Luck vs Intention … which one wins

four leaf clover hidden in the grass

Some people just seem lucky. They seem to have everything we want and then some. We wonder why they have such ease and what makes them special.  But is is luck or intention? 

A client of mine told me “luck is just opportunity meeting preparation”, which is a statement about luck that I love. I like this one because so many chalk things up to luck and leave themselves completely powerless in the determination of their lives. I see this a lot in addictive patterns as well as those caught in cycles of trauma, abuse, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar episodes. They feel powerless over their circumstances, unlucky, and therefore stuck. What if it is not luck? What if it is intention and planning that make the difference?

To move into this paradigm one must be willing to take some responsibility for their current situation. This is very difficult to do when you feel someone has “done this to you” or “the world is cruel” or “my body/mind continue to fail me”.  However, even in these circumstances we have choices. We always have choices. The problem many face … they do not like any of their choices. To combat not liking or accepting what they have to chose from, they make no choice or a choice by habit. This results in feeling powerless and unlucky or fortunate and lucky depending on the outcome of today’s choice. When this becomes ritual it begins to feel even more random and uncontrollable leading to less empowerment and belief in one’s ability to manifest the changes they want to see in their lives. 


In the business, self development, and leadership worlds intention is a very powerful and necessary thing to get you to the goal you want. It is talked about, developed, and cultivated as a core skill needed to succeed. You must decide, visualize, see, and believe that you will have what you want. Once you have those pieces in place, opportunities and options for how you will get them begin to appear. It is not that they magically arrived in your life. It is that by making the decision to go after a goal, you begin to realize the choices and opportunities in front of you – they were always in front of you, you just couldn’t see them because you were focused on what was missing, what you couldn’t do, what was wrong, etc. You find what you are looking for. Remember the blue car exercise a few months ago? This simple exercise shows us that where we put our attention matters. We begin to notice more of what we are thinking about – aka paying attention to. 

We can use this trick to be deliberate about our lives no matter what our current circumstances. A quick google search reveals that advertisers really understand how to get us to focus our intentions and they make millions watching us behave just how they wanted us to.

Although intention may feel like a whoo whoo concept of abstract nothingness, it is actually physical movement. Your thought becomes an action by activating areas of the brain associated with movement. According to Lau, Rogers, Haggard, and Passingham “intention is central to voluntary action” (p. 1208) and “our results suggest that attention to intention may be one mechanism by which effective conscious control of actions becomes possible” (2004, p. 1210) Knowing that intention is a physical process in the brain we can ground into the knowledge that as we think about things we also create a physical reaction in the body. This physical reaction sets into motion a variety of processes that help us realize and notice the right opportunities to making our thought reality. 

Today try it out. Shift your focus from the idea that life happens to you and begin to set intentions about how you want your day to look. Start with small things and begin to notice how your mind and body react to the focal points you have created. Begin to pay attention to how those around you react to your new focus. Keep a journal or list of the changes you are noticing just by thinking about and visualizing your day differently – the one you want to have, not just the one you were handed. 

Be intentional about your food

Take Control of Your Intentions:

Here are some areas to focus on to get you started. Remember change begins with you and happens best in small increments. As you shift your focus today, visualize how you would like to feel by engaging in your day. For example you might want to have a smoother morning routine, get to work on time, complete a work project with ease, want an appointment to go well, to treat another with grace, or enjoy your household chores. In your mind’s eye see yourself successfully complete your goal and allow yourself to feel the emotions associated with being successful. Feel them fully as you do the visualization. 

5 Places you can get started now: 

  1. Find one you find beautiful around you right now
  2. Set the intention to treat others with kindness today
  3. Decide to smile at everyone you meet
  4. Allow yourself to feel love as you cook a meal 
  5. Give gratitude for the things in your home that make you comfortable


Lau, H. C., Rogers, R. D., Haggard, P., Passingham. (2004). Attention to Intention. Science 303, DOI: 10.1126/science.1090973