Setting Small Intentions for Big Life Change
Episode #7 of the course A daily journal practice to become a better person every day by John Robin
“Every day, you have two choices: Continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.” —Carmelo Anthony, NBA basketball all-star
Welcome to Lesson 7 of our course!
By now, you’re a few days into your new daily journal habit. I hope it’s going great!
The steps I gave you in Lessons 1 and 2 are enough for you to run with the process and see how it goes, but with what we’ve covered in the last few days, you have a cutting edge.
As promised, today, we’re going to hone that edge further, as we turn to part four of the end-of-day journal process. Here’s where it all comes together, as you learn not to just set intentions for tomorrow, but to find the small intentions that lead to big life change.
Let’s dig in!
Big Things Start Small
You have the power to become anything you believe you can be, to do anything you believe you can do, but that power comes through achieving small things that add up over time.
The intentions you set for tomorrow are these small things. They are the deep seeds you will sow daily, again and again.
• three seeds sown at the end of each day
• three seeds germinating in the soil of your subconscious as you go to bed
Every morning, wake up with those seeds planted and growing in you as you do your morning routine. Every morning, those seeds expand during your one to two minutes of visualization as you see the beats of your day.
The process repeats itself and compounds like a high-interest investment.
How to Master Your Intentions
Like your struggles, gratitude, and visualization, being specific is the key to seeding powerful intentions.
You might have heard of SMART goals.
• S means specific.
• M means measurable.
• A means actionable.
• R means realistic.
• T means timely.
This is useful, but you can throw most of this away for something much simpler.
• Your intention is already going to be timely because you’re setting it for something that you’re going to do / not do / sort of do tomorrow. There’s a deadline.
• Your intention is already going to be actionable because you’re picking something specific you are going to do / not do / sort of do tomorrow.
• Your intention is already going to be measurable because you are going to evaluate it at the end of the day:
○ “✔” means you did it.
○ “x” means you didn’t do it.
○ “~” means you sort of did it or did something similar.
All you need to worry about is being specific and being realistic.
You’re already getting practice being specific:
• when you visualize in the morning
• when you zero in on what, specifically, you are grateful for from the day
• when you practice objectively pinpointing your struggles
Carry those skills over when you set your intentions, and you’ll fulfill the specific part of SMART.
All that remains is being realistic.
Learning to be realistic with your intentions is so important, it deserves its own section.
“Lose 20 lbs. this week” is not a realistic goal unless you plan not to eat all week.
But being realistic is tricky because you can chase this into gray territory:
• Lose 1 lb. today.
• Go to the gym for my workout on lunch break, and don’t eat after 7 pm.
Both those intentions are realistic, but the latter one is even more realistic. Why? Because it’s centered on specific things you can do / cannot do.
Can you directly control if you lose 1 lb. today? No. Instead, if you want to lose 1 lb., it’s probably because you want to lose weight. If you want to lose weight, that means you need to do something to lose weight. So, your intention should be instead what you need to do to lose weight.
Success for the day, then, comes down to if you did that action or not. Don’t focus on whether you lost weight, but on whether you did what you thought you needed to do to lose weight.
If you succeed at this, then you know it’s possible. This success can help you decide how you might push further with habits that support your larger intention to lose weight.
Results are secondary. Focus mainly on the process to those results, because that’s how results come about.
Practice being realistic in setting your intentions today. Scrutinize each intention by asking if it’s something in your control or not. If it’s an outcome, ask instead what behavior or action you want to do that will help you move toward that outcome.
Tomorrow, we move on to the last part of the end-of-day journal: past reflection and the synergy this can bring to our present perspective.
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