In 2015 I was reading a book on meditation at breakfast. I had just left my career in digital media and technology and was awestruck by the idea of intentions. Later that day I got the word tattooed on my wrist.
Because the script is hard to read, sometimes people ask me if my tattoo says “intervention.” I used to be really offended by this, mostly because I was ashamed of how much I used to drink. But then one day I realized I did have an intervention — with myself.
In June 2015 I left on a trip and declared I was going to come back happy. I had no idea how that was going to happen. Two weeks later I returned a changed woman, and resigned from my job (and career) the very next day.
I had set an intention before I knew setting intentions was even a thing.
This, my friends, is a story of intentions.
After completing my job in Hawaii in November 2019, I spent most of the month to follow in hibernation. This is partly because I was sick for two weeks with what I now believe to be COVID, although at the time I told myself it was just my body recovering from work. (It was probably both.) I also needed some space from my former coworkers.
As a result, I spent most of my time watching Hallmark Christmas movies, talking to potential coaches and working through Lacy Phillip’s Unblocked Shadow workshop, which was enlightening to say the least.
One day I was on the phone talking with my former coach and shared something I had been thinking about. I wanted to work with male CEOs on navigating the feminine shift.
“I love this for you,” he said.
This was echoed to me by everyone I dared to share it with from that point on.
Consequently, I scheduled calls, made some bold moves and (after five years of avoiding it) established my LLC, filed for a registered agent and opened a legitimate business banking account.
What I didn’t realize at the time though, was that by asking men to embrace the feminine, I was going to be asked to do the same.
This is because you can only go as deep with others as you can go with yourself, and being in my feminine was not exactly my strong suit.
Now to be clear, masculine energy is not bad; it’s necessary. It’s the energy that helps us get things done. It’s logical, disciplined, active and assertive. It also exists in significant contrast to the feminine, which is intuitive, in flow, emotional and surrendered.
And regardless of your gender, we all thrive when these things are in balance.
As I continued to take action towards my idea, I began to realize how out of balance I was. I was motivated to make a difference, yes, but even more so by money and fear. I worried that if I didn’t keep going I’d lose my momentum or miss an opportunity, or worse that someone would steal my idea. (Many of these things describe the shadow side of the masculine.) I felt myself pushing things along as a result, versus going with the flow.
Meanwhile, all I said I wanted to do was take a break.
And after the six weeks “off” that my husband and I had agreed to, I realized that apart from being sick I had hardly rested at all.
The following week I was on a walk listening to a podcast by well-known coach, Rich Litvin. He was speaking with a woman who was completely burnt out. After listening to her story he put her on a 90-day client ban, meaning she was not to create a single client for 90 days.
Suddenly I found myself sobbing on the sidewalk.
(I cried a lot in Hawaii, huh?)
I knew with my entire being that he was talking to me too.
I didn’t want to go back to working so hard yet. I wanted a break. But more than anything, I wanted things to be different. I wanted to operate from a different place inside of me, and had no idea how to do that yet.
Thus began my Hawaiian sabbatical.
After speaking with my husband, I gave myself 90 days to just be. It felt radical given that I had already put things in motion with various CEOs, and I did it anyway. The only promise I made to myself during this time was that if I felt the desire to do something, I would.
For the first 30 days I did a lot of nothing, and by nothing I mean I sat on the couch, which was punctuated by walks, runs, yoga, pilates and meditation (which resulted in a lot of naps.) I also took an astrology course, learned about optimal LinkedIn profiles and watched some Netflix documentaries.
That might sound like a lot, but in truth it wasn’t. It was perhaps an hour or two every day. Some days I had a plan, and other days I did not. I let my intuition guide me either way. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t. And if I did but I was tired, I honored that first.
It was the first time I really listened to and honored my desires in real-time, rather than after years of waiting.
(Rebound rate, remember?)
What I noticed after some time is that whether it was 30 days or 30 minutes, if I honored my desire to do nothing my desire to do something almost always came back. The way it played out just looked different than my plan.
Eventually I learned to trust the flow.
