A Simple Practice To Help You Make Intentions You'll Actually Keep
So we’ve set our intentions for 2016 and we’re already off track. Am I right?
We were so resolute in our affirmations — so determined to start 2016 off right. And then we reached for a cookie instead of our gym shoes, tuned into E! instead of Headspace, and spent two hours trolling Instagram instead of hitting the pillow before 10 p.m.
In short, we (or our experiences) failed to live up to our expectations.
And therein lies the issue. Too many of us have been coached to set our intentions from the outside in rather than the inside out. We are more focused on achieving a result than a feeling.
As much as these externalized intentions may motivate us in the beginning, they are not sustainable. They loop us on a reward cycle and forever chain us to the future instead of rooting us in the present. This sets us up for failure. It leaves us forever judging ourselves for our inability to follow through or blaming the world for not delivering. So we find ourselves starting behind, propelled by negativity and a distaste for what is rather than an enchantment of what’s to come.
It doesn’t much matter what something looks like from the outside if we’re not experiencing it from the inside.
I've co-facilitated a New Moon Circle in Los Angeles for more than two years — an experience that's taught me that when we set intentions, we often fail to take two things into account: the underlying feeling we’re after and the effort and commitment required to maintain it.
We want things, experiences, and people based on the assumption that happiness will follow suit. We write lengthy, detailed descriptions of what we would like to call in, but we don’t ground them in the small daily affirmations and actions that will lead us there. And then, at the first setback, we are crestfallen and back at square one.
In order to create an intention you'll actually keep, you need to realize that it's the underlying feeling you're after, not the thing itself. We dream of a relationship because we know it would light us up inside. We crave a promotion to give us an increased sense of accomplishment and achievement. We commit to a daily yoga practice in the hopes of creating space while firming and flexing our bodies.
But what if we flipped the script and started with the intended result first? Because in the end, it doesn’t much matter what something looks like from the outside if we’re not experiencing it from the inside.
It’s the small steps, every day, that make up the entirety of our lives.
Imagine yourself in radiant health, fresh off a run or spin. Imagine yourself waking, rested and alert.
What does that feel like? Smell like? Taste like?
Lean into that. Let it marinate. Allow the feeling to fill you. And then set your intentions from that place, as though it’s already happening.
“I am gracefully finding myself glowing, fit, and strong every day” or “I am gracefully finding myself whole, as I deepen my intimacy with myself and others.”
This closes the gap between where we are and where we want to be without pressure or stress. We draw the internal experience in without needing to chase it. Our actions then become inspired actions, motivated by something deeper inside of us. And we realize that it’s the small steps, every day, that make up the entirety of our lives.
Try this exercise today and see where it takes you. You may just find yourself on that daily run this year after all.
Photo courtesy of the author