This time of year is all about re-setting. Vowing to do things differently, better. Most common is the talk of setting new resolutions but for a while now the concept of being resolute about changes you want to make has been rejected in favour of the softer concept of setting intentions. The idea being that if you’re not so fixed on the things you should or shouldn’t be doing then you are less likely to “fail” in sticking to them.
Me, I’m a fan of the intention. It fits well with a feminine leadership approach and is more fluid, less harsh and results driven and more likely to be achieved when life (as often happens) gets in the way. Instead I see intentions as markers, set out to keep you on track to get to where you want to be headed, to give you clarity along the often squiggly way of making them happen.
But like any statement of intent, goal or resolution you won’t actually make them happen without taking some action too. It’s all well and good saying what you intend to, to know where you want to be headed, but if you don’t take the action to support them they’ll turn into pipedreams.
So how do you set intentions that actually get the end results you’re after? Here are a few pointers to help you make the changes you need:
1. Imagine the end result when you set the intention
Link it to process of getting there. So for example if you intend to get a promotion in work, what would work look like for you say in 12 months time, once you’ve gone and achieved it? What would you have needed to have done to get there? Linking in with the process enables us to see what needs to be done, break it down into practical steps and get clear about what to do first. And knowing what to do next is usually the first stumbling block when it comes to making your intentions a reality.
2. Connect with the purpose behind the intention
You need to know why you’re doing something. If you don’t, it will be easy to just stop trying to get there. So when you set an intention stop and ask yourself, “What am I doing this for?”. It may not be for you, other people or a greater purpose may be what’s driving you. It doesn’t really matter. When you connect with your purpose it acts as the engine to keep yourself on track and continuing to do the thing you intend to do.
3. Don’t get fixated on when you’re going to get stuff done
It’s good to plan, don’t get me wrong, I love a plan, but rigid, fixed plans don’t tend to work too well in the realm of real life. So better to map out a plan and understand the steps involved to make it happen. If you fall off the wagon and lose focus or have to divert to something more pressing, it means you haven’t failed in reaching your goals, you’ve just not got there yet. It enables you to jump back on the wagon and start from where you’re at. This is also a great way to ditch the “I’m a failure so I’m going to give up” attitude that can arise if we don’t stick to those rigid “I must go to the gym 3 times a week” type of goals and resolutions.
4. Disconnect your emotion from the outcome
How would you feel if you failed to make those big ideas of yours happen? Pretty devastated maybe. Gutted that you weren’t capable of the things you really want. That’s emotion talking. And when it turns into negative emotion it’s more likely to morph into fear, especially when you start out trying to work towards those intentions you’ve set for yourself. So disconnect from it. Don’t put any emotional attachment on your intentions and instead just sit back and trust the process. Because if you’re taking the steps and you know where you’re headed, you’ll get there eventually. Make it not matter when it happens and ask yourself who’s deadline is it anyway?
5. Don’t be afraid to intend big
Sometimes when we set something out for all to see, it can make us feel vulnerable and scared. Those mind monkeys step in and start playing with our heads. What if I can’t actually do it? What will people think if I fail? These are the fears that stop us from actually making those bigger steps and really doing what we want, what we fully intend to do. So before you shy away from setting your intention bar high check in with what it would look like to get there in small, achievable chunks. So say you want to run a marathon and you’ve only ever walked to the shops and back, the jump to get there could feel like huge until you realise that by just adding in a few bursts of runs to the shops and backs and then gradually building to run a little further each time, whenever you can do it, can all start to add up you feeling more able to an confident of being able to do that bigger thing after all.
So how do these all fall into play when it comes to your career?
Well the thing about a successful careers is that it doesn’t just happen by chance. Yes you may get the odd lucky break along the away but like any good marriage to make it a success, work and effort are involved. It doesn’t have to be hard work, but you do need to work out what you want from it and put the energy and effort into making it happen. Chances are if you’re thinking about wanting to go up, be recognised for your work or ship out, you’re going to have to do something to make that happen, especially if you want some say over what the end result looks like.
So set some intentions for your year ahead. Just getting the job isn’t enough to send you on your career merry way. Getting the job is just the start. It’s up to you to navigate where your career goes after that.
Ask yourself these questions:
Where do I want to be in 12 months time?
What do I want to continue to do?
What do I want to stop doing?
Who do I need to involve to get the support I need to make it happen?
What do I intend to do in the process?
So if, for example, your overriding intention is to be seen as an expert in your field by the end of this year, what steps do you need to take to make that a reality? What will you be intending to do to show others how expert you actually are? How will you ensure that you take the steps?
Take some time with yourself to tune into what those intentions are, write them down and tell other people. The more you make yourself accountable for them and can see them as real things, the more likely you will be to take the action needed to make them happen.
Here’s to an intentional 2022.
Career Empowerment Coach
Helping professional women own their career using feminine leadership tools to find their power, make positive change and thrive in the workplace.
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