After 2 years of graduate school, six months of fieldwork in Occupational Therapy, 4 years of undergraduate studies, 5 years of working on a startup, 10 years of endless “to do’s” to get to the goal of “success, love, happiness, and moving near the ocean,” $124K in loan payments, various relationships, countless incredible and blessed friendships, many overturned bad habits, the creation of new productive habits, changed hairstyles, I finally figured out how to change my life.
And I wanted to share it with you!
The way to start to change your life is through Intention. The art and act of setting an Intention and aligning yourself with a higher priority than the ever-changing whims of the Ego.
(Disclaimer: I am going to bring this exact mindset from my personal life, into Occupational Therapy. My clients will have intentions, then action plans to reach intentions, not ‘goals’ [Except for reimbursement purposes] … )
What is an intention? I heard this advice 1.5 years ago: to stop setting goals and start with intentions. But, today, I heard it again from a new friend I made this year sailing in Charleston, and for some reason, I feel that I finally had a breakthrough with this concept. She is from Venezuela, and like me, spends her free time diving into meditation and psychology. Let’s dive into the word”intention” and how it really is the force behind changing your life.
Before we do: Shout out to Momentum Dash!
I started using Momentum Dash – a Google Chrome plug-in thanks to a C.S. nerd friend in college. The site asks me, “What is your focus for today?” It shares a nice quote about life and success at the bottom of the screen. I recommend it to friends, and now, to readers! Fair warning, sometimes I see my quote of the day on my new Crome tab, and I actually find myself getting mad at the author – depending on my mood. If I’m having a great day and the quote reflects my “awesomeness” it’s great. However, if I’m waking up late and anxious, and the quote is telling me that the early bird gets the worm (you catch the drift), I’m like f*** off.
Back to the point: INTENTIONS = INVOLVE FEELINGS > GOALS / ACCOMPLISHMENTS which involve the (EGO) I am convinced the ego is what screws up our lives. You are not the voice in your head. Damn it. You are the awareness of the voice in your head. When I learned this, I spent a lot of time getting mad at the annoying and automatic voice in my head. Who is that demanding, unsatisfied, talkative person up there?
If you focus instead on what your soul wants – the awareness – good stuff starts to happen.
What does my soul want? Versus: What does logic tell me to do? (Yes, many times we prioritize logic and reason over emotion, NEEDED. Humans are animals. So don’t get me wrong). However, let’s focus on aligning your life with intention for the purpose of this post.
Bottom-line is that for most people, if you feel a conflict between what lights up your soul, and what you spend about 80% of your day-to-day life doing, you are going to hit a breaking point. And all the reasoning in the world won’t help ya there…
Here’s a mind blowing fact – humans make decisions based on emotions. So all you rational, logical, mathematical minds, who reason your way through life… Well you are missing out on the X factor – the human factor. [Side note: I was a human factors major in college, so I love this stuff]. The X factor is how successful multi-billion-dollar companies are built, how people become leaders, it is about perception, how products sell, and how relationships that last a lifetime are formed. You don’t use your head alone here – your heart and your emotions drive choice. (If you are feeling connected to these ideas, having an “Ah Ha” moment, or understanding this blog post: read Start with Why ).
Before you start your day do the following (FIRST – drink water dude – you are dehydrated – wait a hot sec before chugging coffee). But then, seriously, think to yourself, “How do I want to feel today?” Better yet, do it the night before: “How do I want to feel tomorrow, this week, next week, this month, this year?”
It’s better to do this when you are grounded, clear-headed, and in a moment of tranquility then to try to set an intention and align yourself with your spirit when your spirit is telling you to buzz off.
BUT, here’s the thing – you can’t set an intention on things that you have to get done – like paying the bills, completing your homework assignments on time. If you did, the intention would be something like, “I feel weightless when completing necessary tasks, and grateful to be alive.” (We all know this is difficult to muster).
So, then, how do you balance life’s, “death and taxes” statements, bottom-lines, and necessities that we all have to check off the daily schedule, with your desire to feel free and joyful, elated and euphoric, or in love and prosperous?
Start with visualization. Then, feel the feeling associated with your vision. Make a list of words after you visualize the feeling. Perhaps you need to take a day to go center yourself before you can visualize what your heart wants, especially if you are stuck in an office or in a place in life where you feel lost or off-center.
Let me throw myself under the bus here. Here’s mine:
“I want to feel: Alive, organized, calm, clear-minded, free, peaceful, prosperous, intelligent, wise, loved, loving, with grace, aligned, respected, influential, inspired.”
Start the day doing something immediately that can center you on a feeling that you want to elicit at some point in the future. Pick one: Alive. So, I choose a run that morning if I have time.
Pick another: prosperous. So, I jot down some ideas for how to make extra money this year. Or, I simply clean out my wallet and focus on the feeling of abundance instead of lack.
What does it feel like to “have” and not to “want.” Can you feel abundant? If you cannot, or have experienced a great sense of lack (financially) in life, choose another object or thing that you have had (or currently have) in abundance (love, food, family, knowledge, books, any object, nature, friends) – Example: I have bananas right now. I feel like I could eat bananas all week. I feel the abundance of fruit on my counter. Start to visualize if you will, the feeling of abundance.
What is it that you want to experience this year? Write it down.
Why do you want it? Write down why.
What do you feel like when you picture yourself experiencing this?
What does it bring you (spiritually)?
No matter how much contrast exists between the life you are living now and the mental image you thought of, I promise you, that if you continue these exercises daily – and with repetition – you will move closer toward the visualization in your mind (your dream – and the feeling it elicits). You will start to attract things that move you in this direction.
Give yourself permission to shine. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5.