What intention is, isn't, and how to set it

change your story philosophy questions research stress May 17, 2022

May 17th, 2022
By: Lauren Lowrey
[Full transcript below]


This week is all about setting intentions. In this episode we cover three important facets of intentions:
-what intentions are
-what intentions are not
-how to set intentions

Lauren also details how to set intentions every day and scale them to cover what you want to focus on for months at a time - or until you've completed what you set out to do.

"Setting intentions is an important lesson in connecting with your values and understanding that doing inner work on yourself can impact your ability to live a life you dream of," says Lauren.

This episode is for you if:
-You need help in understanding the power of intentions
-You've never really understood intentions
-You want examples of Lauren's intentions

2:22 - Intention is not expectation
4:41 - Intention is not assumption
6:31 - So what is intention?
7:17 - The link between intention and purpose
10:27 - Intention is born from what you value
12:56 - Your intention is an arrow

16:48 - How to use intentions every day
20:48 - Lauren’s current seasonal intention


📝 Show Notes & Mentions 📝

Not signed up for AMPstigator emails? Here's how you can get the note sheets and prompts Lauren sent related to this episode:
Email Lauren directly at, [email protected]
Link to Lauren's video, 5 Truths of Purposeful People



Episode 20: Intention
May 17th, 2022
Lauren Lowrey (solo episode)


I'm Lauren Lowrey and this is AMPstigator. 

A podcast all about seeking, finding and living with purpose.

People talk about purpose, but no one tells you how to get there, but that’s what this podcast addresses: HOW TO FIND PURPOSE. 

I interview experts in the field. You’ll also hear from people -who I call- prototypes, who’s life is an example of purpose. 

So on this podcast, we dig into their path.. and create a community of people in pursuit of purpose. 


Today’s a special Lauren-only episode.
I went out on a limb 3 weeks ago and shared with you the deep and revealing questions I needed to ask myself in 2021. We talked about “what do I want” and “who am I.” Those were like -the climax questions. And we also talked about the smaller ones like “what difference am I making” which served as the gateway question for me.
Those questions led me on this amazing journey that resulted in what you’re listening to right now - AMPstigator. It’s why I’m here, sharing my story and my heart with you, to let you know it’s okay to feel this way, and to search for ways to feel better. But even deeper than that - to show how we can listen to others who are different from us and learn to ask questions. 

I believe whole-heartedly listening to others is the foundation of listening to self. Your openness to others lays the groundwork to be open to yourself and be open to what emerges as the answers to your personal questions. 

The truth is, there’s so much I want to share with you in these solo-episodes, but I want to make sure they’re focused, clear and -as concise- as it needs to be. I freaking love long, drawn out conversations, but I don’t like rambling… and I HATE wasting time. So I’m not gonna waste yours. Give me a long-focused-lesson. I’m here for that ALLL day. 

Maybe we’re the same – I’m busy, I’m marginally overwhelmed (I’m really working on this right now, p.s.), I crave time to myself, and this podcast is a slice of self-care for me. I hope it’s that for you, too. It’s a safe space for us to talk about the highs and lows on that path toward finding more fulfillment through telling our stories. 

So this week I wanted to talk about a lesson I’m learning right now. It’s a lesson I’ve NEVER learned, and I’m starting down this path for the first time in my adult life. It’s about intention. 

In this episode we’re gonna talk about 3 things:

**what intention isn’t

**what intention is

**and how I use and set intentions every single day and even multiple intentions in a day based on the chunk of time I’m working in

And before we get too deep into this thing, just know your note sheet, journal prompts and visual aids for this episode are *all in your email right now*. If you aren’t signed up for emails from me, it’s really simple – you can do it on my website and get all of these helpful tools on the morning I release each new episode. But here’s the deal – if you aren’t already signed up, the only way to get today’s notes is by emailing me directly: [email protected]. Just email me and tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll send it over lickety-split. And that goes for listening to this later. If it’s down the road and you want the notes and prompts, I save it all in a little folder on my computer. Just email me!


So let’s get into intention!

