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Published on June 15, 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.

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.

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

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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.)

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.

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(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.

Step 10. Check In and Celebrate Successes

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

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Khamkhor via unsplash.com

Reference

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Laurie Smith

Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

How to Set Intentions That Set You Up for Success 13 Keys to Living Your Best Life

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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