Hearing the alarm, snoozing a couple of times, finally getting out of bed. Still half-asleep, going through your short and hasty morning routine, starting to work. Running around all day long, work, errands, errands, work. Stressing out with dinner, crashing on the couch, binge-watching stuff on Netflix. Going to bed exhausted and not looking forward to tomorrow. Is this life on autopilot the best you can get?
I know it’s not — you are worth much more, and you have the power to have more. You can live your life out loud. We, humans, are creatures of habits. We do many things automatically, without putting much thought in them. That’s a great feature, without it we would go nuts and not manage much. Yet there are things in life worth our attention, and it is essential to practice bringing awareness into them. You can do your work on autopilot, but imagine doing it with intention aligned with your values and long-term goals. You can have conversations with your partner while scrolling Insta feed, but wouldn’t it feel more fulfilling nurturing deep connection through a full presence in your dialogue? You can play with your kids and meanwhile think about what to make for dinner, but how about actually enjoying the joyful moment full of giggles?
Bringing intention in the activities and human interactions can make a huge shift in your energy levels, your productivity, and make you feel much happier with your days. And you know the best thing of all? It doesn’t take much of your time to do so! Sure, setting intentions require some practice, just as any new habit. But the ritual itself takes not more than half a minute. That’s a practice that will give you a huge return on investment.
Here are some tips on how to get going and tricks for your practice:
— It doesn’t have to be complicated with intention. Simply think “what” and “how”. What do you want to achieve from this activity or interaction? How do you want to be in it? For example, before writing this blog post, my answers were: I want to inspire my readers for action and simplify the process by sharing a few simple tips. While writing the post, I want to be focused and keep my readers’ needs in mind. To help me stay focused and provide value with the text, I created a short outline of the post, switched off the internet and hid away the phone. Now, with no distractions and a structure in front of my eyes, I can get the most out of this activity.
— Sometimes you might feel a lack of creativity with what the intention should be, or you set something that you should be willing to do, even if you don’t want that. Try to be honest with yourself and see this practice as a help for yourself – not anything you do to please someone else. For example, you of my coachees was setting an intention for the day to be focused. When I asked why, she said she was used to being focused, and that’s what her colleagues and she expect from her. “Do you WANT to be focused these days?” I asked. She didn’t. All she wanted was to enjoy the day and take it as it comes – without too much planning and strict agendas. After our discussion, she permitted herself to be willing to enjoy her days, and her energy levels increased dramatically, while the days remained productive but also became fun.
— Start with your morning. Learn to set an intention for the day. You can do it while still in bed, or the shower, or while brewing your coffee. Think “How do I want to live this day?” and “What do I want to get out of it?” Spending a moment to answer these two questions will set your mind to guide you through your day. It doesn’t mean you will be perfect just because of that morning thought, but with practice, your brain gets used to having better focus on desired outcomes.
— Identify several areas of your life that often drain you on energy or bring a feeling of dissatisfaction or regret. These should be your focus areas with setting intentions. If preparing presentations at work is something that takes too much of your energy, think of the “what” and “how” when you sit down to create your next slide deck. Let’s say your goal is to get the message through, then maybe you don’t need to spend hours on the design of the slides. Focus on the content and its clarity instead. If communication with your spouse brings all the negative emotions, set an intention before your next conversation, be it “stay calm while we talk” or “I want us to understand each other’s point of view this time”.
— At the end of the activity, take a moment to reflect on whether your action was aligned with the intention. This is not a blame-game! You are doing this to learn and get more joy out of life. Practice asking yourself meaningful questions and give honest answers. Exercise accepting those answers without judgement and acting accordingly as a way to show self-love.
So, when you switch off the autopilot today, what would your first intention be?
With all my love and care,