During my early 20’s I was lonely. While I had a core group of friends, for around 3 years, I felt as though my life was lacking because I was missing that “special someone” to share it with. I wanted the Joey to my Dawson/Pacey, the Winnie to my Kevin, or the Rachel to my Ross.
To find the girl who was going to “complete me,” every Thursday, Friday, Saturday (and a bunch of Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays too), I would head out to the bars with friends and “look for chicks.” I became an expert at looking at girls, but that’s about all I was doing during this time. There was a fling or two mixed in, but for the most part, the only thing I was accomplishing at the bars was losing my hard-earned money to the bartender, getting my white Pumas all covered in bar sludge, and nearly putting a Coors Lite induced hole into my liver.
Frequently, after coming home “empty handed,” my friends would “jone” or “rip on” me for my inept “game” at the bars. When I would happen to score a phone number, I’d usually break things off after a date or two when I could see we weren’t simpatico. These weren’t exactly happy days and I began to think something was wrong with me or that I wasn’t wanted or interesting to the opposite sex.
It wasn’t until recently that I figured out “my problem” during this time. For 3 years, my intention in going out to the bars, wasn’t to bring home a girl for the night, it was to find a life partner. Well, you don’t typically find the Joeys, Winnies, and Rachels of the world at a bar after drinking a six pack of beer and three shots of fireball. Furthermore, special someone’s aren’t ordered up like a Chipotle burrito, it takes time and effort to meet the match that will culminate in an epic season ending finale with U2 playing, “With or Without You” in the background. Wanting me to “earn it,” the universe heard my intention and gave me exactly what I deserved – a lot of lonely nights and hungover mornings.
Looking back on these days, I am actually proud and can see (with clear eyes) how on the mark I was. My intention was exactly what I wanted it to be – find someone to spend the rest of my life with. At the time, I thought I had a problem with who I was, but this wasn’t my problem at all. My problem was I was lacking the confidence that I was seeking the right outcome (a partner versus a hookup). Overall, my intention gave me a perceived long and dark period of time, but ultimately led to my wife and the happiest years of my life.
In a round-about way, I came to realize the power of intention through my meditation practice. For those of you who have attended a yoga class, read up on meditation, or have a friend who owns any Lululemon gear, you may have heard the comment, “set your intention.” I have heard this comment numerous times and in a variety of settings and would usually respond with, “go f yourself Mr. Intention Man,” or “relaxation, my intention is to FING RELAX!!!” During the first meditation retreat I attended, our instructor offered the suggestion to “bow to your chair and set your intention” before sitting to meditate. Nearly all the participants did this and I thought it looked ridiculous (however, as I wanted to ‘fit in,’ you better believe I bowed to my chair as well while thinking, “this is D.U.M.B.”) You can probably imagine how my meditation “went” during that retreat.
Fast forward two years to the retreat I just attended in April and my mind was cracked a little more open. As a result, prior to sitting down to meditate, I now put my hands together, make a slight bow and in my head repeat my current intention – “I sit to seek Freedom, Unity and Curiosity.” Readers of the blog will recognize this intention as being the values I have written about previously. Has setting an intention worked? More than I could have imagined. Trust me when I say that my life is filled with more Freedom, more Unity, and more Curiosity than ever before.
In my opinion, being intentional is one of the most important tools we have in the living life with purpose artillery. While goals are for the future, intent is what you seek in the present. Prior to setting an intention, I would just sit down to meditate without any stated reason for doing so, other than, “because I have a daily meditation practice and I haven’t meditated yet today.” Doing something just because I always do it, is a pretty terrible reason for doing anything.
Intentionless meditation is just sitting. While every meditation practice needs to start somewhere, I’ve probably spent 30 minutes of every day for the past 2 years, just sitting. Many of you will judge this time wasted, I see it as time perfectly spent. I am in a better place today because of this newfound awareness of what meditation can actually be.
Today, my meditation practice has morphed into an opportunity to focus my energy on what’s most important to me – that with which I value the most. In my eyes, the results have been undeniable.
In the past, I was envious of those who were religious and prayed to a higher power. Hearing people say, “I prayed for XXX and my prayers were answered,” sounded like such a wonderful call and response. While I remain doubtful that a god would have answered my prayers for a “to meet the real Optimus Prime” or a “Washington Nationals World Series victory,” the ability to have faith that someone is listening is a wonderful comfort. I am certainly no authority on anything, but if I had to guess, I would guess that regardless of whether or not there is a god out there listening, such prayer or intention setting works because doing so points us in the right direction.
For example, if every day I say to myself, “I intend to seek Freedom, Unity and Curiosity,” and truly mean it, then it makes sense that my focus will be on those things that pop up in my life that bring me closer to these values.
If you don’t believe in the power of intention, ask yourself this, “why did you read this blog post?” In my opinion, there is a known or unknown reason you came. It could be you were intending to waste 10 minutes of your lunch break at work. Or maybe you value other people’s experience and intended to read about something that would better your life. Or maybe you’re reading because your intention was to escape your crying children and just want to hear about someone else’s sh*t. Or maybe you had no intention at all and are just spending your days wandering aimlessly around the internet. Whatever your intention, I hope you get what you are looking for.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.