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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

How to Set Intentions That Set You Up for Success

How to Set Intentions That Set You Up for Success

My body feels tight, and my muscles are sore from sitting hunched over my computer as I write.

“I really need to exercise more,” I think as I feel the tension in my shoulders. “I need to get in better shape.”

We all have those things that don’t match up with how we think our lives should be.

While our instinct might be to put something on our to-do list and muscle our way through making changes (often beating ourselves up with self-judgment when we fail), this rarely works.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” –-Carl G. Jung

Making a change requires self-compassion and knowing how to create intentions that set us up for success.

How Intentions Really Work

Imagine you have a problem in some area of your life where you would like to act differently.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, when setting intentions for success, it’s important to consider why things are the way they are right now.

Assuming that your unconscious mind is always working for your highest good, what benefit might you gain from not getting what you think you want?

While it might not always seem like it, we always have a positive underlying reason for doing what we do, even behaviors that aren’t so good for us.

Ask yourself, “What is a positive reason my unconscious mind might want me to continue this unwanted behavior?”

The answers are always personal and different for each of us.

In the case of my own exercise problem (or lack of exercise), when I asked this question, I realized my unconscious mind might be seeing exercise as in direct opposition to my writing.

I had newly freed up a lot more space to write and I was coveting it. From an outside perspective, it might have seemed obvious that there was enough time to both write and exercise.

However, I had a feeling my unconscious mind saw time spent exercising as threatening to this other habit that was also in the interest of my well-being.

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Writing was good for my soul, and finding time to do it more often was something I had only recently worked back into my life.

The answer?

I needed to come up with a new intention that encompassed both of my needs.

In addition, if you want to learn about the difference between intentions and goals, check out this video:

How to Create a New Intention for Success

I like to think of the intentions we consciously choose for our lives as a big safety net, a foundation arching under us, holding our energy, making sure we don’t fall too far from where we want our lives to go.

The more we direct our intentions with purpose, the more successful we become in achieving our desired outcomes.

Integrating the combined power of our unconscious and conscious minds ensures that we channel all our resources—our full self—when it comes to manifesting change.

I have recorded an audio-meditation and checklist to accompany this article, just for LifeHack.org readers, to help you take the information in this article even deeper. You can get your free copy of these tools on my website at LaurieSmith.com.

Here are10 steps for setting intentions for success.

10 Steps for Creating an Intention for Success

The following ten-step process is something I call an Activation Meditation(TM), which I developed and have been using in workshops and private sessions with my clients for several decades.

Activation Meditations(TM) are designed to help you access your own intuitive wisdom and direct your own transformation.

Activation Meditations(TM) incorporate the latest in neuroscience research, NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), Ericksonian hypnotherapy, energy medicine, creative visualization, and meditation techniques to help people activate their own power within to create deep and lasting change.

Step 1. Ask Yourself: What’s Not Working?

(In my case, sitting for hours at my computer without taking breaks or moving my body more was not working.)

Step 2. Imagine: How Do You Want To Feel Instead?

(I wanted to feel more relaxed, strong, and to have better posture.)

Once you have found your new intention, turn it into an affirmation.

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An affirmation is written in the first person and present tense. It often begins with “I AM” (for example, “I am strong and relaxed”).

Step 3. Check In With Your Intuition

What is your gut instinct telling you about the intention you have chosen?

Our intuition is communicating with us all of the time through our bodies.

Is your new intention what you really want? How do you know? How does this new intention make you feel?

It’s important to listen to our intuition since our intentions are so personal.

(In my example regarding trying to exercise more, when I checked the intention “I am strong and relaxed” with my intuition, I didn’t get that feeling in my gut that to me means a definite YES.

When I asked myself what might be an even better intention, the word “open” popped into my mind.

That felt much better.

Previously, I had been believing that there wasn’t enough open time on my schedule to exercise. My muscles were tight, which meant there wasn’t enough open space in my body.

Even though it might not have seemed related to my desire to exercise at first glance, for me the phrase “I am open” was a perfect choice for my new intention.)

Step 4. Imagine a Symbol that Represents the Way You Want to Feel

This is a step most people skip and is perhaps the most powerful one.

As psychologists Carl Jung and Freud both discussed in their work[1], the unconscious mind communicates with us in symbols.[2]

Using symbols can help accelerate our changes and make them stick. When seeking a symbol that represents your intention, trust whatever you come up with. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers.

Research shows visualizing is even more effective when we access all of our senses.[3]

If your symbol had a sound, smell, taste, or feeling associated with it, what might those be? Is it dark or light? Is it large or small? (There are no right answers, trust whatever first pops into your head.)

