Intention is powerful. Research shows it can change your reality, heal your body, cure diseases, achieve goals, enhance performance, increase wealth, ease pain, and even help other people.
The good news is intention doesn’t cost anything and everyone has it; we’re using it whether we are aware of it or not.
Given the powers of intention, and the fact that you are using it no matter what, it is a tool worth developing.
I’m going to share with you five practices that will help you in becoming an intention ninja.
1. Focus on Your Desired Outcome
The first practice is to stay focused on the desired outcome. Staying focused can be extremely difficult in our modern world with all of its technology.
According to research done by Chris Bailey, our minds are overstimulated and crave distractions. Each time we check Facebook or get distracted by a website or a YouTube video, our brain rewards us with a hit of dopamine—the feel-good hormone. This causes us to want more—more DISTRACTION. More distraction equals less FOCUS.
The antidote is to set up your environment for less distractions. Turn off your phone, work offline, or switch your computer to a “Do Not Disturb” mode.
Another way to stay focused on the desired outcome is to write down your desired outcome. Place it in an area where you see it during the day. I put my intention on a sticky note on my bathroom mirror. Each time I wash my hands, there it is to read, remember, and wire into my brain. This primes your brain to pay attention to your goal. Your brain will filter through the billions of bits of information that you are bombarded with throughout the day and focus on opportunities to achieve this intention.
2. Let Go of Mistakes
Mastering intention requires letting go of your mistakes. Carol Dweck, an expert in the field of motivation, found that school kids who understood that their abilities would grow with effort were more successful. They were able to take on challenges rather than avoid them. She calls this a growth mindset.
Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Successful people focus on their wins and their growth. If you have made a mistake in the past, write down what you learned from it. What nugget of good came from making that mistake? Keep the learning and the good and let go of the rest.
NFL quarterback Brett Favre had more completions than another quarterback, but he also had more interceptions. Mistakes mean you are in the game. You won’t make a mistake standing on the sidelines. You have to be in the game taking action to create the results you would love in your life! The next time you make a mistake, say, “I’m in the game. This is a sign that I’m on the road to my success.”
3. Practice Meditation
*The Mayo Clinic states that meditation “may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.” They share that people who meditate experience more self-awareness, are able to stay focused in the present moment, reduce negative emotions, and increase imagination and creativity, just to name a few benefits.*Meditation trains your mind to focus and helps the brain to achieve “alpha” brain states, which increase brain coherence and creativity, and reduce anxiety and depression.
Meditation and mindfulness practices help develop the mind-body connection. Developing your mind-body connection increases cognitive function and resilience, according to Dr. Tara Swart, in her book Source.
4. Practice with a Mental Rehearsal
**The most successful athletes practice mental rehearsal. Muhammad Ali was a master at mental rehearsal. He would imagine and live the fight moment by moment. He would see in his mind’s eye his opponent’s jabs and then feel his own body’s response. He imagined the fatigue he would feel after the fight. By the time he got in the ring, he had already won the fight.
Why is mental rehearsal so powerful? The brain doesn’t distinguish between the actual physical performing and just thinking about doing the action. The nerves and muscles lay down the tracks just as well as the physical practice does.
Here’s an example from a study of downhill skiers. They imagined (mentally rehearsed) the downhill runs. The brain sent the same instructions to the body whether they were rehearsing it in their minds or actually skiing the runs. Their thoughts produced the same instructions to the body.
The key to mental rehearsal is that you replicate the specific outcome you want. If you want to be a bestselling author, imagine yourself signing the inside of your book with the words “Bestselling Author” on the cover and handing your book over to the happy person who is thrilled to get a signed copy from you—the bestselling author!
Put all five of your senses into the image. Feel it, smell it, taste it, hear it, see it. Imagine the potential obstacles and how you move around them.
5. Let Go and Surrender the Outcome to a Higher Power
This is a step that people often forget. Let go and surrender to a higher power. It seems counterintuitive. Here you are being specific, writing down your intention, mentally rehearsing it, and taking action. How can you just stop and let go of the outcome when you are focusing so much on it!
For one, our brains can only imagine what we can perceive and the universe can organize itself to deliver your intention in ways you can’t even imagine. I always like to end my intention with “this or something better” and “Let the magic begin.”
It is a reminder that I am not all-knowing and I can let go of the “how.” My job is to stay focused on “what would I love.” I don’t need to know how it is going to happen. I just need to know what my next step is.
Let the magic begin now.