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Making a Wish Versus Setting an Intention

My first parakeet, Perky! He was my bestie, my everything, from the time I was eight until I left for college.

“Make a wish.” Is there any phrase more universal, more central, more human than our ability to wish, to dream, to imagine?

I have found that, yes, actually, there is.

When I was little, I truly believed that the wish you get to make when you blow out the candles on your once-a-year birthday cake was a special wish. It had more power than my other daily life wishes. It would only come true if you didn’t tell anybody what you wished for, ever.

I don’t remember how good I was at keeping my own secrets (not very good, I suspect) but I do remember that a distressingly low percentage of those big birthday wishes ever came true.

The one I remember that did come true – my 7th grade self’s passionate wish for a pet parakeet – only did so after a full year spent engaged in pestering, whining, hounding and begging my mom.

So was it really my “wish” for a parakeet that came true, or rather was it my dogged intention to make it come true no matter what? 

Based on what I am now learning in my ongoing studies with intuitive guide and mentor Sonia Choquette, it was more likely the latter that brought Perky, my first parakeet, into my life on my 8th birthday.

Just recently as I was reading one of Sonia’s books, I learned there is a discrete difference between making a wish and setting an intention. When I read this, I thought to myself, “How is it I am only figuring this out now?”

It just makes so much sense. Making a wish, for me at least, feels so passive – like just throwing my heart’s desires out there and hoping they will boomerang around and come back to me. What if the wind shifts? What if someone steals them? What if they get lost and can’t find their way back?

If they are really important wishes, it would be much better to set some safeguards in place, like setting a bona fide intention to make sure those wishes come true!

This is the kind of thing Sonia teaches about in her books that I really want to learn. What I find particularly interesting is that the difference between the two – making a wish versus setting an intention – is kind of subtle at the outset. To even feel the difference I have to tune in and really pay attention.

When I do, I notice that making a wish feels ethereal, powerless, haphazard at best. Setting an intention, on the other hand, feels substantial, powerful, focused.

With some practice, I am now starting to get the hang of changing my wishes into intentions. But all that goes away when my mind kicks in and asks, “But HOW are you going to fulfill your intention?”

Well, gosh. I have no idea.

In Sonia’s books, she doesn’t really delve into this grey area. Her focus is on helping her students learn to firmly set an intention and focus on it to the point where it begins to feel real. This, she states, will bring into my life people and resources and experiences to help turn my intention into my reality.

I love this idea, because it factors out my total ineptitude in certain areas where I have very strong wishes….er, intentions.

I can’t say I have actually seen any of my intentions fledge and take flight as of yet, but perhaps that is just because I still need a lot (and I do mean a LOT) more practice.

Today’s Takeaway: What are your thoughts on the differences – if any – between making a wish and setting an intention? Have you ever experimented with one or the other? When you have achieved things you really wanted in the past, can you identify how you went about it? Do you feel like your method could be duplicated for future wishes or intentions?

Making a Wish Versus Setting an Intention

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). Making a Wish Versus Setting an Intention. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Aug 2019
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