Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Get Clear About Your Intentions and Create Lasting Lifestyle Changes

Infinite ClarityImage by Rockinelle via FlickrBy Jennifer J Johnson

Most of us are interested in living our best lives. On the journey toward living our best lives, we are all working to change something - our jobs, our bodies, our schedules, our eating habits, our exercise habits, our self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, our ability to take action in spite of our self-doubts and fears, our unconscious compulsive habits, or our work/play balance.

When we're contemplating lifestyle changes, getting clear about our intentions and finding a way to keep them in the focus of our daily attention is key.

For example, it's one thing to say that our goal is to lose weight, but it's another to get clear about our intentions behind the desire to lose weight. Perhaps what's driving the goal of weight loss is the desire to improve our health and well-being, the desire to feel more energetic, or the desire to feel better about ourselves.

Getting clear about our intentions is the first step. There are several ways that you can go about clarifying your intentions. Writing about them is a great way to get clear, as is asking the questions, "What is my intention? What matters most to me?" during our meditation practice.

Once we've clarified our intentions, it's useful to find or create a visual image that represents our intentions. For instance, if the intention is to lose weight in order to improve health and well-being, find or creating a photograph of something that represents health and well-being. Placing the photograph on our desk at work, where we'll see it throughout the day keeps our attention on our intentions and can serve to keep us focused and guide us in making the decisions and choices throughout the day that support those intentions.

Similarly, once we've achieved our goals, continuing to focus on our intentions can support us in making ongoing choices that support lasting changes. Keeping this focus on our intentions can help us to generate positive and focused responses to the negative or defeating thoughts that can sometimes take us off track from achieving our goals.

For example, if we're trying to lose weight and we pass by the cookie counter, we may have the thought, "I want a cookie," and if we're aware of it and say to ourselves, "I shouldn't have that," we may then have a defeating thought, such as, "It won't hurt me to have just one." Of course, eating that one cookie typically leads to more negative thoughts, such as, "Wow, I've blown it now. I may as well eat two," and that thought may lead us to feel entitled to engage in poor eating habits for the rest of the day.

However, if we can stay focused on our intention, that we want to lose weight to feel more energetic and be able to run with our kids, keeping the long-term goal and intention can keep us focused and help us to say no to eating the cookie.

Try to make some time this week to focus on your intentions. Take 20 minutes to sit quietly and consider the questions, "What are my intentions?" and "What matters most to me?" and see what emerges in response. Or try writing about your thoughts in response to those questions.

Jennifer Johnson is a psychotherapist, wellness coach, writer, and photographer. She coaches people all over the world to dare to live life through being well, managing stress, and living their full creative potential. Jennifer works with people struggling with stress, time management, food/weight issues, chronic illness (including celiac disease, allergies, and environmental illness), anxiety, and depression.

She provides individual coaching internationally by phone and Skype. When Jennifer isn't coaching people to dare to live their lives, she's daring to live her own life through her writing and photography.

Jennifer Johnson, MS, MFA
http://www.daretolivelife.com
http://www.jenniferjohnsoncreative.com

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