This month we have been looking at the benefits of being
purposeful. How we can choose to make a difference to our day,
simply by being deliberate, rather than letting the day happen around
In our final week of this theme, we look at Intention – the energy
behind deliberate action. What’s your intention for this task,
conversation or relationship? If you know, it can have an impact on
everything you do.
How often do you consciously reflect on your intentions? Perhaps
enough to scribble a quick To Do list? “What do I intend to do
today?” Or perhaps to reflect on your original intentions after
something has not gone as expected?
Have you considered that mindfully considering your intentions
before you start anything could help you to plan and prioritise better,
but more importantly, it could help you to get more enjoyment and
satisfaction out of the things you do?
Suppose you and I were sitting in the same room, with the same
people, participating in the same conversation about a topic. You’d
imagine that we’d both hear and see the same things, so we’d feel the
same way about ‘how that conversation went’. This isn’t necessarily
true. Our moods, priorities and focus can apply a completely different
filter to exactly the same situation.
And this is what can happen to us everyday, if we just kind of ‘go with
the flow’. We can come to the end of a day and reflect that it didn’t
go well, or that we didn’t enjoy part of it – almost as if we had no
control over it at all.
But this doesn’t have to be true. How our brain is ‘primed’ can make a
big difference to this. If we spend just a few minutes in the morning
really reflecting on our intentions for the day we can incline our mind
in the direction of what we want and our brain is more likely to see the
world through that lens.
Whatever our mindset, our brain tends to look for ‘evidence’ of that to support the theory. For example, you get out of bed in a bad mood one day, grumbling that it’s going to be a terrible day. The toast burns, the bus is late and everyone on the bus glares at you like they hate you. Your brain highlights all of this to you, to show you how the world is a bad place – just as you thought when you got up in a bad mood.
But if you got up that same day and determined that you’d have a happy and productive day, your brain would look for evidence of that along the way instead.
No, we can’t stop late buses or burnt toast, but we can change our perception of them as they happen – just a nuisance, not a plot to make your day as awful as you feared.
The glowering people on the bus just weary, not looking daggers specifically at you. You see, same situation, different perception. Meaning that at the end of the day, instead of looking back and thinking how terrible that particular day was, your brain will choose to review the good things that happened, not the bad ones.
Here are 4 areas to reflect on that will help to mindfully set your
intention for the day. They can work just as well for your intentions
for a specific task, meeting or conversation too:
- Aim – What matters most in making this a success? What
should your priority be as a result? This is the step we usually do
when we consider intention. But in this exercise we go a few
- Attitude – What worries or niggles are dominating your
thoughts and mood right now? Do they help you to achieve
your aim, or can they be put aside for the moment?
- Assumptions – What negative assumptions do you have about
this? Do you assume something will go wrong or that others will
feel a certain way? You don’t know, so can you challenge this
expectation before you start?
- Attention – Where do you most need to direct your attention to
best help you to achieve your aim? To what can you pay
particular attention to help counter or check out your negative
assumptions? What do you want to see more of? Look for it!
So in short, take a little extra time to check your own filters are in a
positive place before you start. See if you can create a blank slate
through which to experience everything as it is. It can change how
successful a day can feel – even if there’s burnt toast.