As I took another calculated step up the 60 degree slope, I looked up toward where I thought the summit might be.
It still looked really far away. I sighed and said “rest,” and for the umpteenth time, my guide Karo stopped. At 18,000 feet, the exhaustion after many hours of climbing took what little breath I had away.
Karo looked at me with soft eyes and said in an even softer voice, “Karuna, you can totally do this. It is only a moment in time.” Moments later, we were back on our way—crampons and ice axes crunching in the snow.
It would take many more micro-moments to reach the summit of Pico de Orizaba, a volcano outside of Mexico City. It was steep and icy and a bit boring. It took a lot of determination and grit to make my way to the summit. The view at the top was nice and the descent was fast and easy. I’d made my goal to summit Orizaba, but more importantly, I’d learned a big lesson along the way:
Whether life is blissful or dreadful or something in between, it’s just a moment in time.
As we approach February and the shininess of resolutions, intentions, and goals begins to wear away, we are in the season that separates the wheat from the chaff. Do we want whatever change inspired us to put into action the resolution or goal bad enough? Is the friction of habit going to be too much to overcome?
Having worked with intentions to climb mountains big and small, literal and metaphorical, I’d like to share five specific things I know work to achieve results:
1. Remember your motivation and write it down and post pictures. Connect daily with your why. Maybe you’re intent to drink less or quit smoking. Perhaps you want a new job or a healthier relationship. Your mental or physical or financial health might be the reason, but your why might be so that you can play with your grandchildren for many years to come or to retire early in order to enjoy your life. I often look at a picture of Sheryl Crow as an example of my intention. She is fit and leads a fabulous, inspiring life. Maybe for you, pictures of your children or dream home might help when obstacles arise (which they will!).
2. Move beyond a basic understanding of intention. Each year, I offer a workshop on using intention to power up an inspiring life. We always start by dismantling the false notion that intentions are manifestations or woo. Intentions fuel the movement of our mind. In each moment, consciously or not, we are placing our attention using our intention. In relation to our resolutions and goals, are we on the upward spiral of healing and possibility or have we sunk into a negative mind trip? Meditation and mindfulness techniques can help a lot when navigating intentions and the power and habit of our minds.
3. Find community and an accountability partner. We have a 95 percent chance of achieving our goals…but only with the help of our friends. Being in a community reminds us we are not alone. Community also allows us to find other people who want something similar to what we want. We can read what they write and note how they handle challenges they face similar to ours. The American Society of Training and Development, an organization that is all about performance, found that after committing to another person, we are 65 percent likely to reach our goal. This increases dramatically when we check in regularly with them, as we then have a 95 percent chance for success!
4. Don’t make the goal too lofty. Incremental progress is the way to go. It took many tiny baby steps to reach the summit of Orizaba. I would count 19 steps and then have to stop to rest. It took hours to get to the summit after many months of preparation and training. Getting comfortable with small steps each day that adds up to progress each week, that feeds months of achieving goals, is the way to make real and lasting change.
5. Track your progress. Everything changed for me when I set my intention and started living it. However, this was supercharged when I built in three supporting goals and tracked my progress. If our intention is how we want to feel in each moment of the day, our goals are the measurable steps to support our intention. For example, my intention is that I am a healthy, strong mountaineer who inspires others and lives a life without regrets. Getting enough rest, training, and eating right are important for my intention. My goals are trackable. Seeing the progress and success I make along the way (and the negative patterns and habits that detract) helps me see what is and isn’t in support of my intention. It isn’t always obvious and tracking helps.
As the rubber hits the road and we move from the first couple weeks of our resolutions and intentions for 2024, I hope you’ll join me in remembering that this is just a moment in time. It will pass and how you handle this moment will determine how you feel and take action in the next. The journey is absolutely worth the results!
“Eventually you start to see changes. Your mind becomes light, the trees look bright, the air you breathe begins to feel like food for new opportunity, and life takes on a crisp color pattern.” ~ Yung Pueblo