Pay attention to your intentions

Our intention creates our reality.
— Dr. Wayne Dyer

Yes, it’s that time of year. Did you set your New Year’s resolutions? If so, are you still on track to achieve them or have you already tucked them away in the back of the bedroom closet, as many people do every year?

Some people don’t bother setting them at all. Why should they? Chances are they are not going to follow through so, to them, it doesn’t make sense to take the time and energy to write them down.

There are lots of reasons people are unable to keep those resolutions. Maybe they are too busy and forget. Maybe the resolutions just aren’t that important. Maybe they are afraid of failing. Maybe they are happy with the way things are.

But you know what? Status quo is simply not an option. Changes happen. And, for the most part, you are going to influence that change whether you realize it—or like it—or not. In fact, it is all those big and small decisions you’ve made over the years that have brought you to where you are right now.

Live intentionally

If you avoid thinking about and setting down your intentions—whether it’s a mid-year goal, a New Year’s resolution or just something you’d like to accomplish with no real timeline—you are giving up your choice and freedom of becoming who you want to and could be. You think you are letting nature take its course. But you’re not. You’re just living unintentionally, kind of making it up as you go along.

You can start living intentionally by asking yourself this: If I already had the life I truly wanted, who would I be? How would I behave? Then, start acting the part.

By setting out what you want, you are setting the stage for it to happen. You live your life through the lens you put in front of you. If you set your intention on being kind, you will find kindness. It’s all about your mindset. And your mindset is something you can control. Whether you see abundance and joy, or scarcity and pain, is your choice.  

Most goals or intentions we set in the New Year fail because they are superficial, the just don’t have true meaning. They don’t stem from your real purpose. Once you know what you want to do, think about what you can do today, even if it is a very small gesture, that will get you there. When you do those little things consistently you will reap the biggest rewards. It’s who you are everyday that will bring purpose and results to your life.

Success comes from taking the initiative and following up... persisting... eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life?
— Tony Robbins

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I am always advocating for mindfulness—living in the moment. Research shows that being present in the moment, rather than fretting about the past or worrying about the future, is beneficial on many levels. I am not suggesting that you spend all your time thinking about the future and what you want to be or achieve. There is no conflict between setting out your intentions and mindfulness. Quite the contrary. When you know your goals, you can live your life both mindfully and intentionally.

Setting an intention does not mean that you are living in a future that doesn’t exist. It means that you are living in the present creating a better future for yourself. The biggest difference between living in an improbable future and living in the present is ACTION.

Presumably, you agree that living with intention—having a purpose—is a good thing. So, how do you become this best version of yourself?

Here’s what not to do (and what many people, despite the impossibility of it, try to do): change what is not within your control. If you try to do that, two things will happen. First, you will not find success. Second, you will be distracted from trying to change what you can control.

What do you control?  Lots, actually. How about your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitude? What about your personal integrity, your level of effort or how honest and kind you are? How about how often you show or tell people how much you care about them. What about your level of resilience, how you use your time, your tone of voice or how much (or little) you judge others?

The list goes on and on but it really boils down to just a couple of things: you control what you choose to think about and believe and what actions you choose to take. Outside of that, your sphere of influence is pretty limited.

For example, you cannot control others’ thoughts, feelings, opinions or mistakes. And you are certainly not in control of their actions.

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with my choices I actually control. Where, then, do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own.
— The Discourses of Epictetus, c. 108 AD.

So, start there. Know what you can control and put all your energy there.

Realizing that I am who I am, and I live where I live today as a result of the choices I made earlier in my life is very powerful—and sometimes, it’s a little scary. A lot of decisions didn’t feel like choices because I didn’t think about them that way. Looking back, however, my life could have gone a completely different direction had I made different decisions. Knowing this gives me the power to become more aware today, and realize that I have choices every day. I can do something that will bring me closer to my goals or not. It’s my choice—and my responsibility.

Now, your intention is set, and you’ve realized that you have the power to change it. It is your responsibility to get back in the driver’s seat and find out what you want to become this better version of yourself.

If you find it difficult to find the most compelling reasons surrounding what you want to change or what your purpose is, try to identify your biggest fears. Now, turn this into a positive goal. If you think you can’t do something because you are not experienced enough (or thin enough or tall enough or confident enough or old enough or young enough—pick your own adjective), you will be limited in your growth. It’s that very thought, that very self-defeating thought, that you want to tackle.

Now that you have done all that work, think about what you can do today to move forward. What can you do everyday that will get you closer to your goal? Don’t go a day without an action, no matter how small, to make it real. Live your life today as if you have already achieved it. What has changed? What do you notice about yourself that’s new?

Commit to intentional change

Commitment, too, is a choice. And it belongs to you.

Don’t give that freedom of choice away. Pay attention to your intentions. Look for support from those around you, whether it’s a friend, a family member, a co-worker or even (!) a coach. Maybe that should be your first action.

I wish you the very best on your journey. While you’re on that journey, why not drop me a line to let me know how you’re doing. I’d love to hear from you!