The Science Behind Intention

These magical days are slipping by so quickly. I’ve been in the heart of coffee country in Pereira, Colombia, for two weeks. I’m settling down by the pool, my heart just now slowing from a rigorous tennis lesson after a full day assembling my next keynote speech: Change the World without Quitting your Job. Long shadows are sharpening the lines of rolling, tropical hills and I realize, for just a moment, if I stop and breathe that … this is it! This IS the life I imagined. I am living it, right now.

I wonder why it took me 12 years to get here. Could I have been here sooner if I had made some decisions earlier? Had I hesitated less, would I have been here last summer or the summer before?

What if I had learned how to market professional services seven years earlier or if I had figured out how to properly manage cash flow 10 years before I did? I am sure this would be not my first summer, with kids, writing, surrounded by tropical beauty, learning a brand new pastime (tennis).

The life you live today is the resonance of thousands of small choices. The moments of opportunity rarely announce themselves as life-defining. The key, then, to building the life you want is to somehow make unique choices, in the moments when life presents itself.

There is a theory that might help us all accelerate our moment-by-moment path to the life we love. The idea is that every choice you make is preceded by an “intention” – something you intend to do which then motivates you to take action – read a book, pick up the phone, say, or ask a mentor for advice.

That intention emerges subconsciously through three interrelated inquiries:
1. What is possible: Your subconscious tells you whether an action is possible or not. For example, it could tell you whether admitting you need to learn more about marketing – as I did – and then reading a book about it could make a difference in your life or business.

2. What is socially acceptable: How would the people who are important to you – your parents, your friends –react to you taking the action? Would they scoff at you for admitting you were not good at marketing your firm when you advise many companies on marketing?

3. What are you capable of: Do you have the capacity, skill, ability to succeed in taking the action? If you read a book about marketing and studying the techniques, could you become good at it, or are you somehow incapable?

I am breaking down here just one decision about myself to illustrate the point. Had I believed studying marketing would work, had I not been too embarrassed to admit I had something to learn about it, had I believed I could become good at it if I tried – then I probably would have done 10 years ago what I started doing last year. I would probably have the results 10 years ago that I am just experiencing now. And this would probably be the end of a decade of summers abroad with my family writing by a pool as the sun sets … rather than the first.

What decisions have held you back? What has stopped you? Was it that you didn’t see it as possible, or was it not acceptable behavior, or were you not capable?

If you can identify your sticking point(s), you can release the brakes, accelerating your path to the life you desire.