Diversion Is At the Core of Being Intentional

Beth E Lee MBA MSc
6 min readMar 10, 2023

Recognising the diversion brings choice to the forefront.

To be intentional doesn’t mean to be purposeful, goal-driven, or aligned. Being intentional is when you engage in the human ability of diversion; the action of turning something away from its usual course.

It sounds counterintuitive. When we use the term intention in a sentence, it’s used to point towards acting on a specific goal or purpose. For example, he is intending to mow the lawn. Or, her intention is to have it finished by Friday. Intention seems to mean something very specific, not a diversion away something. So we use the word in daily life to replace terms like purpose or goal, yet diversion is still at the core.

The dictionary defines intention as an aim or a plan. But Voacularly.com also defines the word intention as an idea you plan or aim to do. Throw in a definition from Wiki that says, intention is a mental state where there is commitment to a course of action. Finally, psychologists, specifically the APA (American Psychologist Association) dictionary, defines intention as a prior conscious decision to perform a behaviour. So, is intention a prior decision or an idea to commit to a plan and then take action? This sounds like a great definition. So where does the diversion come into play? When we look at the mechanics of intention. It’s through the mechanics we can find the psychological skill of intention.

Photo credit: javier-allegue-barros-unsplash

In the article, “Living With Intention”, Loretta Breuning, PhD, explains intention as our human ability to divert our brain electricity away from running down the path of least resistance. It’s our ability to divert that energy away from the ruts or highways of past experience toward an alternative path. It’s something animals don’t do that we humans do. We predict our next moves based on past experience, but it’s our ability to notice that we have a choice to divert that electricity elsewhere that’s important.

What I find interesting is the intersection of the psychological view and the neuroscience view of intention. It’s within that intersection where we can explore how the mechanics of our brain may help to explain our mind and ultimately our behaviour. Now not all the time will the mechanics be a cause of why we behave or think. By using the insight, this…