What’s Your Intention?
Resolutions versus Intentions
Put up your hand… How many of you (like me) would admit your January 1st “resolutions” to hit the gym five days a week tend to disappear by January 31st? Why is this? It’s because resolutions are often based on what we “should” do – not necessarily what we want (as in, choose or decide) to achieve.
Intentions are the motives accompanying an action. In the example of seeking a new job (the action), the underlying motivations could include making more money, finding more meaning, gaining influence, or helping people. Intentions surpass conventional “best practice” because they tap into our vast potential to actively create the life of our dreams.
Remember the Law of Attraction; you can draw to you energetically that which you seek. Couple these principles with our inner force to bring into existence whatever we focus on through our 45,000 thoughts a day… I think you’ll soon see another intriguing difference between resolutions and intentions. Resolutions are typically founded on what we don’t want (back to the gym – being “fat”). If we think often enough of not wanting to be “fat”, we create the very conditions to stay “fat”. Rather, we would be well-advised to channel our power toward what we do seek (health).
Manifesting Our Intentions
Now, it is one thing to think you know what you intend and quite another to see what actually shows up! When the disconnection between these two is large, you may have to ask yourself if what you say you want is really what you want. Hence, the need to apply all four steps of manifestation: Desire, Ask, Believe and Receive.
Desire means becoming very clear about what you choose (always expressed in the positive). Asking includes both requesting support and acting as if what you want is already in your life today. As to Belief, here’s a fool-proof to know what you believe: Just look at everybody/everything around you! On some level, they reflect what you believe about yourself. So, if you’re surrounded by negativity, you might consider what “vibes” you’re sending out to “attract” it to you. Finally, to Receive is to stay open to getting what you asked for, even if your desires don’t always arrive in the form and timing you put forth.
The Top Ten List
Here is the step-by-step process I’ve been dedicatedly following (just ask my friends) every year since 2000. While my documents now average 12 pages per year, you needn’t go to these lengths! Follow your inner guidance as to what feels right:
1) List all your successes and wins of the past 12 months.
2) List all your disappointments and breakdowns of the past 12 months.
3) Name your top ten accomplishments of the year.
4) Write a paragraph or more that will allow you to feel “complete” (i.e., at peace) with the calendar year just passed.
5) Capture five to seven key lessons you learned (or insights you gained) between January and December.
6) List five BEING qualities (character traits and/or values) you choose to embody in the new year (some of mine have encompassed patience, compassion and courage).
7) Name five DOING actions (i.e., what you want to achieve and/or how you intend to grow) in the next 12 months.
8) Enumerate five things you will HAVE in your life as a result of your doing. Note the sequence of items 6 to 8. While North Americans are prone to think, what do I need to do in order to have certain things (skipping the “be” altogether), all manifestation actually starts with being…as in, who you need to be in order to accomplish the doing that will result in having.
9) Identify what actions and attitudes you plan to Keep, Stop and Start doing in the next 12 months, based on your intentions.
10) Develop a “mantra” for the next year. Mine is: “In 2009, I shine”. I add to these statements what I mean by any key words (in this case, “shine”).
If you wish to bump up the “oompf” of your intentions, how about creating a Vision Map? Buy several of your favourite magazines – cutting out pictures and words that inspire, uplift and move you. Put together a collage that is a visual representation of what you want to generate in your life. Hang your Vision Map where you’ll see it daily. Refer to it often to determine which choices, actions and behaviours will keep moving you closer to your best year yet!
“You get to fill the blackboard of your life with whatever you want. If you have filled it with baggage from the past, wipe it clean. Erase everything from the past that does not serve you, and be grateful it brought you to this place now, and to a new beginning. You have a clean slate, and you can start over – right here, right now. Find your joy and live it!” (Unknown)
A Look Back
As my cherished Auntie Irma always used to say, time only flies more quickly with every passing calendar year. The trouble is, too few of us step off the crazy daily treadmill long enough to pause and take stock of our progress. As such, our inner power remains largely untapped. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many of you haven’t even looked at your intentions since New Year’s – until I bring them to your attention now. How can I make such a bold claim? Because I haven’t revisited my own list as often as I had promised myself over that time!
So, how about we together return to that important personal growth work and take a brief look at what has happened in the past six months? Let me just grab my own list along with you.
Let’s use the format of “questions for reflection” to guide your discoveries. That way, you can make the second part of the year your best yet! Here we go:
- What has been your biggest win or success of the first six months of the year?
- What has been your biggest disappointment of the first six months of the year?
- What is at least one key lesson you have experienced by this point?
- How have you taken action on what you’ve learned?
- Which attitudes and behaviours have been working well for you this year?
- Which attitudes and behaviours have not been effective for you this year?
- What “course corrections” do you choose to make so you can Be, Do and Have what you deliberately intend by December 31?
The Top “Ten” List (12 for this occasion)
How well do you align with your word and live your commitments? Notice as you fill in the blanks!
1) One way I demonstrate the integrity of my personal leadership through attitude, word or behaviour is ______________________________________________.
