We live in a society where success is equalled with the ability to set and meet big goals. So for years, I set goals, and very hard tried to meet them. That has proven to be an interesting be it not very effective experiment. Focusing on a goal is like looking through a tube, it creates constricted awareness. A narrow perspective tends to lead to an inflexible mind, which sees problems rather than opportunities and is resistant to anything that is outside of its scope. Setting big goals is imposing preconceived ideas on a future that is not only unknown, but unknowable. However big the goal may be, it is a very limited way of looking at Life.
Goal-setting is a great tool when you’re training to run a marathon or organizing an event, but it doesn’t provide much help when navigating the unpredictable course of our lives. Intention-setting is the new goal-setting. Intentions aren’t specific, measurable, attainable, relevant or time-bound. Intentions are fuzzy, and that is what makes them so perfect in this ever more rapidly changing world. When setting an intention you define a desired direction and you let go of the result. Setting a direction gives a lot of options to choose from, the freedom to explore different routes and it leaves the destination open. You enjoy the ride, and feel free to stop to at the view point sign, unbothered by where you are going to end up. Where goals are about taking action, about ‘have to do this’ and ‘need to go there’, intentions are about changing your state, about ‘love to do this’ and ‘want to go there’.
Setting an intention is like using a compass. True North is your vision, and the needle pointing is the state that aligns you with your vision. Your intention is the space where your vision and your beliefs meet. For example, it is my vision to live my best life, whatever that may be. It is my belief that Flow, my connection to Source, is the gateway to living my best life. Flow is the state that aligns me with my best life. My primary intention reads ‘Nothing is more important than that I feel good.’ which helps me find the sweet spot on most days through remaining centered and focusing on joy, and on days that I am not in the vincinity helps me get closer and closer to it through a sustained focus on things that make me feel better. Of course there are days when I am so far from the sweet spot that I don’t even get near, but looking back my happiness setpoint has been steadily rising and the quality of my life getting increasingly better ever since I set the intention.
I have been applying the power of intention successfully in most areas of my life, but was blind to it when it came to anything work-related. In that area, I was still struggling with the idea that I had to take massive action and meet goals. In the past year, I had already figured out that this didn’t work for me, as even the smallest of goals got my stress levels so high that I would freeze, yet I was unconsciously still beating myself up for not being able to meet them. Last week I realized that the belief that I need goals to be successful is keeping me from living my best life. It was as if a light bulb went on, and as always when that happens I just can’t understand how I did not see it before.
All I need is to do is let my curiosity and excitement flow freely in whatever direction they go, dare to be obsessed and dare to be equally uninterested. It is not about the result, it is about the process. As of this week, it is my intention is to create anything I am drawn to just for the pleasure of exploring. Whether it be through paintings, texts, photos, my daughter’s room, our garden, or something I have no concept of yet. It is in creating that Life flows through me like a fast-flowing torrent. Life will find it’s way through me, perfectly, when I just let it. I don’t know how, and, at this moment, I don’t care. All I have to do is let go of any preconceived idea of what it means to create, trust that Life will lead me somehow, someway, and find more ways to feel good. And, it is in exploring ideas and means of expressing them that I feel best. Well, what do you know!
photo by Patrick Hajzler