“What you do with intention, you get what you want. What you do on accident you, get what you get.”
I love this statement. I’m not sure where I first heard it or if I made it up. Regardless, over the past few years, it’s become a recurring part of the conversation that I am having with my clients.
I think about it this way – whether it’s the last thing you think of at night or the first thing you think of in the morning, setting your intention(s) is critical to creating the day, the week, the year or the experience you want. When coaching others, I’ll often encourage my clients to set an intention on who they choose to be or what they want to achieve for the day. Some examples include:
- “Today, I choose to be present and connected with everyone I come in contact with.”
This is often my intention and it serves as my reminder that every interaction I have with others is important and makes a difference. For example, when ordering tea at my local coffee shop, rather than placing my order and moving on, I engage with the person who is taking my order. I’ll say things like, “It seems busier than usual today. How is this going for you?” The purpose is to intentionally connect with and see them as the human they are. I will often get a surprised smile, a “thank you for asking” and an honest answer. It makes a difference for both of us to connect, even for a minute.
- “Today, I choose to be courageous even if I am uncomfortable.” One client chose this as her daily mantra to help her engage in conversations with her manager and peers. Prior to our working together, she had a lot of ideas to share; however, didn’t often say anything because she felt like her voice wouldn’t be heard. By setting her intention, she moved past the discomfort and challenged herself to share ideas and perspectives. What came from this experience is, she was able to influence important product updates and outcomes for her organization. She now feels seen and valued for her opinion in the workplace, even if sometimes it’s uncomfortable to share. Not only that, she is also transforming her sense of confidence in all areas of her life.
- “Today, I choose to be curious and open to learning something new.” A client chose this statement to start each day. As a leader, this client was naturally judgmental, cynical, impatient and often frustrated. The impact of this was he didn’t feel connected at work with peers and his direct reports. By setting this intention, he was able to consider every experience he encountered throughout each day with a sense of curiosity, newness, and freedom. This shift created new ways for him to observe life, to learn new things, and has enhanced his relationships both professionally and personally.
- “Today, I will show up as a compassionate and caring leader.” One of my clients chose this as her daily intention because she had received feedback that she was perceived as dismissive and uninterested. My client was devastated with this perception and was committed to transforming how she was viewed by others. By setting this daily intention this client allowed herself to get to know those she worked within a manner that helped her learn to care about her employees. In turn, my client created more meaningful relationships with those she interacted with.
- “Today, I’m going to have a productive day. The things I commit to getting done are [create a list of things you know you can complete].” I find that most people start out the day with a list of things they need to complete (more than what is possible in one day) and then complete maybe one or two and feel completely let down or as they failed at something because they didn’t do everything they wanted or intended. When setting intentions for getting things done, I would encourage you to limit your self to the top three that are a priority for you. This way, those priorities are completed. And, then take a moment to celebrate/acknowledge what you did complete. And, from there look at what needs to be completed tomorrow and set your intention there.
If intentions aren’t set, whether due our being a little tired, lazy or distracted, our day will likely unfold on accident meaning we may not get what we want. In other words, if you don’t plan your day, you’ll get what you get.
However, I am also a believer that on occasion taking the day as it comes may work in our favor (think binge watching Netflix or becoming engrossed in reading an enjoyable book). However, if you are interested in becoming a better leader or partner, building a business, creating a new product or writing a book, none of those things will happen without proper planning and intention.
What is it that you long for or want in life? What intentions would you be willing to set to get what you want?
If you’d like to engage more in this conversation, connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.