Set intentions at the start. When you start your day, or any meaningful activity, check in with yourself and ask what your intentions are for the day or that activity. Do you want to be more present? Do you want to move your mission forward? Do you want to be compassionate with your loved ones? Do you want to practice with discomfort and not run to comfort? Set an intention (or three) and try to hold that intention as you move through the day or that meaningful activity.
~ Leo Babata
Long ago—maybe ten years?—this idea of setting intentions made a huge impact on my life. I’ve talked about first learning the twin skills of self-awareness and self-assessment as the first steps on my journey. Once I began developing those skills, I was able to begin setting intentions and that lead to the long period of growth I’ve recently been experiencing.
But there’s a problem, or at least there’s a problem for me. Once I started down the road of setting intentions I’ve fallen prey to a vicious cycle. Practicing continuous improvement by setting intentions and assessing progress makes me focus forward, treating my intentions at targets before me. I used to think the “focus forward” part of that was a good thing. After all, it clearly has led me on a long journey of improvement.
I set good intentions which force me out into my un-comfort zones and it turns out that I usually don’t quite reach the goals. If I do reach a goal, then I realize I could have set a better goal by stretching for a farther intention. In that way, every assessment ends up reporting that I fell short, didn’t make it, didn’t live up, didn’t achieve, didn’t succeed, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t… and that leads to a dark place.
Recently I’ve been more intentional about what intentions I set.
(That’s a red flag right there; I’m still intentions based.)
None the less, I’ve been trying to set easier-to-achieve intentions so that I can check off more wins. I find this very hard to do since it feels like artificially lowering the bar so I can cheer-lead myself away from the dark place. Worse, this is still looking forward and assessing progress made towards goals.
I wonder what would happen if I could manage to turn around, make progress towards the goals, (they now being behind me,) while staring back at the INSANE MOUNTAIN OF AMAZING THINGS I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED?
Maybe I should try that for a while?