First… what intention *IS NOT.* And I want to start there because I really had it wrong.

Setting an Intention is not setting an expectation. 

EXPECTATION IS defined as “a strong belief that something will happen or be-the-case in the future.”

I expect to get my Amazon order within 2 days. I expect my Botox to wear-off earlier than it’s supposed to. I expect my kids to complain about their food every time we sit down for dinner. 

Expectation - whether positive or negative - is a strong belief that something will happen.

I, personally, have a hard time with expectation because I’ve been burned by it. I remember in high school, I ran for a state-wide student council seat that I thought I was assured to win. I was already making post-election plans. I was telling people what we would do afterward, and how we would change the region.

But then I lost.

I was blind-sided.


Totally ashamed.

I went into a spiral of self-loathing because I saw that I’d been so proud and so sure of myself, that I couldn’t handle the loss. It never occurred to me that I might lose. I mean, I couldn’t have been older than 14 or 15. So It left a deep gash.

The saddest part is I can say confidently, that’s the point I stopped hoping for things. After that, I stopped setting my expectations high because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the disappointment or the failure. 

Over and over in my life, when I failed, I would shut down and set my expectations lower and lower. So I stopped doing things that required any amount of risk and just played it safe because I thought if I set my expectations low, I couldn’t be disappointed and I definitely couldn’t fail because I had already told myself I wouldn’t do well anyway. So anything better was a pleasant surprise. 

But…. that’s my explanation of expectation – remember it’s a strong belief that something will happen. Expectation is belief.
That *IS NOT* intention.


So let’s keep going with what intention *IS NOT*

Intention is also NOT ASSUMPTION. This is something else I’ve been burned by… bad. 

Assumption is defined as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen”

I see assumption as kind of the next step after expectation.

If expectation is belief. Assumption is the acceptance of that belief.

Thankfully my husband is the person who broke me of assuming. When we first started dating in 2006, I always assumed the worst about him. He didn’t text me back fast enough – he must be with someone else. He didn’t answer when I called – he must be lying about where he is. 

Seriously, it was so ridiculous. My expectation (which was my belief) – and my assumption (which is the acceptance of that belief) – was that he was going to hurt me.

So again expectation is the belief. Assumption is the acceptance of that belief.

Here’s the definition of intention: “an aim or a plan.”

I’m really big into word pictures. So you’ll hear me create a lot of metaphors or visualizations to help you understand what I’m saying.

So if we look at it as a continuum. One, horizontal, straight line. I see intention on the left. Expectation in the middle and assumption on the right. Intention comes first because it’s the “aim or the plan.” Expectation is in the middle because it’s “a belief” in that plan. Assumption is on the right because then it’s the “acceptance of that belief.”

Assumption is a projection. It’s speculation. It’s a guess. It’s a theory. It’s plagued with “ifs.”

So that’s not intention.

Expectation is a belief that is forward-looking and requires certain things to fall in place.  So that’s not intention either. 


If we reverse back on that continuum into intention. What has to be in place before you can expect or assume or dare-I-say hope?

You have to intend. So let’s talk about what intention *is*.

Intention’s definition is “an aim or a plan.”

I see it as “Your aim.. Your plan.”

It’s your “objective”, your goal, your target.

Intention is where it all begins. It comes before expectation. And well before assumption. I intend to wash clothes. I intend to plan out my podcast episode. I intend to buy my husband a belated birthday gift because oh-my-god I didn’t do it.

Intention is the aim. The goal. The objective. 

You know what else intention is? Purpose. It’s *the reason* you’re doing something. 

The first time I ever heard someone link intention to purpose was back in December 2021. I was taping — Season 1 of the AMPstigator podcast, I shot 13 episodes in 3 days. It was a marathon shoot that we all took time off-work for – worked through the weekend – and by the end of it we were exhausted. Well, on my final day of shooting, I had someone coming in as a guest who I’d never met. I’d only ever talked to ONCE on the phone to see if he would come on my podcast. It was a man named Frank Castellano. 