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People see all kinds of different symbols when doing this exercise. Your symbol might be an object, an image, a color, a sign, something you have seen before, or something new you created in your imagination. Some people don’t visualize easily and instead might just feel a feeling or associate their intention with a sound or scent.

(The symbol I saw was a spot of sparkling white light with a few colors speckled in. It was expansive and silent, calm yet energetic. This is the way I wanted my body, my life, and my inner spirit to feel as a result of exercising.)

Step 5. Visualize Your Symbol in Your Heart

Imagine bringing the symbol that represents your new intention to the top of your head. Then, imagine bringing it down through the crown of your head through your body into your heart.

You can do this very quickly by simply closing your eyes or in the form of a longer meditation, like the one I offer in the “free stuff” section of my website.

Step 6. Choose an Aligned Action

While still in a relaxed state, ask yourself:

“What is an action step—some specific way, a simple change, I can make to manifest my intention?”

(For me, the action step I thought of was to stretch more often. More than anything, I realized my body needed to stretch more throughout the day, especially after long periods of writing. Interestingly, stretching also helps muscles grow and relax, literally helping the body become more open and expansive, which was my intention.)

Step 7. Connect Your Action With an Existing Habit

What is a habit you already have that makes you feel the same way?

The idea is to start slowly and build upon areas where you are already experiencing success. Instead of finding a new window on your calendar to add a new habit in, add it to something you already do.

(For example, I decided every time I sat down or stood up from my computer or notebook, I would take a few minutes to stretch.)

Step 8. Brainstorm More Ideas

Brainstorm new ways you can integrate your new intention into your life. As you do, imagine your symbol. This will help bypass any inner resistance you might have to the new behavior.

(Brainstorming helped me to come up with many other creative ways to work small sessions of exercise into my day. I realized hiking could be a great time for coming up with new ideas for my writing.

By continually building on the success I had already experienced with my writing, I allowed my two positive habits to support each other, rather than being in opposition to my unconscious mind. As a result, I retrained my mind to see exercise as improving my writing practice, rather being in a separate compartment of my life.)

Step 9. Connect With Your Symbol and Intention Often

Imagine your symbol and repeat your affirmation/intention to yourself when you first wake up and right before you fall asleep. Research shows focusing on our intentions before sleeping can increase our ability to achieve our desired outcomes.[4]

Imagine your symbol also as you go through the actions of your day. This increases the chance that your intention will expand and positively affect other aspects of your life as well.

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Step 10. Check In and Celebrate Successes

Check in with yourself at the end of the day and see how well you’ve done.

Celebrate your successes and use periodic check-ins. Consider creating a ritual where you check in with yourself in the morning and before sleep, at the same time imagining your symbol and repeating your affirmation (#9).

This can help you keep your momentum going and help you find new ways to fine-tune the way you are integrating your intention into your life.

Final Thoughts

To review, there are two ways of setting intentions.

One is to choose intentions based on our rational mind – what we think we “should” be doing with our life, either based on others’ recommendations or how we think our lives should be.

The second is to tap all aspects of ourselves, our unconscious mind, imagination, intuition, and creativity.

Intentions set in this more holistic way succeed because they connect us with our self-compassion and provide us with handholds to grasp as we strive to create lives that honor all of who we really are.

Look at the list above from 1 to 10. Which step do you think you would be most apt to skip over or rush through as you create your own intention for success?

For me, it’s number 3. Sometimes I want to speed through exercises like this, and forget to check in with the wisdom of my intuition.

Our intuition, however, is the key to setting intentions and making them successful.

As you go through all these steps, experiment and discover ideas that work for you. Remember, you have within you the wisdom and positive energy that is always striving to help you create whatever is in your highest good.

You can find the Setting a Successful Intention downloadable checklist and the Creating a Positive Intention Activation Meditation(TM) that accompany this article on my website LaurieSmith.com.

More Success Tips

Featured photo credit: Khamkhor via unsplash.com

Reference

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Laurie Smith

Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

13 Keys to Living Your Best Life and Aligning Your Priorities How to Set Intentions That Set You Up for Success What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By Understanding the 5 Stages of Life Can Help Navigate Hard Times how to get out of a funk How to Get Out of a Funk When You’re Stressed Out

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

If you could do one thing to transform your life, I would highly recommend it be to find something you’re passionate about, and do it for a living. Learning how to find your passion may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s well worth the effort.

If you dread going to your job, find yourself constantly lacking motivation, or find what you’re doing dull and repetitive, you need to start looking for a new job.

