Without goals, there’s no purpose. Without purpose, there’s no drive. Without drive, life is little but wasted. We are all searching for something meaningful to color our days, but only a handful of us eventually find it. Our quests ask for commitment and hard work, and that’s usually the hardest part.
That’s why we set intentions.
How to Set Strong Intentions and Live a Purpose-Driven Life
When you set an intention, when you commit, the entire universe conspires to make it happen.
— Sandy Forster
Remember the Christmas wish lists you used to write as a kid? Or, those long, never-ending New Year’s resolutions? Well, intentions are the adult approach to dreaming, planning, and everything in between. They are the perfect roadmap for your life, the one that gives you direction and keeps you focused.
Here’s how I’ve set mine. Hopefully, it will inspire you to chase your goals, and live an authentic and meaningful life.
There’s a quote by Yo-Yo Ma that I really like: “If you don’t have clarity of ideas,” it goes, “you’re just communicating sheer sound.” Yo-Yo Ma is a musician, of course, but aren’t we all in a sense? In one way or another, we are all artists. To create, as artists do, is to realize dreams, and that’s everyone’s life goal.
Mine is to be of a service to others, and maintain good health and sanity. Yours is something entirely different.
I’m living my dream. Soon enough, you will live your dream too.
For both you and me though, the road to eventual fulfilment begins with clarity of ideas. I’ve always known exactly what I wanted in my life, but I’m one of the lucky few. Sometimes, it is confusion that holds people back from seeing what they truly need. Other times, it’s fear and diffidence that blurs the view.
Whatever it is in your case, it’s time to let it go. Clarity is the purest form of self-awareness, the kind of insight that allows you to manifest who you actually are, to reach your fullest potential, and start chasing your dreams. A life without clarity is a chimeric, trance-like thrall, an illusion that is painfully futile.
See your future as a destination, or a target. It might be a specific place you want to get to, or a state of mind that you wish to achieve. In either case, you need to reach it in time. It won’t wait if you stray and hinder, trust me. You need to start moving towards it now, and to keep going until you get there.
“What is my destination?” If I’m right, you’ll find out that the answer is already within you. Take a clean piece of paper, and write it down. That is your first intention in life, the prevailing and most important goal that you’ll be aiming towards.
Once the goal is clear, the finish line is already half-crossed.
Determine the feeling you’re after and define what’s meaningful to you
But, getting there is not where the journey ends.
Let’s say your promised place is love. The feeling of unadulterated intimacy is a life’s vision for many people I know, and it’s nothing less ambitious than our modern, career-driven goals. So, for the purpose of this paragraph, let’s say your promised place is in the arms of someone who makes you complete.
Now, let’s imagine that you’ve spent years searching for a partner. Before you’ve met him (or her), you’ve sacrificed everything else that would have made you successful, influential, or rich. Now that you’ve finally achieved your dream with that person, the dream doesn’t look as rosy as you’ve imagined.
What now, you ask?
Dreams are achievable, but they are also elusive. Once realized, they have to be cherished, nurtured, and maintained. No one, and nothing, can prepare you for the moment of long-awaited self-actualization — no one, and nothing, but you. That’s why clarity of emotions is just as crucial as clarity of ideas.
Squeeze them into your busy schedule. Embrace them, experience them, identify them, and analyze them. Never lose touch with your emotional self, and always know how you want to feel in every situation. Such awareness will help you assess your goals, and decide whether or not you want to chase them at all.
Otherwise, you might end up pursuing something you don’t actually want.
Master your life transitions
From aim to aim, from one event to another, we spend most of our lives making impossible choices. Regardless of how clear our goals are, in the end we’re usually taking plunges. These transitions are often so unsuspected, so swift that they make us second-guess our decisions, or even doubt who we are.
Other transitions are smaller, but wearisome all the same.
These are the everyday changes, those little shifts of energy that we experience every time we transition from bed to kitchen, from kitchen to work, and from work to bed again. In between are hours and hours of tiny, unmemorable and seemingly insignificant tasks during which losing purpose is so damn easy.
This is how to master them.
- Take 10 deep breaths
Whatever you do, remember to breathe. As an unconscious activity, inhaling and exhaling is a matter of life and death. As a conscious one, it is the simplest tool you can use to reconnect with yourself. Breathe, and count to ten. It will help you calm down, find your center, and remember what you’re doing it all for.
- Set your intention by defining the feeling to have when you transition yourself from one event to the next
Before you face your everyday life again, embrace the mindset you need for staying sharp and focused. Are you most productive when you’re relaxed and positive? If so, allow the feelings of calm and clarity to wash over you. Remember how they feel, and evoke them every time you transition.
There’s no drive without purpose. There’s no purpose without goals. But without intentions, all three are in vain. Set them, live them, breathe them – only that way, your future will be certain and grand.