If you listened to Season 1 you know Frank is a well-known psychic medium here in Nashville. He’s a 6th generation precognitive clairvoyant, clairaudient, clairsentient psychic. Suffice it to say he can see and hear the future. 

((If your interest is piqued, he’s episode 11 – The Healer. We talk all about his gifts and how they work. It’ll blow your mind. And I’ve since become obsessed with Frank and I’ve already recorded another episode with him that’s coming out June 14th.))

But he talked about purpose through the lens of intention. 

Take a listen to how Frank described it in that Season 1 episode:

Frank Castellano:

“We have to think purpose is something you do physically. It’s what you intend. If my purpose, my intention is love, then it’s going to show up in everything that I do. But if purpose is external, it’s my job. It won’t fulfill you because the physical world was not meant to fulfill you. So what is my purpose? My intention.”

I really like his take on this because purpose can be such a heavy word that’s loaded with **expectation**. So, he prefers talking about it as “intention.” And I loved that because it took the pressure off to make things perfect – or to know everything you’re supposed to be doing at any moment, because some days you just want a break. 

So – Your intention is deep within. It isn’t physical.

So he encouraged me -and continues to encourage me- to “set an intention.” So – an intention for AMPstigator. An intention for my TV career. An intention for my relationship with my kids. What’s my intention? 

And, like I said at the beginning. It’s not something I’ve ever done before because I got it too confused with expectation. And I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I couldn’t handle failure — I’m working on it, people, just grow with me.

But intention is the aim. Expectation is the belief you’ll fulfill that aim. Assumption is acceptance that you’re going to do it.


Setting an intention is connecting, inwardly, with our intuition and what we value. Lemme’ give you an example. 

I love weekends because I’m JUST MOM on the weekends. I’m not a news anchor. I’m not a podcaster. I’m just mom and I don’t take on anything else during those two days but be full-up with kids. My intention for EVERY weekend is for my kids to feel loved – BECAUSE I VALUE HOW THEIR EXPERIENCE AND THEIR EMOTIONAL HEALTH.
I don’t get quality time with them during the week and so they get a love-bomb from me on the weekends. I just saturate them. I’m like the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji on my kids. My entire weekend intention is to show love to my kids in a way that makes them feel special, safe and important. So, I don’t accept invitations to things that take me away from my kids. I’ve had people say to me before “you don’t do anything on the weekends,” and I was unapologetic -like- “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT I DON’T. I have 3 kids who need and DESERVE love from me. It has to be a big freaking deal for me to leave them.” So I value my time with them. My INTENTION is to show them they are WORTHY of my time and my love.

So what do I value – my kids feeling my love and support.
So my intention is to embody that value.  

Here’s another one – and this is one Frank shared with me.

Let’s say I’m going to law school and I say my intention is “to help people.” Great.
So, down the road if I’m in litigation and I’m helping someone, but I find myself saying “Oh man, I really wanna win this case,” that wasn’t my intention. My intention was to help people. So, if I wanted to win cases, THAT needed to be my intention. 

There’s NOTHING WRONG WITH WINNING or wanting to win. If that’s what I wanted – that should’ve been my intention. So you need to get really clear on what the intention really *IS*.. And that’s rooted in what you value.


You know I love word pictures… so let me describe it this way:

You’re shooting an arrow. That arrow is your intention. You pull the bow back and you point your arrow up to the sky and let it go. It flies up into the air and it lands in a field. The FIELD is the outcome of your intention. 

If you didn’t like the field it landed in, maybe that one has hay and you wanted a field with grass, so let’s fine-tune our intention.

So now, we’re going to change our body positioning, maybe we want a little less loft because we need to get in the grassy field instead.

So we aim differently. 

We can keep “trying on” intention until it feels right. And –like a lot of things I talk about here– YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN MAKE THAT CHOICE. It has to be resonant for YOU. It has to feel right to you and it has to take into account *WHAT YOU WANT.*

That’s where we get back to that other episode a few weeks ago – the one I recorded about *QUESTIONS*. What do I want? What do I enjoy? What’s important to me?
The answers to those questions are the basis of your values and FROM THERE.. You can set your intention. 

