“Our intention creates our reality.” -Wayne Dyer
What exactly does it mean to live intentionally?
Intention can be defined many different ways. Essentially it is the energy, focus, or attention we give to a thought, belief, or situation. Often, we don’t realize where we are directing our energy or focus. Do you find yourself constantly thinking about a problem you’re having? Replaying a negative scenario that may or may not have happened? These are just two examples of the way we tend to focus our energies, our intentions without realizing we are creating our reality in the moment.
Before we can accomplish any action, there must be an intention. Yes, even in those cases where we get caught saying “Well that wasn’t my intention…” there was an intention for whatever action took place though we may not have been attuned to it at the time. In many cases, we go through life unaware of our intentions and the impact that they have on us and those around us. If we placed as much intention on what we want as we do on our doubts and negative thoughts, imagine how different our lives might be.
What are the benefits of living intentionally?
The benefits of beginning to live intentionally are endless. Here are just a few ways being intentional can improve your life:
More control over your time- Being intentional about how you spend your time allows you to a) realize where you’re spending (or losing) most of your time b) begin to choose where you want to set your intentions or focus on c) begin to align your time with your intentions.
More time on growing important relationships- Perhaps you’ve intended to focus on improving important relationships in your life. You’ll be more conscious about taking opportunities to connect or engage in activities that will strengthen these relationships.
Balancing energy drains with energy replenishers- We all have people and situations in our lives that take energy from us. Think about those interactions or activities that leave you feeling depleted when you engage with them. Setting an intention to become more attuned to your energy drains can help you choose to eliminate them or find new strategies for managing them by setting the intention to become more attuned to your energy replenishers. Set an intention to notice those activities or relationships that uplift, invigorate, and pour back into you. Once you become more aware of your energy drains and your energy replenishers, you can set an intention on creating opportunities to balance them.
Improved decision-making – Once you've begun to set intentions you can begin to make decisions in line with those intentions. If you're setting an intention to spend more time with your partner in the evenings, you'll be more apt to find ways to destress with your partner than say mindlessly playing games on your smartphone. Speaking of stress...
Reduced stress- Simply reaping the benefits of the aforementioned results can significantly help to reduce your stress. Once you have more control over your time, are building and maintaining strong positive relationships, incorporate more energy replenishers into your life, and are more conscientious about your choices and decisions you'll find new ways to be intentional about becoming aware of your stressors and your choices around managing or eliminating them.
How can I start living intentionally?
There are two simple exercises you can try to experiment with setting an intention. You can record yourself reading the directions and play it back or listen to this MP3 download to guide you through the exercise.
While you’re engaged in some type of movement (this can be exercise, taking a walk or getting up from the couch during a commercial break to grab a snack), STOP!
If you’re comfortable, close your eyes.
Take a few moments to notice your breathing and settle into the moment.
Envision your next move. Really concentrate on how you will move, where you will feel it in your body, the direction you intend to go in (backward, sideways, forward, etc.)
Open your eyes and move the way you just intended.
This may feel a bit awkward at first, but you set an intention and you moved in that direction. Take that idea and let’s expand it a bit for the second exercise.
Find a quiet and comfortable spot where you won’t be disturbed for at least 5-10 minutes.
Write down a goal that you have (try to make this as realistic and attainable as possible).
Close your eyes and start by focusing on the reasons why this goal is attainable and/or ways you can make it a reality. For example, if you’re focusing on relocating, some of the ways you can make this happen maybe by opening a savings account specifically for your move and beginning to deposit x amount of dollars each week or use the web to research potential job opportunities in this new location. Allow yourself to brainstorm the possibilities. Make a game of it and see how many ideas you can come up with.
Now imagine that you have achieved this goal. What’s happening in your scenario? Where are you? How did you get there? How do you feel? What’s your expression? Who is with or near you?
Go as deep into your scenario as you like. The more detailed you are, the more real it becomes for you.
Open your eyes and set 1 or 2 intentions for this goal. What are 1 or 2 things you can intend for yourself today to help you move in the direction of this goal?
The great thing about setting intentions is that they don’t have to be big or time-consuming. Setting an intention in the morning can be a powerful way to start your day. You may set an intention to be open to new relationships at work or to show more interest when your partner is sharing how their day went. Sometimes what we deem as “small” or “basic” can have the most profound impact on our lives over time. It’s also fun to reflect back on how our intention unfolded (maybe you found 5 minutes to talk to your new co-worker and realized you have similar interests or perhaps you learn something new about your partner that deepens your connection). Imagine how you can use that principle in your relationships, in your career, financially, etc.
If you'd like more information about how psychotherapy or coaching can help you set intentions for your life, please call me at 954-391-5305. I’m very excited to hear about the great things you are intending for your life right now! I'm dually licensed by providing counseling and coaching for individuals and families in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as well as New York City.