Updated: Dec 27, 2022
It has been a while, hasn't it?
I know by being sporadic lately in writing and sending emails I am going against every rule in a marketing expert's book. I know my inconsistency doesn't bode well for any sort of successful branding. The thing is, I realised at some point in this journey of creating, discovering, writing, sharing, and building something for myself was that I wasn't building a brand, I was establishing a space where my voice could be heard. I wanted a safe space where I could be be honest about my life both with myself and with you. I didn't want to write and share things for sharing's sake. It had to mean something.
That was my intention from the very beginning when I started my site, first The Citrine Room and now, simply, the one that bears my name. It was my intention to share my thoughts, my experiences, my lessons, my perspectives so that I could start to understand myself better. If in doing so, one person would feel less alone or one person would feel understood then that was amazing because it would mean that actually, maybe I wasn't alone either. It was also my intention to have conversations that would mean something, not the endless drivel we often have to digest in a world of noise. That brings me to my point of this latest post: intention. It is a word that has been thrown around a lot in the last 20 years especially within the wellness space. But it was only recently where I sat down to think about what that word actually means.
The spiritual teacher Gary Zukav writes,"Your intentions are your nonphysical causes that set energy into motion. They create a multitude of effects and, therefore, determine the experiences of your life. This is one of the most important things that you can know." Your intentions...determine the experiences of your life. Non-physical causes--our thoughts, our values, our deep seated beliefs shaped by years of experiences and emotional education. Vocabulary.com defines intention as an"idea that you plan (or intend) to carry out. If you mean something, it's an intention. Your goal, purpose, or aim is your intention. It's something you mean to do, whether you pull it off or not." Here's the thing, there are two types of intentions, the one you consciously are aware of and the other that lies beneath the surface. It is the latter that directs our world. For example, if you were to say that you intend to finish a project or a plan but inside you don't believe in the project what results is an unfulfilling endeavour that was never intended to succeed.
When I was starting out in journalism, my intention was to be a reporter and I believed that that was what I was meant to do. I got a lot of rejection letters from television and radio stations where I applied. And boy, were there a lot. I even questioned if it was ever going to happen for me. But I didn't stop pursuing it because my belief, my intention, didn't present any other options. In my mind, there was no other way but to succeed. And I did. But I didn't know it at that time that it was my intention that was guiding me. Maybe it was the naïveté of being young. Maybe it was simply being focused on one thing--for better or for worse. You see, that's the thing about your intentions. They don't discriminate between good and bad, healthy or unhealthy, aware or not. Your life will simply respond to whatever it is that you give all your focus whether it is good for you or not.
Today, being much older, I know that in order to live life in a way that feels less of a struggle and more of a flow in many areas of my life, I must truly get honest about what my intention is for those areas of my life and why. We can have a singular idea of what we want to feel in life as a whole but it's the details in each area that will make the difference in actually achieving our goals. In every part of my life, from being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a coach, a business owner I have to ask myself some uncomfortable but important questions that get to the heart of what is motivating me to do something or to react to something (or someone) or to choose a path that I feel I need to walk.
Understanding my intention has become the foundation for me to truly observe and see myself in how I am and what I am doing that is getting in the way of my happiness or success. It isn't easy. It's frustrating. Even a seemingly normal argument with my husband is laced with intent and finding out what that intent really is not easy to digest. But it has enabled me to slowly feel like I am in control of my life and recognise what is directly my part and what isn't. Not everyone will respond positively to this kind of awakening. Many will feel uncomfortable when faced with someone who truly sees themself because it forces them to confront what they perhaps don't want to confront. But in my opinion, being conscious of why we do the things we do, well, there is no other way to live.
Having an intention isn't the same as being determined. An intention is perhaps the most basic and closest connection of energy we have to our most authentic self. It directs us, leading us in life down a path where we are actually creating every single moment of every single day. While it seems as though our life experiences and the opportunities that come our way are fate's design, we have more of a hand in our outcomes than we think.
Next time you set out on a mission, embark on an idea or project, engage with a friend or relative, or decide to change the course of your life, have a think about what your intention is, what you want your end goal to be. Perhaps that is how we should look at every area of our life--what is really our end goal? Again, our intentions are informed by what we know. They are often reactions to events and people that have shaped us--for better or for worse. So while we may think that we are living intentionally, our true intention behind all our decisions, our choices, our instincts, and yes, our reactions, come from deeply embedded beliefs even the ones we dare not say out loud. But that doesn't mean we are doomed to live with what we know. We can truly live with intention by changing our mindsets and how we think. The way to do that is to first understand why we believe what we believe. When we understand the origins of our value and beliefs we can then intentionally change them. When we dig deep into who we are and how we came to be the people we are, we gain a real and honest perspective of ourselves. And remember, we can't change what we don't know.
Here are some questions you can start to ask yourself. They are there as a guide to help you get to know your true intention behind everything you do:
- When it comes to work:
-What is your end goal? Is it success?
-What does success actually mean to you?
-How do you define success?
-Who or what are you succeeding for?
- In your personal life:
-What or how do you want to feel?
-How do you want to be seen and heard?
-What do you want to offer?
-What or who influenced your vision of what a good life looks like?
- With your health:
-How do you see yourself when you look in the mirror? And why?
-How was your view on health shaped or influenced?
-What habits do you partake in every day that either help or hinder your goals?
-Why did you choose those specific goals?
You can ask similar questions when you're in the midst of a disagreement with colleagues or even loved ones. Identifying your intention for the outcome could help shape how you argue. Julia Dhar, a world debate champion and behavioural economist talks about this in her TED Talk where she identifies three main ways to have an effective debate/discussion:
1) Choose curiosity over clash.
2) Treat discussions like a climbing wall not a cage fight.
3) Anchor in purpose (of the discussion).
It is the third point where your purpose and your intention will help carry you through these avenues. For example, in a marriage, when an argument occurs--and that is normal by the way--what makes it an effective form of communication as opposed to a no-holds barred shouting match, is when we take a breath to remind ourselves of what it is we are fighting about. Oftentimes, during those arguments old patterns and hurts rise to the surface. Oftentimes, the intention in an argument is simply to be seen and heard. When we know that, we choose our words carefully.
As we close out 2022 and prepare to welcome in 2023, I encourage you to think about your intentions moving forward. Not as a resolution (I don't believe in them) but as an active participant in your own life. When you become clear about your intentions (and the origins of your thought/belief systems) you can feel more empowered to change things that aren't working for you and work towards the life that feels right for you. We get back what we put out there so we have to be mindful of what it is we are actually putting out there. To quote Gary Zukav again, "To change the experiences of your life (for example, from angry to appreciative, or from fearful to joyful) requires becoming aware of the intentions you are choosing moment to moment, and the experiences you encounter, and then making the connections between your intentions and your experiences. The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power." Remember, our true intentions create our reality. Isn't it worth truly understanding what is driving us so we can take control of the wheel?
I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. Thank you for your continued support in this space. I appreciate each and every one of you. I look forward to more connections and sharing insights in the new year in the hopes that, at the very least, we our making our own worlds a bit better.