Staying in your current job will not only continue to leave you feeling stuck and make you unhappy, but you are not realizing your full potential in life.

Imagine this instead:

You get up early, jumping out of bed, excited to go to work. You might put in more hours than the average person, but it doesn’t seem difficult to you, because your work hours just zoom right by.

You are often in that state of mind, often referred to as “flow,” where you can lose track of the world and time, losing yourself in the task at hand. Work is not work as many people refer to it, but something that is fun and interesting and exciting. It’s not a “job” but a passion that leads to a fulfilling life.

If you’ve got a job you dislike, or even hate, this will sound like a pipe dream to you. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, such a thing will never be possible.

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However, if you dare to ask “how do I find my passion,” imagine the possibilities, and actually search for what you love, it is not only a possibility, but a probability.

How do you go about learning how to find your passion in life? Here are some suggestions:

1. Is There Something You Already Love Doing?

Do you have a hobby or something you loved doing as a child, but never considered it as a possibility for a job?

Whether it’s reading comic books, collecting something, or creating or building, there is probably a way you could do it for a living. Open a comic book shop, or create a comic book site online.

If there’s already something you love doing, you’re ahead of the game. Now you just need to research the possibilities of making money from it.

2. Find out What You Spend Hours Reading About

For myself, when I get passionate about something, I’ll read about it for hours on end. I’ll buy books and magazines. I’ll spend days on the Internet finding out more.

There may be a few possibilities here for you, and all of them are possible career paths. Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them until you feel your heart is content, and this will help you get started as you learn how to find your passion.

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3. Brainstorm

If nothing comes to mind right away as you’re asking how to find my passion, get out a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas[1]. This doesn’t need to be an organized list. It can simply be a paper full of random notes or even doodles. All of this will eventually come in handy later.

Look around your house, on your computer, or on your bookshelf for inspiration, and write down whatever comes to mind. There are no bad ideas at this stage.

4. Ask Around

There are likely people you admire in life, and there are things about them that you would like to replicate in yourself. Go to them if possible, and pick their brain. See how they landed where they currently are and whether they feel they’ve discovered their passion.

The more possibilities you find, the more likely your chances of learning how to find your passion in the long run. This may mean that you spend time talking to friends and family, coworkers, or even acquaintances in your free time.

5. Don’t Quit Your Job Just Yet

If you find your calling, your passion, don’t just turn in your resignation tomorrow. It’s best to stay in your job while you’re researching the possibilities.

If you can do your passion as a side job and build up the income for a few months or a year, that’s even better. It gives you a chance to build up some savings (and if you’re going into business for yourself, you’ll need that cash reserve), while practicing the skills you need.

6. Give It a Try First

It’s best to actually test your new idea before jumping into it as a career as you’re wondering how to find your passion. Do it as a hobby or side job at first, so that you can see if it’s really your true calling.

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You may be passionate about it for a few days, but where the rubber meets the road is whether you’re passionate about it for at least a few months.

If you pass this test, you have probably found it.

7. Do as Much Research as Possible

Know as much about your passion as possible. If this has been a passion for a while, you may have already been doing this. At any rate, do even more research. Read every website possible on the topic, and buy the best books available.

Find other people, either in your area or on the Internet, who do what you want to do for a living, and quiz them about the profession.

How much do they make, and what training and education did they need? What skills are necessary, and how did they get their start? What recommendations do they have?

Often, you’ll find that people are more than willing to give advice.

8. Practice, and Practice, and Practice Some More

If you’re getting close to learning how to find your passion, don’t go into it with amateur skill level. If you want to make money—to be a professional—you need to have professional skills.

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Get very good at your future career, and you will make money at it. Practice for hours on end and learn how to focus; if it’s something you love, the practice should be something you want to do.

9. Never Quit Trying

It’s possible that you won’t be able to find your passion at first. However, if you give up after a few days, you’re sure to fail. Keep trying, for months on end if necessary, and you’ll find it eventually.

Perhaps you thought you found your passion but discovered several months on that it wasn’t for you. Start over again and find a new passion. There may be more than one passion in your lifetime, so explore all the possibilities.

Have you found your passion but haven’t been successful making a living at it? Keep trying, and try again until you succeed. Success doesn’t come easy, so giving up early is a sure way to fail.

If you need a little help, the Make It Happen Handbook can provide you with a solid action plan to help you turn your passion in your career. Check out the handbook and start to live your passion!

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget that all of this will be a lot of work, but it will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Put in the time to learn how to find your passion, and you will find that your days are more fulfilling and produce more happiness and well-being in the long-term.

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Featured photo credit: Dewet Willemse via unsplash.com

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