Each morning when I wake up, I take out a little black book and write down my intention for the day. Some days I write two words, but most days you will see only one; happiness, joy, relaxation, patience. It all depends on how I feel in that moment and what I want to experience as I go through my day.
This exercise has become especially important to me for two reasons: 1) I know and understand that I am not in control of what happens in the world, and 2) it forces me to be present with myself and my needs every day. It is a way to commit myself to my experiences and it affirms that I want to experience my world in my special way. And as the world has turned upside down and right-side up, this has proven to be a tool that stabilizes and supports me to stay on top of my emotional intelligence. Not only has it given me the ability to respond to circumstances in a powerful way, it has helped me to stay on course with my projects and has gotten me unstuck when I wasn’t sure where to turn or how to move forward.
What is an intention?
An intention is a quality or state of consciousness that I experience at a given moment. It goes beyond a goal. It captures the way I want to feel while I am having an experience; a deep feeling that is constantly with me.
Let me give you an example.
I recently returned to Israel after a six-week trip to Germany. Before my trip, I set these four clear intentions for myself so that I could experience myself in a very specific way.
- Relax and take care of myself. This was my most important intention. I had an idea of what that meant, but many things presented themselves to me because I listened to my needs. On most days, I treated myself to a cup of coffee at a nice coffee shop. I paid close attention to my needs and responded to them when it was possible, which was often. I am a person who likes to push herself, so it was a nice change of pace to slow down and listen to the voice deep inside me.
- Enjoy. I wanted to enjoy myself in many different ways — with family, with myself, with my clients, being in my hometown. I was also open to enjoying myself in new ways. One of the unexpected joys I experienced was riding my brother’s bike all over town. I used to ride a bike as a teenager but didn’t really enjoy it because everything seemed so far away. I don’t know what changed, but I rode that bike all over town! I even found things to do so that I could go for a ride. I loved it! It was a way to relax and take care of myself, and enjoy myself in the process.
- Connect with family. This too was important to me, and I set a few specific goals to help get started. One of the most important tools to keep in mind when working with intentions is to understand that intentions cannot be forced. We can’t force ourselves to feel joy or be relaxed. Setting an intention means having a clear picture in your mind of how you would like to experience yourself, and then allowing it to happen. Setting goals will help create a platform for you to have experience. My goals for creating connections for the first week included visiting my mom; going to dinner with my brothers, and spending time with my cousin and his family. I wasn’t so specific about the actual activities. I trusted myself enough to know that I would figure out what to do when I got there.
- My major intention was to change my relationship with my mom, feel good about our interaction, and grow close. There is much I could write about, but instead I’ll just say how proud and happy I am to have accomplished all of this, and so much more. My intention now is to keep it going and to nurture the relationship.
Setting intentions for your business
Nearly thirty years ago I was introduced to the concept of intentions when I attended a personal growth seminar. The facilitator explained the difference between an intention and a method. In addition to being a state of consciousness, he explained that intention was also used to describe a goal. The method was described as a way to achieve this goal. It quickly became obvious to me that it was important to set intentions first before starting to take action. There are many times when we take action before knowing what we want. Too many people start moving toward a goal before knowing what they really want.
I recently coached a small business owner who was looking for ways to make more money. He decided to offer additional services to clients, and without much thought or research, added two new services and started to market them. At first glance, these services made sense because clients requested them, but he initially dismissed the idea because it didn’t seem profitable. Without taking the number of extra hours into consideration, he began to sell the new services anyway, thinking he would find a way to juggle everything.
Within a month the new services were taking off, but he was having trouble serving clients who wanted his old – and more profitable – services. In addition, he found himself working harder and longer hours, and had to hire someone to help service all the clients. With the new hire, his profit margin vanished, turning his new customers into a zero-sum game — with added worries and headaches.
When he came to me he was exhausted, frustrated, and confused. He didn’t understand why he had failed. Once I explained that he failed to set an intention, followed by a goal and a method, he understood his error. Together we worked on a solid business plan that was guided by intentions, values, and goals. Once these were clearly identified, we added methods and action steps.
So how can you use intentions to move yourself forward and get unstuck?
Intentions can be set in every part of your life. The clearer they are, the easier it will be for you to set goals and create the life you dream of living.
Ideally, intentions are set first, followed by supporting goals. Here are some examples:
Take some time to think about, and write about, the basic experience you would like to have each day. How do you want to feel when you get up in the morning, when you go to bed at night and review your day? Your answers will give you an understanding of the kind of life you want to live. If you want to feel relaxed, perhaps living in New York City, working on Wall Street, and having six kids is not for you. Once you have a clear intention, create small goals that will help bring them to life.
When you think about your business or career, stop and listen to your heart for a moment. What are you experiencing most days? Are you uplifted, or are you mostly frustrated and down? What kind of impact are you making? If the answers are positive, identify them. If you are not satisfied, sit down with a piece of paper and write about your intentions. It’s important to identify intentions in a positive way. It doesn’t work to have a double negative like “I don’t want to feel stressed.” It does work to have an intention of “ease and relaxation.”
In your relationship with your family/friends are you aware of your presence? How do people experience you? What’s it like for you to be with them?
Setting intentions is a constant process. I am progressing and evolving each day, and I am no longer the same. As I progress, I want to evaluate and reset my intentions – for my day and for my life – because I know it will bring me the experiences I want.
What are your intentions for your life?
Feel free to share them with me. I’d love to hear from you!
For the past 20 years, Dr. Barbara Schwarck’s mission has been to assist people to get unstuck and to change. To date, Dr. Schwarck, (CEO of Clear Intentions International) an award-winning, dual-certified coach with extensive academic training in Psychology, Management, Spirituality, and Kinesiology, has successfully coached more than 1000 CEOs, professionals, family businesses owners, and thought-leaders who want to be an effective leader, strong performer, clear communicator and/or difference-maker. In her private coaching practice, clients work with her on anxiety/depression, self-esteem, relationships, and/or personal growth.
Dr. Schwarck is also the creator of Neuro Emotional Coaching® a cutting edge coaching tool rooted in neuroscience, emotional intelligence, and its implication for leadership. And she is the author of From Intuition to Entrepreneurship: A Women’s Guide to Following Her Dream. If you are ready for a breakthrough, go to clearintentions.net.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]