Here are a few stories I wrote with the “intention” of getting your “attention.”
Caroline has gained weight, and as a result, she feels lethargic, self-conscious, and uncomfortable in her clothes. She has dieted before, only to relapse. This time, however, she’s motivated to do the work necessary to look and feel her best and has committed to alleviating processed foods from her diet, with few exceptions. She knows that this, as well as a few other dietary changes, will foster confidence and energy to truly enjoy life with her friends and family.
Chris wants to do better in school. Under the weight of huge expectations and sub-par results, he has sought professional support to help him focus his attention and energy in a thoughtful and productive direction. He’s not sure whether law school is a realistic aspiration at this point, but knows he wants to strive for more than his current trajectory. He has taken the first step and is ready to do the work.
Cynthia has felt unfulfilled and out-of-sorts since her youngest child left for college in September. She recognizes that in order to be happy, she must re-create structure, meaning, and purpose in her life as she transitions to an empty nest. She has begun journaling each evening and networking with others who have successfully navigated these waters before.
This is the common but invisible thread that connects these three people: Each person has actually declared an intention, rather than wistfully wishing for things to be different.
“Conscious change is brought about by the two qualities inherent in consciousness: attention and intention,” (Deepak Chopra, Seven Spiritual Laws of Success) “Attention energizes, and intention transforms. Whatever you put your attention on will grow stronger in your life…. Intention, on the other hand, triggers transformation of energy and information. Intention organizes its own fulfillment.”
When you declare an intention, you focus attention and gain the support of your subconscious mind. Here are some suggestions for how to work with intentions in order to transform your life.
• What do you want?
Many of us know what we don’t want (the status quo, extra pounds, anxious feelings), but have no idea what we do want, much less why! The hours turn to days, days to weeks, and the status quo persists, unless we identify and create a new road, a different trajectory.
Ask yourself how your life will be if you do not change. Then imagine what your ideal life looks like. What is the difference? What is the smallest thing you could change that would make the biggest difference today?
• Imagine it happening.
“Your imagination creates the inner picture that allows you to participate in the act of creation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention)
Imagine yourself 20 lbs. lighter, in a different career, or with a more structured workday. How would you feel? How might your life trajectory be different? How would your relationships benefit?
It is just as important to imagine potential obstacles as it is to imagine your personal transformation actually happening. By imagining triggers for undesirable behaviors, you can develop a plan to respond intentionally when temptation and challenges assert themselves.
• What are you already doing right?
Make a list of the healthy habits that will support you through this change process. These may include supportive relationships, proper nutrition, good sleep, and/or regular exercise. Don’t let new habits compromise these old ones.
• Get out of your head, and commit to specific action. Write down what you are going to do, then do it. Intention isn’t about sitting back and waiting for it all to come to you. “Hope” is not an action. Our intentions are realized through a series of small steps over time
Caroline committed to writing down everything that she ate for three days in order to highlight her habits; Chris has added a two-hour study block to his schedule each school day, guaranteeing 10 additional study hours per week; Cynthia began working with a coach to redirect her attention to opportunities for growth and contribution as she transitions into her next stage of life.
• Surrender control of what you cannot control. It’s harder than it sounds. When you let go and trust that you cannot control everything, you learn to funnel your attention to your personal growth and change process. Struggles exist but your intention provides focus, light, and purpose to your journey.
Be well/Live well.