I like to think that I’m starting to get the hang of blogging. Every Tuesday after I come back from SoulCycle, I take a shower, get into my PJs, and with a big cup of coconut tea in hand, I sit at my desk to write my blog post that will go live Thursday morning. It’s a routine I’m starting to immensely enjoy.
When I sit down to write, I always ask myself the same question:What is my intention with this piece?
In the past year, it’s a question I ask myself before everything I do, whether it is when I clip into a SoulCycle bike or when I walk into a meeting for Spire & Co. As someone who is incredibly scatter brained by nature, setting intentions before I bring my energy into a space has been crucial in making sure I make the most out of my time as well as everyone else’s.
I learned this the hard way (which is also why I wanted to write this post for you). I used to make to do lists and live my life according to my schedule. I’m not saying there is something wrong with that, but the problem was in how I was doing that. I was working on just getting the most done physically, not taking into account how doing those things made me or anyone else feel. It’s not that I was making myself or someone else feel bad–at least I hope not. It’s just that I was not making anyone feel particularly good. It was just a meh kind of feeling. And who wants to live a meh life?
As I was sitting here setting my intention, I decided that my intention with this post was to explain intention and how you can be more intentional in your everyday life (that’s a lot of “intentions” for one sentence…my seventh grade English teacher wouldn’t be very proud of my writing game).
You have probably heard people say that the key to success is to be present in every moment. But that’s like meditating in the center of Times Square: there’s way too many distractions and concerns.
With everything that seems challenging, the first step is changing the language. That will change your perspective. The idea of being present–not thinking about the future or past but rather being fully focused on the moment at hand–is exhausting just to think about. You have a major exam tomorrow. You have a bill to pay. You didn’t get in your morning workout and are frustrated with yourself. The bottom line is you have a lot on your plate, you’re treading water, and you’re trying to make sure that you don’t drown. Being present sounds like a special treat.
But being present isn’t a treat. It’s a choice.
How do you change the language, though? That’s where intention comes in. What being present really means is being intentional with your time. It’s being in a place and giving your energy to that place and to that time.
I just came back from SoulCycle, so let’s use an exercise example. Let’s say you are going to work out (plug in whatever is your favorite workout). Before you step on that elliptical or walk into that class or start your run, ask yourself: What is my intention for this work out?
Your intention may be to feel stronger. To boost your energy. To feel happier. You get the idea. It shouldn’t be something like “to lose weight” or “to look better.” Why? Because those are external from your soul. The key to setting intentions is ensuring it is based on something you truly feel. In the case of exercising, if you exercise to feel stronger, the dependent variable here can be to lose weight or look better. It is the added bonus.
Here are some other examples of setting intentions that work:
Event: You are being interviewed for a job or internship.
Your Intention: To help the interviewer understand who you are and who you want to be.
Event: You are studying for an exam.
Your Intention: To grow in your understanding of the subject and feel confident walking into and out of your exam.
Event: You are waking up in the morning.
Your Intention: To have a day full of abundance and fulfillment.
Event: You are interviewing someone for your blog.
Your Intention: To learn who this person is and what other people can learn from them.
What is the point of setting your intention? It’s kind of like making a wish list for a holiday as a child. By making a wish list, you ensured that you got what you desired. That way, the giver’s investment was not wasted and you got something that adds some sort of value to your life. By setting your intention, you get the most out of a given period of time.
Keep in mind though that your intention is not the only thing that matters. If you are meeting with another person, from meeting a friend for coffee to an interviewer, they have an intention, too, whether they know it or not. If you can understand their intention, now you have created a powerful moment. You can ensure that both of you come out fulfilled–the true victory of intentional living.
Intentional living isn’t something I have learned easily. For a long time, I worked like a machine on Smart Girls Group. That wasn’t working; for the team, the business, or me. Yeah, I could tread water and work myself to the bone–honestly, I’m pretty good at that–but by focusing my energy and setting intentions, I actually get more out of my day and feel fulfilled.
Whether it is a math class or a long distance run, let’s set intentions that make life more meaningful. I’m still getting the hang of blogging, just like I’m still getting into the groove of living intentionally. But that’s why I want to write posts like this: so that we can figure this out together. So that together we can feel more fulfilled and live more abundantly. I don’t think that’s something anyone can do alone.
If you’re discovering something that you think we could all learn from, let me know! I would love to learn from you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you a week filled with good intentions and serious fulfillment…
For more blog posts by Emily, check out the From Emily’s Desk series.