I’ll be honest, this is deep and soul-searching work. It requires you to get really crystal clear about what you feel is right for you. This is not an exercise in the analytical. It’s an exercise of the emotional, spiritual and – I would say physical. Because it becomes “when my arrow of intention  lands in that field, how do I feel? Do I feel constriction or do I feel a release, a freedom? We can use all of these markers to discover values… and I’ve talked about with another guest – MaryBeth Hyland. Her episode is called The Bridge – she’s episode 4. Listen here to what she says about values:

Marybeth Hyland
“I’m passionate about the emotional intelligence that values unlock instantly for people. You can talk to really deep things or start in the shallow end. But when you do it through the lens of values people understand themselves in a way that maybe could feel a little too complex if we’re talking about emotional intelligence overall or healing overall or purpose overall. It’s like ‘well lets understand what makes you come alive and let’s understand what doesn’t.”

So values can unlock your intention – and there’s work you gotta do TO GET THERE.

So refining intention is a constant reevaluation of values and where you want them to take you. 

Your values help shape your intention (or, your aim). Your intention becomes your expectation (or belief). Your expectation becomes your assumption (that you’ll get there). 

All of those things strengthen your arrow. Because you then begin to attract the people and the resources necessary to make that happen. That attraction is one of the hallmarks of purpose – or in this case “intention” – that i see as one of the major truths throughout my work to interview people who’ve found purpose. I’ve linked my video “5 Truths of Purpose and the People who Find it” in the show notes for this episode. 

The thing I like about intention is that intention starts with me. It doesn’t need anyone else’s permission. It’s a solo question: what do I want out of this? It starts with an internal checking-in of like “how am I doing today?” And then it builds out from there.


And I want to encourage you – this doesn’t have to be a heavy life-intention. We can start this out really easy. And this is EXACTLY what I do. So-remember at the beginning how I said “i’m learning this right now”... well this is how i’m learning it. I haven’t figured out my BIG-LIFE-INTENTION for this podcast yet, but while I try on possible intentions, i’m flexing this muscle each day to try to fine-tune it.

So here’s an example of how I use intention every day. I have about 90 minutes in the morning after school drop-off and before work that I get as my time to do what I need to do. It could be work around the house - like laundry, cleaning the kitchen, picking up… whatever. Or I could use that time for the podcast: planning my next episode, checking analytics, phone calls or meetings… whatever. But I only have 90 minutes and then the next chance to work on that stuff is after the kids are in bed. So, I have to be reeeeeally INTENTIONAL about this time, because it’s a limited resource. 

A few weeks ago, I made the choice to begin setting an intention every morning for those blocks of time, and not allowing pretend-urgency to knock me off course. So like, today I woke up and before my feet hit the ground I asked myself “what is my intention for this morning block of time? Today it was “EPISODE.”

I finished planning my episode today.

Yesterday morning my intention was “BOOKKEEPING.” 

I may wake up one morning and be like “podcast work aint happening today. My house is a wreck.” So if I’m going to take that precious time away from working on the podcast, then it better be good. So my intention becomes “CLEAN.” I stay focused. I don’t play on my phone. I don’t divert to do something different. I . STAY. FOCUSED. And that allows me to maximize my effort. 

AND NOTICE – all of these are single-word intentions. This is not goal setting where you set parameters and quantifiable measures. This is ephemeral. This is a commitment to yourself of what you’re going to devote *ATTENTION to*. 


I’ve begun setting a solo-intention every morning and, for me,  it’s changed my whole day. Instead of saying “here’s my to-do list and I have to get all of it done.” I’ve begun saying to myself “here’s my intention. Here’s the one thing that deserves my focus AND MY ATTENTION right now. That’s it.” It’s helped me feel so much more in control of what happens. And I don’t get overwhelmed with all there is to do for my family, for my work at the station and for AMPstigator. 

I always want this podcast to serve as a guide for you. To help you think. To help you grow. Because what's the point of this if we're stuck in the same place all the time, not evolving. So my goal is to always give you prompts, to give you  thoughts, to give you questions that force you into reflection and ultimately growth. If you look around you, all of nature is waking up, coming alive again. 


