I got up a little later than planned this morning, looked at my calendar, and started to spin into that familiar story:
There’s so much to do!
There’s not enough time!
It’s going to be sooo stressful!
But rather than allowing my day to unfold in a whirlwind of panic, I caught myself and opted for a different story — one where I remembered that time expands when I slow myself down and trust myself to get things done.
THAT story allowed me to sit down and breathe, sip some salted caramel flavored coffee, and make a few strategic decisions about how to tackle my meetings and projects as efficiently as possible before I eased into my to-do list. It was a much smoother and more grounded way to start my Monday, and I still managed to take care of what mattered.
For the last several years, I’ve been practicing the art of living from intention — or being more conscious about my desired energetic state. While it hasn’t prevented stress and other unpleasantries, it has minimized them and made them much less taxing to deal with when they do arise.
The approach for living from intention is simple:
Tune in to how you desire to feel.
Use these desired feelings as your daily compass.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 over and over.
For example, say you’re sick of feeling “frazzled” and would like to feel more “calm.” You start holding that intention as you determine your plans and move through your day, asking, “what would feel calmer to me?” or “how could I create more calmness in this moment?” At first it feels impossible to change anything, but upon closer examination you realize that one of the commitments you’ve crammed into your agenda can be postponed. You then take that time and block it off as breathing room — a lunch break, a short walk, a few minutes with a book. Before long, you find yourself in a habit of building more space into your day proactively.
When you’re suddenly stuck in traffic and getting madder by the minute, you actually notice your shift away from calmness. Instead of continuing to stew about the unfair disruption to your routine and charging yourself up with an attitude that will spill out into everything you do from there, you remind yourself that you can’t change it, take a deep breath, make a (safe, hands-free) phone call to alert necessary parties to your delay, and welcome the unexpected opportunity to rock out to some favorite tunes.
Working with intentions is a helpful way to acknowledge that you can’t control everything that happens in your life, but you can always control how you choose to interact with it. And, perhaps most importantly, you can always choose again.
It’s putting this into regular practice that’s challenging. Even if you succeed in staying grounded in your intention for short stretches, those metaphoric “traffic jams” pop up to convince you what you’re asking for is just too much.
But when you can keep coming back to what you’re asking for anyway — that’s where the real magic transpires.
OVER TO YOU . . .
What intention would you like to lead with for the next week or two? Tell me in the comments.