Saturday, October 8, 2016

Setting Sustainable Intentions

good intentions

I wonder if the person who said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions thought a lack of intending to do right was a wiser option? I'm sure he was trying to make a point about those who mean to do things but never follow through, but dissing intention in the process is a bad move. I attend a yoga class where the instructor, at the beginning of class, encourages us to set a small intention for that day's practice. It can be anything, like focusing more on our breathing. We are going to breath anyway, right? Why focus on it? It is certainly something we do unintentionally every moment of our lives. But focusing on it, doing it with intent, gives it power.

Did you get that?

Focus + intent = power.

Technically power = work (for our purposes let's say strength) over time. But hey, this isn't a physics lesson. Seriously, who wants a physics lesson on Saturday?

We often hear people say that they don't have time for things. They don't have time to read, or exercise, or spend time in prayer and meditation. Yet we all know incredibly busy people who do all these things amid their hectic schedules. How?

They intend to.

Go back to the actual formula for power and notice it is work over time. Drawn out, kept at, committed to. Sustainable.

Too often we let the day unfold without any real plan. We are driven by someone else's schedule. We are manipulated by the needs of others who often need help or find themselves in dire straits because of their own lack of intention. We become slaves to the urgency of right now. Oddly enough we can still find time to watch hours of banal television programming, "like" every silly meme on Facebook, or watch one cute animal video after another on Youtube. It is a fact of life that you will find time to do the things that are important to you. The problem may be that we haven't ever sat quietly someplace and thought about what those things are. Everyone says they want sound friendships, to be healthier, to have less stress.

What are you doing about it?

Let's back up. What do you intend to do about it?

For years while I was home-schooling my children, along with all the other things that were on my daily to-do-list, there was an hour or two (depending on how busy the day was) devoted to reading. I read all the classics aloud to them, but also read a plethora of self help, biographies, and history. People often commented on the amount of books I read. How did I do it?

I intended to.

I made it a priority, cordoned off the time, and guarded it carefully. I thought it was just as important for my children to have a well read mother as one who cooked and cleaned. My children and I remember those times as being among the happiest and most memorable parts of their childhoods. So my intentions had unintended benefits. We generally hear the Law of Unintended Consequences used in reference to negatives. Just as often though, good things beget other good things. Things we may not have thought of and some we may forever be unaware of. Our best intentions and action plans may not always bring about the positive change we want and even with "the best laid plans" our road may take unexpected twists and turns we might not have foreseen and divert our energy and focus temporarily. But not having our intentions set is almost a guaranteed fail.

Adding an intention to your day is simple. You can do it the night before as you get ready to fall asleep, in the morning while meditating, or while showering. It would be great if we could live each moment with intention and mindfulness but in this series we are looking for sustainable change. Moment to moment intention is too vast of a space to start.

So set an intention for today. It can be anything, but for us, we are choosing something sustainable. I give you permission for your intention not to be to run a mile or avoid sugar all day. Maybe you would like more wisdom, compassion for others, to radiate grace. Tomorrow you can set another intention or decide to practice the same one again. You can choose anything that you believe would enrich and empower your life and the lives of those you come in contact with.

That might seem daunting, but remember we are only doing it for today. You might want to set a couple of reminders on your phone or put up a post-it note to help refocus you during the day.

Did I mention our baby steps have baby steps?



  1. Baby steps on my baby steps. I intend to do more yoga. Today I pulled out the mat and enjoyed every blessed minute. I used to do a full hour at the club but now my time has been cut in half, so the recumbent bike gets the half hour. But my body isn't happy without yoga so I intend to do it right after meditation. BTW, I am receiving much from your daily posts. Thank-you for the intention to write every day.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. I love yoga and maybe after this writing challenge is over I can make getting back to a regular class my intention.

  2. This is so good. I need to re-read this a few more times.

    1. Me too! And I wrote it! LOL So many of the things I'm writing about this month are ongoing challenges and I just feel like we all need some encouragement and permission not to be perfect or have it all together. Thanks so much for sharing!


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