800 pound bear twenty feet away. The next morning, my wife said, “Stop thinking about and saying you want to see a bear; or say you want to see one from at least a few hundred yards away!”

Whether it has to do with money, career, speaking engagements, or relationships, my ability to manifest what I want is confirmed all the time. So much so that I take my intentions and my thinking seriously. I notice that when I don’t have a vision for my day I fall into old thinking and behavior patterns that often don’t serve me well. In the absence of a conscious vision, unconscious ones take over and fear-based or limiting thoughts shape my day.

Take my weekend visions or example. I like my weekends less scheduled and a lot slower then my weekdays. I also want a few quality connections with my family on the weekends because I don’t get a lot of this during the week. If I don’t hold a clear intention and start my Saturdays and Sundays visualizing my day my weekends are less fulfilling. Not only do I need to have a clear intention, I need to share it with my family. If I don’t hold and express my intention, the weekend flies by, everyone goes in their separate direction, and I am in a funk by Sunday night saying to myself, “Where did all that time go?”

I think our intentions are powerful but don’t take my word for it. Start looking at events and trace their roots back to what has been on your mind. I think you’ll find a direct connection.

Intentions help manifest your future because they encompasses three things: clarity, commitment, and faith. Intentions draw your attention to the clear and specific outcomes you seek. Your physical, emotional and mental energy then follows your mind’s attention. Your commitment to anything will attract supporting resources – this has a metaphysical or spiritual component to it that Goethe wrote about. Faith that your intention is powerful (and you may have to do a little-fake-it-til-you-make-it trials at first until you  believe this process works) removes skeptical or cynical thinking that can sabotage your vision.

What are your intentions for 2012? What kind of year is going to be? As you do your planning for the year, be specific. What do you want in all four quadrants? Meaning, what do you want to accomplish, what do you want to learn, what relationships do you want to invest in, what kind of man or woman do you want to be? Creating categories for your desired accomplishments will help jog your thinking about what you want to change in the year ahead. Examples of categories include vocational, financial, health, and service. You can use this process for various aspects of your business and leadership.

If you want to put your intentions on steroids, here are four steps that will make your vision for 2012 a reality:

  1. Commit your intentions to writing.
  2. Visualize yourself having realized your intentions. Like an athlete preparing for a event, picture, hear and feel in your body what it’s like to experience what you want – make the intention for the future a present-tense experience.
  3. Share your intentions with others (this is a great New Year Day’s tradition to have with your family–or to do at your first staff meeting in 2012).
  4. Have faith. This means catching yourself in the act of thinking about what could go wrong, how everything is random, why your intention isn’t going to happen, or the downside risks if you actually get what you say you want.

Blessings on your intention-setting process and on a powerful 2012!