I believe in people’s basic goodness.
I believe that your desires are worthy and your birthright.
I believe that the explosion of self-help is an expression of our deep desire to connect and live from love.
That said, I’m a down-to-brass-tacks gal. I genuinely want people to change their lives, and when I see that a whole lotta people are buying into a concept, but that it isn’t actually translating to a better life for someone, I get a bit dubious.
“Dreaming big” and setting intentions falls into that category.
The internet is full of intentions. People sign up for e-courses but don’t finish them. They proclaim they’re going to change XYZ, without following through. They ride the high of their intentions for six months to create a website, blog, and business packages…and then stop updating things altogether.
There’s always some seemingly good reason for quitting, but really, the reasons for quitting on something are typically the exact same challenges that people who keep with it are facing: life gets busy. Time or money seem in short supply. Illness happens.
Same challenges; different response. The response makes all the difference.
On their own? Intentions alone aren’t really worth a damn.
Click to tweet that: http://clicktotweet.com/bTD0i
They’re like window-shopping, a lovely pleasure, but without ever doing the gritty but necessary work of procuring the job and working the hours so that you can get the money so that you can afford the thing in the window (or finding some other innovative and creative way to bring to fruition that which you desire).
Since I’m all about facing fear, let me be transparent: I fear that you’ll think I’m hard or that I pooh-pooh on your good intentions, or that I’m looking down on you because I always follow through on what I start (definitely not the case); or that I don’t acknowledge that sometimes, in that wide expanse of time before something can come to fruition, holding your intentions close to your heart is the best a person can do.
I’m hoping that you’ll see that in pointing out the potentially hard-to-swallow truth that intentions alone don’t get the job done, you’ll see the love and the deep desire that I have for all people to end their own self-imposed suffering.
When it’s another year of good intentions, without much actual life change, people suffer. The door is wide open for the inner critic. Life seems more meh.
Dreaming Big + Living Big
Most of the self-help work out there rarely goes beyond the stage of setting intentions. Plenty of people sell “dreaming big.” Dreaming big is fun! You think of all the things you want or desire. There are lists to be made and visualization exercises to complete. You will probably end up setting a lot of…intentions.
Dreaming big is fun. Living big? Much harder. The two need to be paired together.
Living big is working through conflicts with someone because you choose to love them unconditionally, not declaring them an “energy vampire” and putting them on your “stop doing list” because that’s “self-care.”
Dreaming big is all about the high of visualizing six-figure deals after you sell the next Great American Novel–and I’m all about it! Visualizing success is a component of success.
But living big is what Aaron Sorkin did, writing A Few Good Men in spare moments on cocktail napkins while he was bartending to make ends meet, and then coming home to empty his pockets and get it all typed up into an old computer that he and a bunch of his roommates had had to chip in to purchase (and then share).
I’m not saying that one is fun and the other isn’t. While it’s more challenging to practice unconditional love, I know that my heart is more open and better off for it. While it’s not ideal to create a masterpiece on napkins, I’m guessing that Sorkin was deeply in a pleasurable, creative flow.
Intention + Integrity
The missing link that gets you from dreaming big, to living big?
Integrity is when your words and actions match, and they are in alignment with your values, beliefs, commitments, and life vision. –Matthew Marzel
Intentions are the vision. Integrity is the vehicle for the vision.
Pair intentions with integrity, and you start making your words and actions match. That alone can be a hurdle. Then you start making sure that they’re in alignment with your values and belief system: hot tamale, Batman! You’re going to find some values that you aren’t honoring and some belief systems that you are living from that need to be dropped like a hot plate.
Pair intentions with integrity, and it becomes clear that you absolutely must pay attention to where you sabotage yourself from over- or under-commitment. Start making a lot of choices in service to your intentions, and you’ll become clearer that this is all feeding into a larger life vision.
Integrity is sexy. It’s a force. When I see someone with a big dream who’s willing to do what it takes to make it happen, simply being around that energy feels irresistible.
We are in this together
Everyone has fear, doubt, or hesitation come up. Everyone has challenging circumstances. Everyone would love more time or money.
The difference between intention and realization is not about pretending to be “fearless,” nor about not having any life challenges, nor about having an abundance of anything. Plenty of people have peachy-keen life circumstances and still live miserable lives (and of course, we can’t forget that if you’ve got a roof over your heard, security in where your next meal is coming from, and access to the internet, chances are good that you qualify as having some pretty “peachy-keen” circumstances, compared to millions of people around the world).