2) Colleagues have experienced my Authentic Self through __________________.
3) An action I have taken to continuously improve things at work is ___________.
4) I practice extreme self-care by _________________________________.
5) _______________________ is someone for whom I make a huge difference.
6) My (unique professional or personal) experience of ______________________ sets me apart from the crowd around me.
7) ______________ is a proud accomplishment in keeping with my annual intentions.
8) I extend loving kindness to those around me by _________________________.
9) I am now defining success as ________________________________________.
10) I have left the comfort zone of _______________________ behind me for good.
11) __________________________ is one action I have taken to become “unstuck”.
12) I have made space for new opportunities to come to me by _________________.
Here’s one of my all-time favourite paragraphs. I believe it well captures everything I strive to convey from my heart to yours.
|“You have a purpose that exists only for you and that only you can fulfill… it takes courage and self-love to answer that call. Your only obligation is to carry out the mission you are meant for, not what your father, mother, mate, or friends say you should do. No one can go through your life, tell you what it is or how to live it, except you. We’re talking about self-care here: releasing the need to please others so that you take care of yourself! Every one of you has an individual mission to manifest. Each of you has an individual part to play in that process. There are no substitutes for you, no actors standing in the wings to play your role… Your mission will begin to take shape in you when you consciously follow your inner wisdom. Your mission is the most important gift you will ever receive in your life. You have no excuses for missing the mark because it’s your mark. The ultimate source for your answers is an inside job.”(Naomi Stephan, Fulfill Your Soul’s Purpose)|
Connecting to Your Future
So, what do we mean by playing full-out? The way I see it, you always have three choices: 1) Play to win; 2) Play to lose; and 3) Play to “not” lose. Now, you may ask, aren’t “winning” and “not losing” the same thing? To which I would unequivocally answer: No way!
Not losing focuses you on the negative – what could go wrong or how you could fail. Because you’ve set that thought into your powerful mind, there’s a good chance for it to manifest. Not always easy to do, playing to win closes down any option but success. That’s why most people (those who also get mediocre results) play to “not lose”.
Their goal is to avoid fear or pain. They go to the edge of their comfort zone – and stop. Fear of rejection, failure, success, disapproval, not measuring up, being uncomfortable, making a mistake, getting hurt, or looking foolish stops them in their tracks. Anytime you hear yourself say “I can’t”, what you really mean is “I’m afraid”.
On the other hand, wildly successful people focus on winning. And, they’re scared all the time! Why? Because they know everything worth going after is outside their comfort zone. Every time you do something that causes you to gulp, you’re playing to win. That’s why I encourage you to face your fear and play full-out!
Opening to Future Possibilities
As you begin to question certain aspects of how you’ve handled life in the past, start to think about situations and people with whom you’ve always felt comfortable and how they may have inadvertently closed you off to new possibilities.
As you do, let me share an exercise from my coach training. What we call the “Future Self” is a guided visualization where you ‘meet’ yourself 20 years down the road. Even though we can’t actually have this experience together, if you reflect long enough, I’m certain you’ll get in touch with some of your true power through this focus.
Coming out of the visualization, my clients are often astounded to discover, “So, this is Who I Really Am? I can’t believe it.” Motivational guru Tony Robbins calls this Higher (Real) Self the “sleeping giant within”. Did you know you can access your own wise inner core whenever you want? All you have to do to connect is ask.
The Top Ten List
How lucky that each of us has a Future Self who’s only too happy to be consulted when needed. Believe in the wisdom of your Future Self, for he or she is you! Just because you can’t physically reach out to him or her doesn’t mean she or he isn’t with you 24 hours a day.
Imagine what would be possible if you were to use your True Self to design the life of your dreams. Here’s the great news! That’s what this month’s reflective questions are precisely meant to draw out of the deepest places in you:
1) How would you describe your Future Self (looks, attitudes, behaviours)?
2) In what part of the world and surroundings is she or he located?
3) What kind of work are you doing in this future?
4) What else do you “see” about your life 20 years from now?
5) What do you need to know about your present circumstances and how those connect to the direction in which you’re travelling?
6) What changes in attitudes, beliefs and values have occurred in you by the time two decades have passed?
7) What is one insight your Future Self wants to impart today to help guide your efforts down the road?
8) If there were a gift you Future Self would wish to offer you, what would it be?
9) What practices can you undertake to regularly access your Future Self (hint: make time to tune in through techniques like journaling, relaxation, visualization)?
10) How can you ensure that you design your future, not based on what you know in the past or present, but using the awareness you’ve now gained that comes from your wise and centered inner core?
As you responded to these inquiries, I sincerely hope you pictured a future large enough to accommodate who you’re becoming!
Besides any “meditative” practices in which you may now be impressed to engage to regularly connect to your Future Self, here’s a little “bonus” exercise. Identify 52 things that would be possible in your life if you were to step out of your current comfort zones. Go back over your list, grouping and sequencing similar items. The idea is to “schedule” one possibility per week into your calendar over the next year – making it your focus for seven days at a time. You may want to start with the easiest-to-implement actions first and work your way up to the more difficult or long-term. How does it feel as you stand in front of 52 new possibilities?
