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I once had the intention of becoming the lead singer of a band. Yes I was young and hopeful, but I also had a decent voice, and a passion for music. I didn’t keep that intention though. As happens to many people, my intentions were sidelined by “real life.”
Determined to act
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines intention as this:
A determination to act in a certain way: RESOLVE.
Had I kept my intention, I would be a singer in a band today. And I could set that intention once again, and if determined enough, I could make it happen.
Determination is a key word here, and a key part of intention. Being determined means standing firm in a decision and not changing it. And truth be told, this can FREAK YOUR BRAIN OUT.
If you’re not up on all the hip kid lingo, FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This is a very real thing in the complex web of human thoughts and emotions. This is one of the reasons why we so easily get addicted to social media. What if we miss something important?
When it comes to making a firm decision, it’s pretty much guaranteed that FOMO will kick in the moment you decide. What if it’s the wrong decision? What if choosing the other thing would have been better? Is the grass greener on the other side?
Questions like these can lead to decision fatigue, and decision fatigue can lead to no decision being made. And with no decision made, you’re not creating a life of intention. You’re creating a life of confusion for yourself.
Trust and action
What if you just trusted yourself in a decision? What if there were no wrong decisions? Even if it might seem in a moment that a decision was wrong, could you reframe your thoughts around it and challenge yourself to find something that was right? This is sliver lining mentality, but let’s look at your options:
- spin out in indecision and never make a choice
- spin out in indecision for a long period of time, but finally make a choice
- make a choice now and all goes perfectly according to plan
- make a choice now and all doesn’t go perfectly according to plan
The great thing about the last two options? At least you get out of decision fatigue. You get to move forward. Decisions in life come with consequences, both “good” and “bad.” The reason it’s easy to spend so much time in indecision is fear of the consequences.
Consequences will happen to you, regardless of whether you make a decision or not.
If you waste time not deciding, you’ll pay the consequences of losing that time. Plus you’ll deal with the mental anguish of still having the decision on your plate.
So if you’re going to have to deal with consequences either way, and you’ll have to deal with some negative feelings either way, why not make a decision to possibly better your life? Sure it could go wrong, but at least you’ll know and grow from your new found knowledge.
Deliberate, or intentional thinking, comes from your prefrontal cortex. Habit, or conditioned thought, comes from lower (literally) regions of your brain.
In order to think with intention, you have to practice thinking more often through your cortex. Anytime you become mindful, or aware, you’re in your cortex. You’re in the higher part of your brain that takes you out of autopilot, and requires thoughtfulness.
It also requires more energy, so your lower brain will try and lull you back down into it, back into automatic, habitual thinking, because it’s easier to do. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it will create the same life day in and day out. If it’s not the life you want, you’ve got to rise back up into your cortex, into awareness.
This is exactly what happens during meditation. If you don’t already meditate, do yourself a favor and start a practice. In just minutes a day you can start to train your brain to spend more time thinking through your cortex.
And that’s how you think intentionally to get the life you want.
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