There was a comment posted by a reader (David) on my last blog, Sabotage and Persistence. David writes:
What you have referred to in your post is the difference between holding the intention of sabotage, or any other possible intention in another direction. We have the ability to make our world different at any time with a new intention. If you choose to hold the intention of disaster, that’s what will happen.
I’d like to add that I don’t think people necessarily know they are choosing to hold the intention of disaster. Some people have been on auto-pilot for so long, they never stop to think about intention at all. In the words of Ernest Holmes, “Practically the whole human race is hypnotized because it thinks what somebody else told it to think.”
It might take some time to grok how much shift you create when you decide to choose a different intention. (Okay, so my spell check doesn’t mind “Oprah,” but it underlines “grok.”) So, in the spirit of not giving attention to things like “sabotage,” “messing up,” and “disaster,” here are 10 Ways to Set a Powerful Intent for yourself.
1. Decide who you want to BE.
Before thinking about what you want to do or what you want to have, ask yourself who you want to be. If, like I wrote about in the last post, you feel like you have sabotaged your every attempt at living the life you want, then step back from that and decide to be different. Be gentle. Be wise. Be someone who is creating a great life or a better career or financial health. (Or, if you’re just beginning this stuff, just be willing to be kind to yourself.)
About six years ago, I took some time off from the road because this singer-songwriter chick-on-the-road thing was exhausting. During that time, I decided that I wanted to be happy, in addition to being a performing songwriter. Part of being happy meant that I had to decide how I was going to show up in the world. Who I wanted to be. Not what.
I chose to be 1] inspiring (because it was the inspiring people who had gotten me to change my life), 2] encouraging (because so few people in my life had been genuinely encouraging to me that every time I was with someone who said, “Of course you can do this!” without fear or warnings, I would just bask in their belief), and 3] healing (because the best reason to do anything is to serve other people, even if it’s when I’m on stage telling a story about my travels and people are laughing. Healing has many faces. I want to be one of them). I have a few other intents as well, but this is the core of it.
I also had to include myself in those intents. I had to be encouraging to myself. I had to include my own healing in that equation. Being it doesn’t mean just sending it out. Include yourself in the intent equation.
Does this mean that I succeed in inspiring, encouraging and healing all the time? Not at all. But that guideline has brought clarity to how I show up in my career and in my day.
2 – Write your intent. State it aloud to yourself often.
This may sound so very un-cool and un-hip. (I’m a musician. These things matter, you know.) But here’s the question – Do you want to be cool? Or do you want to be happy? (You can be both, I guess. But from the looks of things on iTunes, being cool requires getting way pissed off.)
I state my intent to myself before I walk on to any stage. It’s kind of like telling my ego, “Okay, here’s what’s gonna happen when I get out on to the stage. So why don’t you stay here in the dressing room and play with the mascara while I perform? I’ll be back soon.” And it works.
It used to be that my ego would tag along saying, “Oh brother. I gotta see this.” And throughout the show, she’d be there over my shoulder saying, “Hmm. Not so inspiring there when you missed that chord.” Or “Healing? Which part? The part where your voice cracked or the part where no one laughed at your joke?” I stayed with it. My ego eventually came less and less on the stage with me because I stopped paying attention to her.
Grab some index cards. Write down your intent. Post them everywhere. Read them aloud, especially when you’re tempted by old limited thinking. This works. Believe me.
4 – Monitor your thoughts.
That’s all. You don’t have to make it a big thing and tighten all your face muscles in hard concentration all day, listening to your thoughts, and then beating yourself up for forgetting to listen to your thoughts, and then beating yourself up for beating yourself up for forgetting. Just decide now. And then decide again. Watch your thoughts and witness how often you move into worry, anxiety, fear, and negativity. For now, just gently notice it. These are the thoughts that unconsciously send you out of your intent. At first, it’s enough to notice them. If you’re especially motivated, you can add affirmations when you hear yourself worrying or saying bad things.
5 – Watch your Language
This goes hand in hand with watching your thoughts. Only it’s easier. Here’s some ideas:
- Use AND instead of BUT. “But” dismisses the statement before it. “And” includes it. For instance, “That’s a good song, but it needs some editing” isn’t nearly as encouraging as “That’s a good song, AND it needs some editing.”
- Be careful with “never” and “always.” Never and always are words of hysteria. “I always screw everything up!” “I’ll never figure this out!” First off, it’s not true. (If you always screwed everything up, you wouldn’t have made it out of the womb.) And second off, extreme words are designed to hook you in. It’s just your emotions taking a joyride.
- Should is a crappy word. It makes you a victim. Choose instead “I am choosing to,” “I would like to,” or “I don’t want to.”
- Stop calling yourself depressed, and stop allowing anyone to tell you that you are depressed. A friend of mine said to me recently that she loved that I never called her depressed. I was the only person who had refused that word to describe her. It helped her to get off anti-depressants. I’m not militant about this. I just think that life has it’s ups and downs, and that we’re meant to feel emotions, not judge them and then suppress them. Experiment with not using the word “depressed” when referring to yourself.
- Delete the word “hate” from your vocabulary. I don’t care if you’re talking about war, politicians, the food at Sonic, (holymotherofgod, how do people eat there?!) or the businessmen who shout into their cell phones on the airplane as if we all need to hear their latest idea. When you say the word hate, you give that thing a lot of energy. Also, you deplete your own energy, as “hate” is a powerful word.
- When people ask you how you’re doing, try this for a week: Say “I’m great!” I used to think if I told people I’m great, I had better have a damn good reason for saying it, like I just won the lottery or something. I thought it would make me look suspicious, and people would start to wonder if something was wrong with me. But then I did it. And you know what? Most people don’t really care why you’re great. You’re saying it for you.
7 – Move out of therapy thinking and into forward thinking.
Therapy is and has been a great help to many of us, AND it can be easy to get stuck in seeing yourself as flawed. It’s a habit. Therapy thinking says, “I have to get it all fixed before I can move on to better things.” Forward thinking says, “What would happen if I acted in spite of how I’m feeling about my life, or my capabilities?”
When it comes right down to it, we’re all complete train wrecks. Have a little celebration about your own train-wreck-ed-ness (invite the rest of us too), and then move forward, take actions, and learn that it is possible to function well without having figured it all out.
8 – Stop complaining.
I know. It’s hard. But try it. One of my favorite tenets of coaching is, “I make requests rather than complain.” I travel a lot, so I see a lot of complaining out there. I’ve decided that people would rather complain than ask for what they want. You don’t have to get attitude-y, just ask for what you want. For example: “Would it be possible to eat somewhere other than Sonic?”
Go one step further. Go on a complaining fast. Simply do not allow yourself to complain about anything for one day. No bitching. No whining. No moaning. See what happens.
9 – Get a friend or co-worker to start a “holding intent” partnership.
It is so much better when you have an encouraging partner to help you in this work. Email this post to a friend (click on the link at the bottom of this post) and try a one month experiment of being each other’s encouraging voice. Here are the ground rules to this partnership:
1. Let each other know your intents at the beginning of the month.
2. Remind each other of that intent throughout the month.
3. Put a five-minute limit on whining. After any whining session, the whinee must make the whiner repeat their intent aloud, and commit to one small action step to shift the aformentioned whining energy. The whiner then must call the whinee when the promised action is complete.
4. Help each other watch your language.
5. Call or email each other with little (and big) victories.
6. Celebrate at the end of the month. Rinse. And repeat the next month.