Creating Your Ideal Day
Make the Time
You know my philosophy about Intentions versus Resolutions. I see the first as so much more powerful because they’re based in what we want (our most cherished hopes) rather than “should’s” (e.g., exercise unrealistically hard, eat dangerously little, never buy yourself even a small treat and other scarcity-oriented demands we confine ourselves into).
How about we now step it up a notch? Rather than “limit” yourself to intentions covering only one year, what if you were to devote some significant concentration defining how to make your perfect day a reality?
To do this, you’ll need some soul-searching alone time. This means, a quiet period(s) when you shut off the phone and turn away from all those competing priorities – even if it’s only for an hour at a stretch. This is where your new life begins to be heard, and you must be open to listen.
The Top Ten List
As you get underway, bear in mind this exercise assumes no fears or obstacles or restrictions. Do not short-change or under-estimate your power of possibilities. To support you, your Top Ten list will combine suggestions to facilitate your imagination and best-practices to derive the most from your efforts:
1) Begin at the first moment you open your eyes on your Ideal Day. Where are you? Who is around you?
2) Describe every little detail – what you’re wearing, eating, doing, etc. Even include the perfect weather!
3) As your perfect day progresses, describe the fun activities laced throughout.
4) Describe what you’re doing as the sun sets. Write everything about the evening – your meal, your companions, your attire, where you’ll spend the night.
5) Now, read over your Ideal Day. What does this tell you about yourself?
6) If this had been written by someone you didn’t know, what would it reveal about that person?
7) Now, compare all this to the way you view your life today. If there are differences, why? What factors are presently blocking your perfect day?
8) Reflect upon and record what you have discovered through this process.
9) Place your writing somewhere safe. Occasionally, take it out and re-read it.
10) If your desires continue to ring true, you’re on the right track. If something you’ve written doesn’t fit you anymore, change it.
Remember: This is all about you – in the best sense! You’re the star in your own performance. Your Ideal Day belongs to you and no one else. You need to be sure it’s something you can put your energy and enthusiasm behind.
Have you ever come across the notion, most people spend more time planning their vacations than their lives? Sad but true. Please don’t let yourself be one of them. If you’re wondering how you’ll find the time to do this work by February, I retort: “You can’t afford not to dedicate some attention to this most important task called “your life”!
As I like to do, let me leave you on an introspective note. I hope you enjoy this affirmation for the rest of your life. To me, it aptly expresses the sentiments underlying everything I’ve wanted to unleash in you as it regards your Ideal Day.
|“In the new picture of the coming years, I see my life growing and expanding in everything: in health, youth, and unlimited energy at all times and in all circumstances. I see myself in complete freedom. I see unlimited growth in my personal capacity, mental power, and intellectual brilliancy. I see constant improvement in all the elements of my personality and my body. I see daily growth in my wisdom, understanding, insight, and realization. I see myself in peace, harmony, love, and joy. I see my character expanding to be stronger and more beautiful. I see the never-ending betterment of friends, associations, and environments. I see myself in everlasting joy and infinite bliss.”(The Secret calendar: December 31, 2008)|
Ending on a High Note
Remembering – To Look Ahead
Recently, I found myself recalling sound words of advice from a former colleague and now long-time friend to “always end on a high”. She volunteered this phrase during a particularly frustrating period when I would have liked nothing more than to tender my resignation on the spot. If I were honest!
Had I forged ahead with my impatient designs, Michelle is right. My employment would have concluded on a low. Depleted energy would have neither rendered justice to a workplace that had given much nor honoured my significant contributions.
Instead, adopting a thoughtful approach to my departure and search allowed me to complete important projects during that difficult period – while leaving a legacy of grace.
The Top Ten List
No matter what kind of year it has been personally, you can choose to see it out on a high. If the past twelve months were great, make them fantastic by celebrating your achievements to the hilt! If the past twelve months were less than stellar, you can still elect to frame up those events as a learning experience. Remember this counsel:
1) Remain true to yourself. Never compromise your values because of another person’s demands or expectations.
2) Let go of “mistakes”. You can’t change the past – only your response to it.
3) Don’t compare yourself to others. Pay tribute to your strengths.
4) Concentrate on positive thoughts. Low self-esteem is worsened by lack of focus.
5) Surround yourself with supportive people (those who teach or motivate you).
6) Make movement part of your day. “Exercise” will keep you strong.
7) Keep learning new skills. It’s self-empowering to gain mastery.
8) Avoid self-judgment. It exhausts you mentally.
9) Stay aware of what image you’re projecting to the world.
10) Overcome your fears. Take daily “baby steps” toward your goals/dreams.
I sincerely hope you draw inspiration from this list of confidence-enhancing suggestions. They’re intended to remind you of some key principles…Each thought creates action…Carrying emotional baggage creates disharmony and regret…Keep the adventures and challenges of your life in perspective…Do something every day that scares you.
As Henry David Thoreau is famously quoted:
“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavours to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”