So, I’m an eternal learner. I love learning and growing and discovering the perspectives of others.
My column is essentially about the lessons I learn every day. That being said, over the last few months, I’ve been learning about affirmations and how they train the mind to think and feel and behave in certain ways.
I always thought that affirmations required me to stand in the mirror and shout, “I am awesome!” and “I’m a winner!” The thought of doing that was hysterical, but ridiculous to me. Thankfully, I got beyond my own inhibitions and opened my mind to learning more. I learned that affirmations are nothing more than intentions. And an intention is a word that holds immense power, which brings me to the first lesson that I learned about intention:
1. The word intention is defined as “An aim or plan.”
Simply put, when you set an intention, you set a goal. When we know what we are aiming for, we can articulate the path to get there.
The issue is that all too often, we don’t do it. Instead, we sail through our lives with a Starbucks in one hand and a device in the other, whilst checking our steps on the Apple Watch… heads are down. Our lives are moving along, and we are just going with the flow unconsciously.
Sure, maybe we have a few ambitions, but we haven’t actually made any kind of commitment to get there. Will we reach it? Eh, guess we’ll see. We act as though we’re just a product of our environment… without intention; which brings me to the second lesson I’ve learned about intention:
2. Intention always produces a stronger outcome, no matter what the circumstance is, but you must be specific about it.
If you set a crystal clear intention, whatever result comes of it will inevitably come stronger and be more intense. Interestingly enough, the definition of intense (which is derived from the same word as intention) is “of extreme force, degree, or strength.”I finally decided to take the plunge into affirmations by simply setting a clear intention of the KIND of person I wanted to be as a leader on that specific day. It seemed pretty easy to me. The first thing I needed to do was ask myself some important questions: What was it most important for me to be, as a leader and why?
I thought and thought until I felt confident in my answer: That day, it was most important for me to be “cheerful and helpful.” I needed to be full of cheer to raise the energy level of my team and keep them joyful and productive. Happy people work better, and leaders set the tone of the organization.
Cheerfulness is key. I also needed to be helpful. I can, all too easily, get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, fires, and projects and completely forget that my primary job is to lead my team to success and profitability. Their success and profitability come from me being as helpful as I can be in my role. So, I set my first intention early in the morning and then went off to my day.
As I sat down in my favorite nighttime, decompression, please-give-mommy-five-minutes-of-peace chair, I was stunned at how many clearly defined times I had made a conscious effort to be both helpful and cheerful that day. It began with an intention and translated into reality.
Every time one of my team members walked in my door, I actively looked to be cheerful and helpful, even when I didn’t feel like it. It was clear by the mood of each team member that my intention was spilling over onto them. The energy was changed.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If I had just gone about my day, I would have missed out on those opportunities and who knows what kind of effect my being helpful and cheerful had on the rest of someone’s day and the future of my business. It happened with intensity and ferocity. I was fiercely helpful and cheerful. Can you imagine being that?
I want to be that every day. I began using “intention” everywhere- in my marriage, my parenting, my yoga practice, my work, my social media, etc. and that is when I discovered lesson 3 about intention.
3. Clear intention will change your life.
I love semantics, so bear with me on all of the definitions this week, but the second definition of intend is “design.” Have you ever heard the saying, “Live your life by DESIGN, not by DEFAULT?” Intention is the deciding factor in that. You can choose to live the life of your dreams by being intentional about:
What you want.
Why you want it and what it changes when you achieve it.
What it will take to get there.
But then you must INTEND on doing it, and go do it. Don’t let your life be lived flippantly by default, where you allow whatever life throws at you to smack you around and change your trajectory. To “intend” is to “design.” You have the power to design your life simply by making clear intentions.
Suppose you want to get better at golf. Setting an intention might look something like this:
I intend on getting my game to Even Par. I intend to get my game to Even Par because I will feel more confident when playing with my friends or colleagues and will feel proud of myself for committing to and achieving my goal. It will take practicing X times per week, meeting a trainer X times per week, paying special attention to my spouse and kids, since I’ll be taking time away from them to practice more, etc., etc.
Once you set your clear intention, watch out, world. The simple act of speaking out loud what you intend to be, do or have will change your life dramatically. Open your mind a little bit and give it a try. I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines. Until next time, Shore Locals, I am sending you peace, love, and good vibes!