After doing this work day-in and day-out for several weeks, I'm at a point now where I'm making larger, multi-month intentions. So, about a month ago I started working on increasing my capacity. I was really dealing with being overwhelmed and I was like "i've gotta get better at holding all this. I need to increase my capacity." 

And so in April I happened to say that to a really dear friend. I told him "I'm working right now on increasing my capacity." He said to me "Lauren, this is a time of 'and.' It's not either/or. Increasing your capacity is embracing the and." So it hit me. He was right.

After that moment, my intention became "and".

I wrote it on a piece of paper. 


That was my intention.



So, I was making those small intentions for those morning blocks of 90 minutes. But I also set this much bigger intention for what I needed RIGHT NOW. 

it was "AND."

So here I am -- recording this a few weeks after setting that intention, and I'm feeling more expansive. I've actively made choices that will make me LESS overwhelmed. I'm NOT requiring so much of myself. --Just like people have the energy to clean out in the spring -- Ifeel the same energy to re-work my life to feel less overwhelmed. I'm tackling the things that I haven't been able to get to -- because that's where my focus needed to me. MY INTENTION.

My intention was - and continues to be - AND.

So I'm actively scaling my intention. I'm starting with my 90 minute blocks of time. I'm feeling my focus, my attention, my intention grow stronger. 

I expand that to my weekend intention -- here's the one thing that deserves my focus this weekend.

I expand again to -what I'm going to call- a seasonal intention. Meaning, in this season of my life, my focus needs to be here. I'll allow that intention to take the time it requires. Maybe I embrace the "and" in a month's time. Maybe it takes all year. But it's something I know will bring me more growth and expansion because I'm learning a lesson, I'm driving my awareness deeper and I'm improving something that I'm otherwise not great at when I start. 

So I encourage you to take some time for yourself, to start figuring out what you value. Allow that to be the basis of intention. Point your attention and focus there. That's when you'll begin to have positive expectations and assumptions associated with that growth. 

Because that's the beautiful part about this process.

I used to get burned by expectation and assumption -- I do think they have negative connotations. 

But for us, once we've set our intention, we can harness those things to attract what we want to have or what we want to become.

And remember what AMPstigator means -- it's a play on words.

Instigator is a person who brings about something.  

Amplify is to bring INTENSITY to something. INTENTION and INTENSITY have the same root. So setting an intention is part of that intense pursuit to bring change in your life.

You're powerful enough to do all of that. 

And what's more... it's there for you.

So I would encourage you, if you have leaks in your schedule right now and you can’t seem to get it all done, set your intention. 

In the meantime, you can begin figuring out what you value. What’s important to you and what comes alive. Those values become the foundation of what becomes your INTENTION

If you’re loving AMPstigator, rate it and review it right now on the platform where you’re listening. Your review is important because that’s how others find this podcast. Plus – if you’ve found an episode to be particularly helpful, share it with someone who needs to hear it. 

And don’t forget, I’ve made note sheets, journal prompts and even put together some of my word pictures into images for you to think of when you’re listening to this episode – it was delivered straight to the inbox of email subscribers when this episode went live. You don’t want to miss that. So, go to ampstigator.com and sign up for email updates from me. And if you want today’s notes, but you weren’t signed up, no prob! Just email me at LAUREN@ AMPSTIGATOR.COM . Tell me what you need and I’ll send it right over. 

Next week I have former NFL lineman, Marques Ogden joining me. He went from the NFL – to business – but he lost his business… BECAME A JANITOR… and built it all back again. His story of grit, determination and overcoming is so inspirational. I can’t wait to share it. We’ll release clips of his episode in the next few days on Instagram. So, follow me there! Search for @ampstigator.

As always, I encourage you to shine your light – and thanks joining me on this journey to live life, purposefully.

I’m Lauren Lowrey and THIS is AMPSTIGATOR. 

Get AMPstigator in your inbox

This is the easiest way to stay up to speed on who we're interviewing and when you'll see their episode.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.