HOW STRONG IS YOUR INTENTION TO SUCCEED?
Have you ever wondered why for some people making improvements to their wellbeing seems relatively easy and yet for others it can be a tremendous struggle?
One of the key factors here is your own belief in your ability to change as well as your enthusiasm to actually achieve the end result. In other words, your intention to succeed is tremendously important.
What is your self-talk like when you consider some of the things you have identified as potential goals? Do you say, “I’m going to do this and nothing is going to stop me,” or is it more like, “I’ll give it a try if I can”? Which approach do you think would be the more likely to be successful?
If you fall into the category of just thinking you’ll give these ideas a ‘try’ without holding any strong conviction that you will succeed then you are far more likely to find the change process a struggle.
This is why measuring your intention to succeed is really important. In metaphysical terms and even in terms of some of the latest research that is emerging from the field of quantum physics, it can be useful to consider your ‘inner world’ of thoughts as being just as real as your outer physical reality and so setting a clear intention can be a potent force in helping you to achieve your goals.
Let me give you an analogy here. Imagine the sun’s rays shining through a magnifying glass that is constantly moving from spot to spot, the power of the sun’s rays is diffuse and not at all effective. If on the other hand, the magnifying glass is held still and focused correctly, those same rays become highly concentrated and that diffused light suddenly becomes powerful enough to light a fire. And it’s exactly the same with your thoughts.
So consider a goal that you currently have and ask yourself: “How strong is my intention to succeed?” Are you ready to do what it takes to ground your good ideas and turn them into reality? You might also like to look back to the Wheel of Wellness exercise and if you haven’t already done so give yourself a score out of ten to measure the strength of your intention to be successful. If a score of 0 represents no commitment at all and a score of 10 represents total commitment so that nothing can stand in your way, what would you score right now for your most important goal?
As I often tell my coaching clients, a score of seven or less means you probably won’t do it and if this is the case it might be worth asking yourself how much enthusiasm you really have for your goal.
Remember the word ‘enthusiasm’ comes from the Greek word enthousiasmos, which itself comes from the adjective entheos, meaning “having the god within”. It describes that inner passion and driving force that keeps you working towards your final goal.
On the other hand, if you have a score of seven or more then you are well on your way to achieving what you want but it’s still worth considering what it would take to raise your level of intention by just one more point.
Whatever your goals are in life, assessing your level of intention and enthusiasm can be a great way of checking if you are actually willing to commit to doing whatever it takes to be successful.
ACTIVITY: PAY ATTENTION TO INTENTION
Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. Head up the left hand column “I want to:” and the one on the right “I intend to:” and then write down all the things you say you want to do, then the things you actually intend to do. Which column did you find it easier to write in?
Most people find that their list of intentions is very much shorter than their list of wants because for you to honestly say that you will do something your intention must be in alignment with your beliefs and values or you just won’t have the enthusiasm to follow it through.
Let me put this another way by telling you the story of Emma’s battle to stop smoking.
Emma was a bright twenty-something businesswoman with a promising career ahead of her. She was also deeply in love with her boyfriend, desperately hoping he would propose to her. But there was a problem, she smoked heavily and he hated the smell of cigarettes. She was fed up of being nagged to stop smoking and one way and another their relationship was at an impasse. Fortunately, Emma wasn’t new to coaching, she had worked with a business coach in the past and we had already been working together for a few weeks by the time the issue of the cigarettes came up.
When I asked her how committed she actually was to giving up smoking she rated her intention at about two to three. She was full of resistance and resentment and even though she told me that she wanted to become a non-smoker, clearly her heart wasn’t in it. Why? Because stopping smoking wasn’t even her goal. It was a goal that her boyfriend wanted for her and not one that she had any real enthusiasm for herself. Once she realised this she was able to let go of the idea and focus on other matters that were really more important to her.
Some months later, Emma did stop smoking, but she did it for herself, not because someone else wanted her to.
WHAT IF THIS IS ALL TOO DIFFICULT?
One of the greatest challenges I find as a health coach is to be of help to someone who does not really want to change or who just isn’t ready to change yet. Often these are the very same people for whom change is really important, perhaps even essential to their wellbeing.
I mention this because the chances are that at some point you will come across the same challenges too. After all, if you already had all the motivation and enthusiasm you needed to achieve your goals you probably wouldn’t be reading this book.
Everyone struggles with a lack of enthusiasm from time to time and if this is true for you and you would like to do something about it, here are a few tips that you can use to take the first step towards reaching your goal.
Firstly get some genuine encouragement and unqualified support. A professional coach will naturally give you this, or you could consider co-coaching with a trusted friend who is willing to be fully in support of you. Sometimes good friends or relatives can play this role but watch out for them offering you advice through their own filter of opinions. Sometimes this can feel supportive but it can also make you feel as though it is their opinion that matters more than your goal. So be selective about who you ask for support and if you are not met with the right level of enthusiasm for your efforts, move on.
Secondly lookout for a suitable role model, someone whose level of commitment you admire, or perhaps someone who has already made the sort of change you would like to make too and let them inspire you. If they can do it, so can you.
Finally, by pretending that you already have the qualities of this thing in your life, you will find it much easier to go out and actually achieve those things in practice. A very practical way of doing this is to make sure that you always describe these activities in the present tense, not the future tense. So if for example, your goal is to weigh less, it would be more helpful to say, “I am eating less,” rather than saying, “I am going to eat less,” because as far as your subconscious mind is concerned the future doesn’t exist yet, so your intentions become meaningless. So keep your self-talk positive and in the present tense and you will notice a big difference in how you feel.
Procrastination is normal but there is always a balance to be kept between taking your time to reflect and then choosing the best course of action and getting on with it. Putting off something that you know should be done eventually becomes demoralising and exhausting and that’s not good for you.
By now you will probably have gathered that the first step in moving forward is to become more consciously aware of what it is that you are procrastinating about. Then you can decide to either drop that goal or put some helpful structures in place to help you get on with it. But make sure you do one or the other.
Raising your motivation to achieve your goals is essential if you are to be successful. Without it, you will experience resistance, procrastination and perhaps a sense of failure before you have really even begun. With motivation, your self-limitations will melt away and what might have seemed impossible to you before now merely becomes a realistic challenge.
In truth, all change involves a loss of some sort. The loss of your favourite habit, the loss of your old comfort zone, or even of your most deeply held beliefs about yourself. So it is important to work through this material with compassion and gentleness, just as you would treat your best friend who was grieving over the loss of something special to them.
Keep going and very soon you will find that the pain of leaving behind what is old and familiar will be overtaken by the excitement of having something new and very worthwhile within your grasp.
With enthusiasm, passion and a strong intention you will find it much easier to achieve your goal, so it is essential that you continue to readjust your outcomes to make them more achievable, compelling and inspiring until you feel a genuine enthusiasm for them.
However just like the process of change, building up your level of motivation is a process, you can’t just switch it on at will, it needs time to be nurtured and developed and the chances are you will need to work at it, so I have included a number of exercises in the pages that follow to help you do just that.
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles still has to begin with a single step, yet that first step really doesn’t have to be the longest or even the most difficult.
Baby steps are fine, just as long as you keep taking them and they keep moving you in the right direction
“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”