I also realized that taking a break was nothing more than that: taking a break.
A few weeks into my sabbatical, I felt moved to hire a new coach…”to help me do more of nothing?” you ask.
Well, sort of.
My desire to work was creeping back in and while I wasn’t fully ready to commit yet, what I knew for sure is that I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to maintain the same level of fluidity I had discovered with work in the picture. I wanted work to be a part of my life rather than to dictate it.
And that’s when I realized it all came back to an intention I had set in 2019, which was to birth a book and a baby in 2020.
This was perhaps the most profound realization of all.
Through the rollercoaster of our trip gone wrong, moving to Hawaii, and realizing that my interests outside of work were more important to me than a salaried job with benefits, I had (unknowingly) been creating my ideal lifestyle the entire time.
It was so obvious in hindsight.
All of the turmoil and shifts and changes were making way for an entirely new way of being with my work. I no longer wanted work to be my first priority, I wanted to trust that I could take time away without everything falling apart, and I wanted to trust that I could do things in less time than I ever thought possible before.
All of this has served me immensely prior to having a baby.
As my old coach once said to me, “the Universe isn’t stupid.”
That’s the thing with intentions. Once you set them, as Paolo Coelho says in The Alchemist, all the Universe conspires to help you achieve it. You may not love the process, but no one said you had to. You only need to be willing to go on the ride.
45 days into my sabbatical I began working again, simply because I wanted to, and I have had no regrets since.
I signed my first new CEO client 10 days later, and three weeks after that I began working with people on career transitions again. It was so easy and so fun that I honestly didn’t believe it would last. However, my overall lifestyle has remained the same.
It turns out that honoring what you want to do versus what you think you “should” do makes all the difference in the world.
So with that said, here are some learnings:
1. Doing nothing is still doing something.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with productivity. We’ve been taught that doing is more important than being, and as a result we often label things like resting or taking breaks as lazy (even when we say it in jest.) I have many things to say about this, and the most important one is that doing “nothing” could be the greatest gift you ever give yourself, whether it’s for 30 minutes or 30 days.
My husband equates this idea to savasana, the final resting pose in yoga. It’s said to be the most important one because it allows the body to integrate the benefits of your practice. It also tends to be the time when inspiration comes through.
2. The Universe isn’t stupid.
Whether it’s an opportunity to move, the boss you’re given or the message you hear at just the right time, there is magic in everything. As Albert Einstein said, “there are only two ways to live. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
In addition, change takes time. It’s a process, not an event. For what it’s worth, I see my clients go through five key phases when it comes to creating change. The first has to do with realizing that you want it, and setting a clear goal or intention as a result. The second involves dealing with whatever has been in the way of creating that change (thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, etc.) After all, if these things weren’t in the way, you would have done the thing already.
So during this stage, the Universe gives you opportunities and helps you make progress, even though it may not always feel like it.
3. You can do something simply because you want to.
When I had the idea to begin coaching executives I had reasons why, but more than anything it’s because I wanted to.
As I have belabored in past newsletters, logic is overrated. Desire and curiosity are the absolute best guides you can follow. They are like breadcrumbs, leading you where you’re meant to go. This means that what you want matters, whether it’s a new career or a baby or a sabbatical or a relationship or a move. If you want it, you don’t need to justify it. All you need to do is honor it when you’re ready.
It might also be helpful to know that what you want wants you too. Plus the etymology of the word “desire” means “of God” or “of the stars” (aka there may be a reason that you want it that is part of a much bigger plan.)
4. Intentions are everything.
As I shared in a post early last year, intentions are not a hope or a wish. They are also not something that would be nice to have. Intentions are a commitment and a statement; one you treat as truth and act out as fact. (If you’d like to read the rest of the post, click here.)
From my point of view, intentions are also different than goals (even though I sometimes use the words interchangeably.) Goals are something to strive for, whereas intentions are something you live out every day.
If you want to create meaningful change in your life, consider creating intentions rather than goals. And if you need help remembering this, feel free to get it tattooed on your wrist. I know a guy.