Intentions, Affirmations, Decisions

Do you set an intention before you do something? I often do. I like to ask participants in my classes to set an intention for the state that they’ll be in during the class, or for what they choose to get out of the class. I’ve noticed that when people do this, they tend to get more out of the class.

Have you ever done an affirmation? If you have, you probably know how powerful they are. In case you’ve never done one, it’s a positive, present tense statement of something that  you want, that can be controlled by you, as if it already existed. I’m a huge believer in affirmations, because a few of them have really changed my life, including the one that brought my wonderful husband to me. (Want to know how that can work for you? Call me for a session.) Others have changed my relationship to time and to myself. 

Just today, though, a very wise woman pointed out that there is something even more powerful — a decision. Normally, we think of decisions as being choices of what to do or not do. She was talking, however, about deciding what to think and what to believe. Yes, you can choose your beliefs, that is, you can choose what you take as real. You can decide what to believe about the world — and about yourself.

No matter how cavalierly we use them, words have actual meanings — meanings which carry the energy from their root words, and from the billions of times the words and their roots have been used.  So it’s important to pay attention to the distinctions between these words:

Intention is from Latin intendere, to stretch out for or aim at. So when you intend something, you are saying, ‘this is my goal — but I might not make it’. You are allowing the possibility of failure.

Decision is from Latin decisio, a cutting short. The implication is that you are cutting off all choices but one. This manifests in reality. When you decide, you are only allowing that one thing to happen.

Affirmation is from Latin affirmare, to present as fixed, or make firm. So in order for an affirmation to work, you must first decide that this is so.

It seems from these definitions that you can have a general intention, but for actual results, it’s best to make a decision, which you then restate regularly in an affirmation.

Neurolinguistics teaches us that nominalizations, which are nouns made from frozen verbs, rather than real things you can touch, are less powerful than the verbs that spawn them, because they hide lots of information. That is, you can ‘make a decision’ and it’s a complete thought, but if ‘you decide’, that is not a complete thought. It requires you to state what you decide. Similarly, you can ‘have an intention’ while you must intend something in particular, and you can ‘do an affirmation’ while you must affirm something specific.

To get results then, what works best is to decide something, and then to affirm that decision regularly.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (, who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.