Intention Setting is for the Birds

As embarrassing as it is to announce to the world, I’ve never understood the obsession with intention setting. I’ve consumed all of the media that a practitioner of IFS and Energy Psychology techniques should, and I still never have felt a real connection to any sort of outcomes associated with it. Sure, I’ve had tons of fun making vision boards and talking with friends about big-picture goals, and exploring with many (myself included!) about what we want out of life. But I’ve never understood the practices of setting an intention and letting it work its “magic” in my life. 

Until recently. 

By happenstance I drew this card. And while I don’t think that oracle cards or any other cards, gadgets, etc., have the power to ‘tell me’ my future, I do find their power to encourage reflection helpful. While working through the questions that this card prompted me with, I ended up writing down what I want out of my life in all of the regular domains; work, study, relationships, health, finances, all of the things. I also wrote down what fears and barriers that show up when I think about moving towards them, as well as what motivates me to try. This practice wasn’t novel, I’d done it before in many different renditions, but I found it nice to write it all out and when I set down my journal I also agreed to let those reflections simmer over a few days. 

A few days later…

I found myself in three different, completely organic conversations with people around the very content that I had written down in my ‘intentions’. These folks in my life didn’t know about what I had written down; no one even knows I did this practice (besides you all, now). And the conversation wasn’t just a small coincidence… the content wrapped around the very parts of my ‘intentions’ that I didn’t know how to bring into working order. The parts that I was completely stumped over and had left me with big feelings of stuck-ness for so much of the past few years. Over the span of a few hours the amount of progress I was able to make in aligning my life with my deep inner self is still shocking, even as I’m writing about this right now. 

If anything outside of wonder and excitement, this exercise has also given me a bit more evidence to put in my back pocket around something I say so very often to the folks I serve:

There’s power in showing up for and trusting yourself.

If you’re excited about the potential that this exercise could have for you, I’ll outline it below for you to begin exploring. Take some time to allow yourself a chance to really dive deep on this, and I bet you’ll be as awestruck as I was about the outcome. 

Try it out

This exercise is adapted and inspired by The Lantern Oracle card deck written by Angelina Mirabito, PhD. And honestly, my best advice would be to give yourself some time and space to do this exercise (read: a week or longer).  

Name each aspect/domain of your life. 

Flip a piece of paper horizontally and write across the top the domains of your life that are important and centered. Potential things to include are career, spirituality, relationships, education, health, mental health; you get the picture. These headings are going to be the areas in which we list out items from the numbered bullet points below. 

Imagine and write out your long term vision. 

Give yourself a minute to center yourself and then allow yourself to dream big. Under each domain of life heading listed in step one, write out what you see as your long term vision for that arena of life. Imagine what it would look like if everything went right for you in that domain and you were living in that realm of these dreams being actualized. What would you be doing? What would it feel like once you arrived? What would be different in your daily life if you were living in this? Get detailed and write it out. And don’t move on to the next step until this part is complete. 

Ask yourself the tough question. 

Take a moment and look at what you’ve written. That’s powerful stuff right there, even doing what you’ve just accomplished. To take it one step further, ask yourself to get really real around how you’re currently operating in these spaces. Are you currently operating from a place of fear in those domains, currently? Or a place of love? Abundance? Anger? A couple of questions that helped me move through this segment were: 

“What is motivating me to act in the way I currently am?”

“What’s my reason for not doing things the way I want, right now?”

Pull it all together. 

Look at your answers in step three. Draw a big, fat line through the things that are misaligned with your intentions in each domain. Highlight what appears to be coming from a place of love. And circle what appears to be coming from a place of fear. These marks are important, as they inform the next steps and really make this a ‘choose your own adventure’ rather than a prescriptive experience. 

Do something. 

We’ve come to everyone’s favorite part… or least favorite part. The actions associated with the work you just accomplished. The items that you drew a line through in step four? Consider how you might begin taking baby steps to moving those things out of your life. Create a plan to remove 5-10% of each line item out over the next few weeks, and write out how you are going to do that. The things you highlighted? Do the exact same but reframe it by creating a plan to increase those aspects by 5-10% over the next few weeks. And the items you’ve circled… well those ones are going to be needing some unpacking, as they usually hold the key to some serious transformation. For now, write out what the fears are and what they feel like in your body, mind, and soul when they’re present. 

Use your network. 

Transformation isn’t possible in a vacuum. Use the support network that you have around you to talk about what you’re uncovering. Take space to create things that help you dig deeper into what is presenting. Move your body. Write. All of the things that help you lean into what you’re recognizing and bring that back to a support network that can help you process it. And if you’re scratching your head right now, thinking “Jakkie, I don’t have that type of network”… come find me. Let’s start building that for you. 

Conclusion

You’re amazing. The dreams and aspirations you have for your life are worth time and space. And I bet that the more you lean into this exercise and all of the things that come with it for you, you’ll start to recognize truth in that, too. If I can be helpful throughout any of this, you know where to find me

Cheers & happy spring!

From Falling Apart to Figured Out

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