In all the years that we have been saying to clients, "Intentions equal results," this past week was the first time the concept of "setting intentions" really seemed to resonate with people. Instead of setting resolutions, sites like Facebook were ablaze with people setting their intentions for the year.
One is about goals and the other is about mindset. Consider how nutritionists and dietitians look for lifestyle changes to help people with optimizing their health (and losing weight). They look less at quick fixes like giving up carbs or cabbage soup diets, and more at long-term changes that make slow, meaningful impact. Using the dieting analogy, you're going to have far better success in the long run if you make a lifestyle change than if you go on a "lose 15 pounds" diet. In fact, eventually, for most dieters, the lack of change to their lifestyle is why the pounds creep back or they fail altogether.
The same difference applies to resolutions vs. intentions. Setting an intention about your life encourages a change at more of a core level. When done correctly, intentions have the ability to create lifelong changes as opposed to "once a year" changes that often fail after the first few weeks.
How does this apply to divorce? For struggling couples, January is an active time. We know that January is the most popular month for US divorces. Why? A whole host of reasons, including that people either gave their relationships one last ditch effort over the holidays (often for the children's sake) or they simply couldn't bear to think of tying the ending of their marriage with the holidays.
If you've found yourself in this uncomfortable, yet crowded boat this winter, you're not alone. Navigating these waters is painful, tricky and tenuous. Yet, some people do genuinely bounce back after divorce. What sets them apart from the folks that get stuck in the grief, is that those who thrive set their intentions on healing and creating a better life. They know that once the grief passes, on the other side awaits a life that is better than the one they are leaving behind.
We don't intend the difficulty that occurs in life to happen, but in the scheme of things, what we intend to make happen does make all the difference. In other words, what you put "out there" in your words, thoughts and actions is what you will attract to your life. If your intention is to thrive through divorce, then nothing will hold you back from making that happen.
As you go through your divorce, it's important to remember that the other side of the grief is a time to start fresh. The gift to you for all of your pain is a clean slate to create the life you want. Divorce closes a door. It's saying goodbye to the life, dreams, aspirations and wishes you had with one person for good.
At some point, the time comes to ask yourself: "Who have I become through all this?"
If your answer is, "A whining, needy, lost individual," then the intention being placed in the world is that you believe that you have lost something valuable of yourself though the divorce; somehow you're less than who you were before. To genuinely thrive, you have to change what you believe to be true about your story. Yes, it was painful and yes, you lost things. Yes, you made mistakes and yes, you played a part in your marriage's demise. But, that does not doom you to a life that's less than wonderful.
To change what you attract to your life, you can practice setting positive, healing intentions to attract more of the experiences you desire. They are not quick fixes, but rather lifestyle choices to plant the seeds for the life you're longing for. By doing work like this, you're setting your focus on the light at the end of the divorce tunnel instead of overly focusing on the pain in the moment.
Here are the five intentions you need to set in order to design and craft a life you love:
Intention 1: Don't make life-altering decisions based on emotions. Park your emotions and make conscious choices about what you want your future to look like. Then, set your course based on these rational choices. Try writing out choices before acting on them and letting those thoughts sit for a few days before doing anything with them. If you still feel the same way after your feelings subside, it's a good indication that logically you agree with your feelings.
Intention 2: Think new. Don't recycle old belief systems. They no longer serve you. If you think like you used to, you'll be filtering all your decisions through your old way of being instead of creating something new. Let your mind and heart explore what a life would be like without the limitations you have in place. Resist the urge to put yourself in a box from your past and try to be bold and brave about the life you really want.
Intention 3: Surround yourself with energetic, positive people who will support your decisions and help prune your life of toxic relationships. If looking around, you find that your friend, family and support people do not line up with your new thinking and beliefs, look for new friends. While making friends may not seem on the surface like an easy thing to do, even you can learn a new trick or two!
Intention 4: Figure out what energizes you and design your life around your energizers. The mental and emotional toll of divorce takes a lot out of people and you're going to need more energy now than you imagine. Rest your mind and body, and listen to your inner voice that tells you what makes you feel good and what zaps you of your luster.
Intention 5: Finally, work on deciding what you want for your future. Think big thoughts and dream outside of the box you've been in. If you are missing people to support you, figure out who they are and start to cultivate those relationships.
Every morning before you dive into the deep end of the day, set your intentions. What do you intend to happen in every aspect of your life (body, mind and spirit) in order to make these 5 points a reality? What do you intend to do as a person, partner, parent, sibling, staffer? Setting intentions as a framework for how you make choices each day makes it much easier to stay on target and make great change by choice happen. They will plant the seeds and nourish a life you love.
The time after a divorce is really a fruitful time for people who embrace the idea of creating the life they dream of. Yes, there is pain in divorce, but your life moving forward does not have to be designed by the story you now hold true in your mind. If you intend to get the best out of life, you will. By its very nature, intentions hold the power to bring in the challenges, obstacles and opportunities to craft a life you can be proud of. Making that happen is all up to you. The great news is that regardless of where you are today, you can make a decision at any point to change your intentions for your life and write a new ending.
Special thanks to Donna Karlin, the Shadow Coach, for her help writing this piece.