What kinds of intentions can be realized? It seems there are many pitfalls as an intention can become an obsession or expectation, or holding a specific intention can put the focus on the future and not on what is happening now.
In answer to your question, I wish to propose a distinction between intent and intentions.
Could we say that intentions are a verbal residue of the thinking process? Intentions are all the things we have thought about doing, or still think about doing. They may be warm and fuzzy, pious considerations of what you would do if you could do what you think you should do. Or they may not be so comfy and instead consume your psyche with guilt and a sense of failure. In any case, the road to hell is apparently paved with them, as the saying goes.
Intentions are usually automatically-arising mental fantasies which are not backed by anything other than the current personal identity of the one who entertains them. They may have emotional content and we know how stable and reliable that is. Should we really assume responsibility for all our intentions? What a burden. Of course, it is a problem if we speak of them to others…not a wise practice. The attention and expectations of others heighten consequences; if we don’t follow through, we are weakened, are we not?
Intent is an act of will in the present moment. Intent requires the summoning of resources in order to make the aim of intent as real as possible in the present. Intent does not arise easily or often. It represents a real commitment, an essence oath, a sacred pledge. The intent remains active until completed; it may not be in your thoughts at all times but it is always close to hand. In quiet moments, its existence is accommodated and nurtured, body, heart and mind.
To maintain intent, the thought, sense and feeling behind it must not vary. Attention must be active and voluntary. No negative thoughts can be admitted. The timing and the circumstances of realizing intent can be questioned but intent itself is held, harboured, with care and attention, until its action is fully expressed and its aim is attained. The one who practices intent must know to avoid considering intent when the inner state is lacking integrity, perhaps due to tiredness, mood or negative circumstances.
Intent is a practical matter. The thoughts, sensations and feelings associated with intent and its particular aim must be known and locked into place. They are the code for invocation of intent and its fulfillment. This code is the perfect accommodation for realizing your aim, sympathetic with it in every way. Do you have a gesture which is the expression of this intent? Does its achievement have a sensation which corresponds to it? Can you voluntarize them? Is magical thinking designed to bend the universe to your will? It is not. The code is the means by which your attention is fixed on attaining your aim so that you do not miss opportunities to act correctly to attain it and so that you do not unconsciously impede its realization. This is the method for bringing intentions to intent.
The present is a space which accommodates action and attainment. The future can be accommodated in the present. Nothing can be accommodated in the future because it does not exist, it is nowhere. The future has no space, no spatial existence; it consists of mental projections having no physical orientation, hanging unanchored in the realm of possibility. What we wish from the future must be given a place in the present where the body gives it substance and dimension.