It’s easy to think that manifestation starts and ends with our belief, but that’s only a part of the story of how we finally get to bask in the glory of our truth. It is only part of the work, including the physical labor, it takes to reach the heights we’ve dreamed of. However, another part is to make room for not only imagining the life we choose to manifest, but the intention behind the why we show up for the things we’re choosing to manifest.

Just as faith without works are dead, so are our actions without the mindful intentions behind them. Everything we do, from our morning coffee to our summertime walks to the love we give, is driven by our wants and our needs. Some of these things are more conscious, while some stem from a deep subconscious thinking that we may or may not be aware of. Nevertheless, all of our choices are driven by our intentions. And the more we are aware of the layers of our intentions, the more purposeful we can be when it comes to how we travel on our spiritual path.

Intentions set the tone for everything, from our interpersonal relationships to the work we choose to do. When we’re intentional, it allows for our actions to be driven and motivated by something bigger and broader than our habits. Our habits become the unconscious ways we move about in the world. We all have our routines, the things we lean on to not only get us through both the good and bad days, but the things we lean into when we are triggered, when our trauma is front and center, and when we are not present in the moment of what is true. If we are not aware of our intentions, our habitual mind—the mind that is on autopilot— affects not only ourselves and those close to us but even those we have little or no contact with. We run the risk of going through life perpetually confused.

How we can firmly land on an intention for any given circumstance is to ask ourselves, “what do we want to get out of this situation?” On the surface, that can be anything: money, love, sex, friendship, a job, or an opportunity. But truly, it is never solely what is on the surface. We have to really look and seek what is the deep rooted thing motivating us. Maybe it’s to be loved; maybe it’s to repair a broken friendship; maybe it’s to show that we have value. Whatever that thing is, by observing as a bystander—without judgment, shame or guilt—what our deepest intention is in any given situation, we afford ourselves to show up in a way that aligns with our truth. Accordingly, we also are able to shift that intention if we think it does not align or will elicit the outcome that feels close to our value system.

When we set our intentions, when we are clear about them with ourselves and others, it allows more room for truth, for empathy, for compassion and for love to flourish. The process of getting there takes practice, but in the end the work behind doing so is the kind of growth that leads to our true liberation.