Use your intentions as they were, well, intended to be used: as a jumping off point for expanding possibilities and daring to dream.
Then take the next step. Risk. Risk hard and risk big. Your life is waiting.
The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, with readers getting all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more — and join us! — by clicking here.
I said in this interview with Janelle Allen:
“The more we work with these fears, the less they show up at the beginning of the journey. The trajectory is something along the line of: when it’s totally new, the fears are right there at the front. So you start moving into it and the fear moves a little farther down the line. Instead of “I don’t even think I can start this,” it becomes, “what if I don’t finish this?” So fear morphs and changes and it’s really about how to you work with it along the way.”
When you’re newly working with fear, it can be the thing that stops you from even starting.
Later, as you start to see that fear is full of bluster but that you ultimately call the shots, the fear moves farther down the line. It starts showing up later in the game, perhaps after you’ve made the first significant investment towards what you want.
Then you start practicing courage with fear at that entry point, and you get more confident there, and then you start dealing with fear at a new entry point–perhaps somewhere around the middle of some new journey, when fear is most likely to show up as doldrums and boredom. You might suddenly feel as if all the gas has left you. The resistance can be huge.
Then you start practicing courage with that fear, and you learn that one of the ways that fear shows up is through a strange sort of “boredom-resistance.” That’s par for the course. You learn more about you and start to parse out when it’s truly boredom because the project no longer interests you, and when it’s the boredom-resistance.
The courage/fear timeline shape shifts and morphs. When you’re put into similar circumstances next time, it’ll move. When you encounter something wholly new and unfamiliar, the fear starts right at the beginning again, and the more you work with it, the farther down the line it moves (and the less intimidating it gets).
Bottom line? You’ve got this.
As long as you practice courage, which I define as feeling the fear, diving in anyway, and transforming, you’ve got this.
The fear will continue to show up. Just let it. You’ve got this.
A client called me recently, in a tremendous amount of pain. She’s going through a hard time in her life and she was on social media (yep, we talked about how that’s not a great combo) and she saw someone post something about how other people are less likely to want to be around you, if they can tell that you’re in conflict with yourself.
She, my beautiful and incredible client, is in conflict with herself.*
Reading that social media post, she felt despair at the idea that in addition to the pain she was experiencing, she was possibly repelling other people who see that she is rough and messy and not holding things together so well.
While the person posting might have intended to offer a rallying cry for people to release inner conflicts, the inclusion of the part about being less appealing to other people created the same sort of fear that magazine covers inspire: if you don’t measure up, you’ll be alone.
“I just want to be successful in my life,” my client said.
So I asked her, “Would you know that you were successful in your life, if you weren’t in conflict with yourself?”
To practice courage and move through challenges, you’ve got to examine the beliefs that underpin everything that you think, say, or do. One of the hugest belief systems that I invite people to explore is how they define “success.”
My client paused at this question of how she would know whether she was successful in her life. It didn’t take long for her to arrive at the truth–success is something that is gauged individually. It’s not defined by a social media post, how many people invite you to things, or having a career that you love.
Where the Spirit Meets the Bone
I’ve had this as my email signature for the past two years:
“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even when they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” –Miller Williams”
I have never met a successful person who hasn’t had inner conflict, rough edges, or even some quirks such as being a bit too brash for most people’s tastes, missing social queues, or attracted to eccentricities.
In fact, it’s been those conflicts, rough edges, and quirks that have contributed most to living fully alive.
But I will say this: the most successful people I’ve ever met, at least by my own definition of success, have been the people willing to extend love and compassion to the people who are going through rough spaces and places.
This means not telling people that (or treating people as if) they’ll be less wanted because of their rough edges.
This means acknowledging that we cannot ever truly know “what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.”
This means not holding people up to a measuring stick of goodness or rightness, before you’ll interact with them or deem them friendship-worthy.
(By the way, that “measuring stick mentality” carries with it an arrogant assumption that you will never be in the kind of pain that causes you not to behave so beautifully. Tread with caution if you’re attached to that measuring stick. Life just might humble you.)
Pure, unfiltered, heart-centered love.
Love for the messy, rough edges. And yep, love even for the people who are attached to their measuring sticks. That’s the place where they are at war with themselves. That’s painful, too.
Love. Just love.
That’s my definition of success.
* Yep, I have her blessing to write about this.