5 steps for setting an intention

Published on
January 18, 2016
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“How are you?”

“Busy! Busy! Busy! Oh! Sooo busy!”

The download of self-importance and overwhelm follows.

Next time you hear someone say this, pay close attention to your energetic state. Feel the lifeblood drain out of you. Spirit gone. Compelled to stay in the conversation no more.

Rarely does someone say, “You know what? Life’s full, and I’m good. What’s up?”

Busy. It’s killing culture. And you want to talk about contagious? Oh boy.

What’s your organization’s relationship with busy?

We buy into this idea of being busy like it’s a badge of honor. We’ve turned busy into the new “fine.” We compete for who’s the busiest of us all. We infect with busy.

Often we don’t even realize we’ve been infected until someone, in a moment of care, presence, and curiosity, asks, “Really? What are you so busy with?” And then we get to get present to what really is.

Having a lot going on is not going to go away. You likely have more to do than ever. And you can do it – maybe even all of it. It’s not about being less busy; it’s about being more intentional.

It’s rarely inspiring or energizing listening to someone talk about how busy he or she is.

Yet it’s one of the most common conversations in our culture today.

Busy doesn’t make us better, more important, or more awesome. It just makes us exhausted. And exhausting. It’s an epidemic.

But never fear, because you already have the antidote. The antidote to “busy” is presence and intention.

Your first ninja move is to ditch “busy” and replace it with something delicious.

You can start with low-hanging fruit: Notice your language, and your relationship with “busy.” If it doesn’t inspire you, change it.

Perhaps you’re “richly scheduled,” “well used,” “on purpose,” “on track,” “on fire.” Find language that serves you and your physiology and creates more mental space. Everything else will follow suit.

Personalize “busy,” and treat her as a friend. She’s here to inform you of when you’re feeling overwhelmed, when you need a reboot, when you need to be more intentional, and when you need to reevaluate if you’re spending your time and leveraging yourself as optimally as possible.

Busy can teach you to ask for help, to delegate, and to intend better.

So how exactly do you set an intention?

Step 1: Get Present and Feel into What You Want
Allow yourself to dream and want what you want. Just like a dream is a great access point, a complaint or something that frustrates you is a great place to access this information as well. What’s the request or dream living underneath the complaint? Intend something different.

Step 2: Be Clear and Claim Your Intention
Do you want this thing? Really? Claim it. It’s yours. Be as specific as possible here, and state it in the positive of what you want, not the negative of what you don’t want. Be clear.

Step 3: Make Sure the Desire Is Truly There
Make sure that your energy is congruent in wanting this thing. It’s something you want, not something you think you should want or your mom wants or your boss wants. You’re looking for a “full body yes,” not a “yes” that comes with the energy of “maybe” or “I should.”

Step 4: Share It – Surround Yourself with Right People
Don’t do this stuff alone. You can, you’re welcome to, and sometimes you need to do it alone. Sometimes it actually works better to make this a very personal trek. But more often than not, it’s more effective to do it with someone. Get support. Once you’ve set your intention and you know you want this thing, share it with someone, or several someones.

Step 5: Make a Plan, Set a Timeline, and Get into Action
Your next step, possibly in partnership with your crew, is to make the plan and create a timeline for when this will all unfold. Revisit this plan and this intention every day. Keep it alive by connecting with the “why” of the intention, the feeling of it, the vision of it becoming a reality, and the intention of who you have to be and what you have to do to make it so.

The results of applying these principles will be highly contagious and can have a huge impact on your team. In fact, I recommend that you work on setting presence and intentions with your team or colleague. Since these are high leverage game changers and are highly contagious, the more the merrier. Just remember to stay the course. This is a lifelong practice, so keep working your stuff. Your leadership and culture will be all the better for it.

Excerpted from CONTAGIOUS CULTURE by Anese Cavanaugh. Reprinted with permission from McGraw-Hill, copyright 2016.