What is enough? When will I do enough? When will I be enough?
Every one of us wrestles with these questions. The danger is that we seek our validation from external sources instead of finding those answers within us for ourselves. If you haven’t already, please go back and read Part 1 of this blog post which walks us through the importance of our first step in finding our way back to enough – (Re)Building Connection.
In Part 2 we will explore the second step, Restoring Intention. The goal of step 2 is to become mindful of and present to what we want. As a reminder, in step 1 we create more conscious awareness of who we are and what we are doing. We can’t know we are enough if we don’t know who we are, and we can’t know we are doing enough if we aren’t consciously aware of what we are doing.
In this phase of finding our way to enough we have to better understand our own needs and desires.
Questions to help us restore our intention include:
What is meaningful and valuable?
What does success mean to me?
What matters most right now?
Where can I remove noise?
For much of my own life and career I pursued money and status and material things, but as I became more mindful of and present to the desires of my heart I realized that what I desired most was peace.
That realization required me to rearchitect much of my life and rethink many of my daily choices. We are all in pursuit of something, some idea of success, but many of us don’t really know what that looks and feels like. Spend some time with these questions and let that small voice inside you be heard.
A story about restoring intentions that didn’t result in change, but did bring peace
Now, before you get scared off and decide you don’t want to do this work of restoring your intentions, let me tell you a story about a client of mine. Let’s call him John. John is a very successful and wonderful human by all accounts. He has a great family, a lucrative career, and a life where he doesn’t want for anything.
When he came to me to explore coaching, he shared that he “had it all” and yet he was still unsettled and feeling like something just wasn’t quite right. John was a big and deep thinker. Always reading and learning. We got into many deep, philosophical discussions about life.
As we started our journey together, we began with step 1. John did some big work reconnecting with himself and bringing to his conscious awareness who he was and what he was doing. He saw himself, the person he had become, in new ways.
As we took step 2 it became clear that the restlessness and discomfort were growing stronger. When I asked him the questions listed above, he was hesitant to share his answers with me. After some additional encouragement, he prefaced all he was about to say with, “I’m afraid to say this out loud because of what you will make me do about it.”
After a good chuckle, I told him that I was not here to tell anyone what to do. “It’s your life. This is simply safe space to explore your inner world. Whatever actions are taken on what you are about to say are up to you alone to decide,” I told him.
He looked at me for reassurance that I would not judge him or make him do anything, that he was really safe to say whatever it was and possibly leave it all right here. I nodded and he said, “I’ve come to realize that the work I do and the people I work with are no longer aligned to what’s meaningful and valuable to me. In fact, I don’t even know if I’m in the right industry based on how I have changed.”
This was big. I asked some questions to keep him talking, processing these feelings that we both knew had been stored down deep for a long time. When I knew he had exhausted the processing, I asked, “Now what?”
John decided that he would do nothing different that day. He would sit with these things and consider his options. As the weeks went on and we continued to meet, he decided that changing industries and careers wasn’t what he felt called to. It was simply knowing why he felt the way he felt that gave him peace to move forward in a new way. To be more intentional.
Sometimes it’s just the knowing that we need to find our way to enough.
Practices to help us restore intention
Once we have more clarity on our intentions (what we want), it’s important we put practices in place to stay clear on them. These practices become even more important if you are ready and willing to take different action. We’ve been in a pattern of thinking and doing for so long, and we have to have a way to disrupt that pattern and bring more alignment to our intentions and actions.
First, I will share a daily practice you can use that will actually help you with steps 1 and 2. It’s called SNAP – Stop, Notice, Ask, Pivot.
To rebuild connection and restore intention, the first thing we have to do is Stop – actively switch out of autopilot and bring our conscious awareness to the present moment. We can more fully do this by Noticing what’s happening around and inside us. What are you doing right now? What can you see, smell, taste, hear and touch? How are you feeling? What are you thinking about?
Next we Ask ourselves a set of questions. You can insert many different questions here depending on your situation, but the idea is to interrupt your thought or behavior pattern and give you space to intentionally choose your thoughts and actions. Questions we like to use are:
What am I believing?
Is it true? Helpful?
Why is this important?
Where am I seeking validation?
What do I need right now?
The answers to these questions bring a level of self-awareness and give us a pause to recenter and reground. When we do that, we can create enough space to choose differently which leads to our next word in the acronym, Pivot.
Pivot is the intentional choice to act or speak from a place of intentionality and wholeness, instead of react. We break a pattern and choose what we do next. So many of our reactions are based in fear which perpetuates fear and anxiety and overwhelm. Using SNAP in our daily lives allows us to act from love and openness, which perpetuates calm and confidence. Restoring our intention allows us to live into knowing and believing that we are enough.
In addition to SNAP, some other practices that restore intention are:
Reflection – by setting aside even a few minutes each day to reflect on what we have done, are doing, and what we want, we start to build more alignment from our inner world to our outer world.
Journaling – writing down our thoughts and feelings helps us see on paper what is happening inside us that can be hard to grasp until it is in black and white. Journaling requires us to bring mind, body and spirit back together.
Meditation – creating space can be one of the most important things we can do. Silence and solitude allow us to quiet the noise, including everyone else’s opinions and expectations, and allow our own heart to speak.
Gratitude – practicing gratitude helps us to see what is right in front of us. We are often focused on all we don’t have or all we are working toward, and forget to celebrate what is right here…right where we are.
Creating – when we do things just for fun, our spirit comes back to life in ways we can’t explain. Playing, painting, drawing, coloring or any other form of making that is “for nothing” opens space for us to remember how beautiful and light the world can be. These tasks can also keep our hands busy while our heart and mind open and flow…so for those who can’t get their mind around meditation, reflection or journaling, creating is a great option!
Affirmations – living into our potential and who we could be is always just a little out of our grasp. In order to continue to evolve our words and actions, we must refine our heart and mind. Affirmations or “I am” statements can be a powerful way to help us see new visions for ourselves and the world that then we can become.
My ask of you to work toward restoring your intention is to choose one of these and implement it in your daily or at least your weekly practice. One of my favorite “small steps” is simply taking time at the end of each day to reflect on 1-3 things you did to positively contribute to the world around you. It could be something as simple, yet powerful as smiling and saying hello to a stranger. Showing up with restored intention to put good in the world…that simple heart shift…really can change the world around you.
Remember, this step is about becoming mindful of and present to what we really want. Many of us are doing and being enough, we just need a way to be present to it and more mindful…we need to bring intention back to what we are already doing or who we are being. When we see there are misalignments, we can address them and live more fully and wholeheartedly and in that journey we will find our way to enough.
Written by: Lindsay Leahy, Dream Builder at The Restoration Project
Get it touch: firstname.lastname@example.org