Desire vs Intent — Why Your Success Depends on Understanding the Biology Behind Their Difference

2 min readJan 26, 2021


The internet is saturated with posts, articles and books about wanting vs doing, and we all absolutely agree that only doing gets you results. But understanding a fact vs understanding the mechanics behind that fact are two very different things. We all know that explaining the Why behind the What to your team members, for example, will produce much more superior outcomes (short term AND long term) than simply asking them to execute the What.

So why desire and intent are so different? The answer is much deeper than you might think but at the same time it’s not complicated. The reason intent carries a much higher execution potential has to do with human biology.

When we desire something, we focus on that as a goal which requires expending a certain amount of our mental energy. Intent is different — it focuses on the process of achieving the goal. In order for the intent to materialize, it has to take the energy from your desire and route it into actions, therefore powering the execution of this process. Without intent, you will remain in the idling mode while losing a lot of valuable energy that could have been used more productively. Another reason why desire without intent never generates any results has to do with the way our brain works. It’s programmed to consistently kill idle processes after a certain period of time to preserve energy. This is why desires never materialize without intent.

You might think that there’s much more to this but there’s not. This is it and hopefully it’s clear and concise enough for you to start integrating this information into your mental frameworks.

To recap:

  1. Desire focuses on the goal and by doing so expends your mental energy.
  2. Intent focuses on the process of achieving the goal and routes the energy from desire into actions thus powering the execution.
  3. Our brain consistently kills idle processes to preserve energy so intent needs to come relatively quickly.