One of the most valuable tools I have in getting clarity about what I want to achieve, removing apprehension about moving forward, and achieving the results I want is writing a positive intention.
The goal of a positive intention is to move from fear to freedom. Writing an intention allows you to imagine an exceptional outcome and experience the positive emotions of achieving that outcome.
A written positive intention has very specific rules:
- It is written in past tense (as if it has already happened).
- It is written in all positive terms.
- It should be hand-written, not typed, if possible.
- It identifies the most exceptional outcome you can imagine.
- It focuses on how you and others feel about the outcome and the impact you can have if you achieve your positive outcome.
- It is always a draft. Modify it over time. Write several versions to identify when your intention is based of fear, which may mean it is self-focused or your ego is showing up.
I use intentions all the time at work. Before I go into a difficult meeting. When I am setting goals for the year or defining success for a project or initiative. An intention is can be used to communicate with your team or it can be used as a personal tool. When I can go into a meeting with a clear intention and my ego in check, I am more aware and calm and grounded and the results are amazing and I feel energized.
The most powerful experience I had using a positive intention is a very personal one. A couple of years ago, my oldest son was really depressed and I was worried and scared. Our family has a long history with mental illness including three generations of suicides and I have directly experienced the devastating effect when a family member commits suicide. I didn’t want that for my son.
I shared my deep fear with my executive coach and she encouraged me to write an intention about my son. A couple of months later, he came home for a visit and I was confronted directly with the extent of his illness and self-medication. It came to a head one day and as we sat down to talk, the atmosphere was sad, defeated and heavy. We were both crying until I shared my intention with him.
As I shared my intention describing how I could picture him at the end of a successful semester and our family skiing and snowboarding together, the energy in the room shifted and we both felt lighter and hopeful. He took me up on the offer to meet with my coach to learn how to move from fear to freedom and to develop his own intentions. The most amazing part of the story is that six months later, our family was gathered in Park City skiing and snowboarding, and my son had just completed a successful semester at college.
My intention had come true.
Of course, there are many details to the story that I have not shared. My son has worked hard with lots of ups and downs and I have not always been able to keep from worrying. We now have a shared language about intentions and fear to freedom that has been helpful. I talked to him the other day and he told me that he was doing better than ever, which makes me very happy and hopeful.