In business and personal life, there are must-haves, nice-to-haves and don't-want-to-haves. If you want to to know what your true intentions are, you need only look at your results. Results speak. Sometimes you do get what you don't want. If something is a must-have, you probably have it. If there is something you say you really want, and you don't have it, it's probably a nice-to-have: either you don't really want it, you are legitimately in the process of getting it, or you don't want it bad enough. What do you really want that you don't have and how do you make sure you get it?
The income you make, your net worth, the quality of your relationships and life experiences, your current weight and whatever else makes up your material reality are all the products of the choices you have made. The future values of each of these things reflects the choices you make today and the choices you make consistently in the long series of the days beyond.
I ask people a lot about their intentions. If I ask someone who weighs 200 pounds what their intention is, he will say something like 185 pounds. And I'll say, "no it isn't; your intention is 200 pounds. Do you know how I know that? Because you weigh 200 pounds." Your goal might be 185, but the sum of your choices to date has made you weigh 200. Why have you chosen to be 200 when you say you want to be 185? That's actually a revealing question.
How do we strengthen our intentions and our resolve to win? The trend of your choices may in fact be accumulating to where you say you want to be, but I'll only know if your intentions are strong enough to overcome whatever internal and external obstacles face you when you actually get there.
Most of us have a "summit" for many aspects of our material existence – something tangible we'd like to achieve or create. Whether or not we make it has a lot to do with how well we source the force of will and how well we aligned what we say we want with our healthy internal drivers. Motivation is the fuel for intention or as my coach Phil is fond of saying, "necessity is the mother of intention."
I took an ice climbing course in the first year of college. I was 18 years-old. To cap off the course, the instructor and the six of us students made an ascent of the Silverhorn route on Mt. Athabasca in the Columbia ice fields. In retrospect, we had no business being there.
This was the first mountain I climbed, as it was for the rest of the novices and for a reason I never understood, the instructor put me on the lead. All the way up, false summit after false summit we crept slowly up the face, getting increasingly sunburned and increasingly exposed to a long fall. We were all anchored to the face only by our collective ice axes and conceivably a slip by any of us could have brought all of us crashing down.
The whole way, the second on my rope was panicking and irrationally chanting, "we gotta go down, we gotta go down." Once we started up the only way off was up. There was no practical way to retreat. I had to keep him from losing his shit and we had to keep going. The survival instinct is the ultimate necessity but a great deal of what we desire is not really at that same emotional level.
How do we elevate the importance of something to it get done? Each of us has a core driving need impelling us forward. For some it's challenge, others fun or control or intimacy or validation or novelty or accomplishment. Mine is relevance. To say that I have strong intention, is to say that I am prepared to handle whatever challenges come along. If I have done the head and heart work to align my goal to my need for relevance, the activities I need to complete to achieve the goal fulfill that need. I then have all the energy I need to sustain the charge to the summit.
This post concludes the summer adventure of simplicity, freedom and making clean choices with Brett Wilson and John Francis. You can order the book here. Next week we begin the fall adventure of realism and inspiration with Shane Evans and Rachel Mielke.