My first life coach was really into “setting intentions.” The idea was foreign, and sounded a bit too New Agey for my taste, but I was curious.
I'd give it a try.
During our initial coaching sessions, it had become clear that work was my biggest source of stress. My coach helped me to think of ways I could counter the stress I felt at the office.
“Is there a place outside of work that’s a source of peace for you?” she asked. “Perhaps at home?”
At the time, I lived with two roommates and their three giant dogs in a tiny house in Portland, Oregon. My roommates were great but the dogs could be crazy. I realized I'd been shutting myself in my room to avoid them.
No peace at work or home. No wonder I was stressed.
I needed my own apartment. Yet I’d always dismissed the idea because it would mean spending twice as much money on rent. Cheap rent had been the only way I could grow my savings on a modest salary.
Plus, rents were skyrocketing in Portland. Even if I doubled what I currently paid, I doubted I could get a nice apartment.
Upon hearing my doubts, my coach jumped in with the intention setting.
“I want you to make a list of all the qualities of your perfect apartment,” she said. “Write down every detail.”
I began: A one bedroom, one bathroom with bathtub, lots of light, onsite laundry, quiet, safe, nice neighbors, near public transit…
By the end, I had nearly 20 items on my list.
I sent it to my coach. “Great,” she said. “This is your intention.”
My search began. For my price range, there were definitely a lot of crummy apartments. It was discouraging.
One Saturday I saw an ad for an apartment just up the street. The price was in the middle of my range. It sounded too good to be true. I called the landlord anyway.
As soon as I saw the space, my New York City apartment-hunting training kicked in.
I pulled out my checkbook.
A few days later, I opened my journal to my Perfect Apartment list. I could check off every item except for two. (Natural light in the living room, and a gas stove.)
I loved that apartment. It was a continual source of peace and security during all the big changes that happened in my life in the next three years.
Setting intentions was not such New Agey mumbo-jumbo after all.
It was actually very straightforward. When you set an intention, you clarify exactly what you want in your best-case scenario. Then you keep your eyes open for it.
And if there is a mysterious New Agey element to setting intentions, it’s this: When you get really clear about what you want, it often seems to magically appear.
What situation in your life could you approach with greater intention?
- Reflect on your situation and the ideal outcome for you.
- Write a detailed description of that outcome. If you want a new job, record every element of your perfect position. If you’re looking for a new romantic relationship, list all the characteristics of your perfect partner.
- Put your description aside.
- Continue doing what you were doing – and at the same time be watchful and ready for your ideal to show up. You know what it should look like; now you’ve just got to recognize it.
- When you see it, act on it.
Since my Portland apartment experience, I’ve learned to pause at the crossroads in life and imagine my best possible outcome. This practice has led me closer and closer to my ideal every time – as I hope it does for you.
In what part of your life could you set an intention? What would be the first three things on your ideal outcome list? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.