Making Intentions Real: 5 Tips to Get Unstuck and Take Action

5 Tips to Turn Intentions Into Action

Have you ever been stuck between your intentions to make a change and actually taking action? Me too! So I decided to take action by committing to one intention for a week. This is what I learned.  Listen to this post above, or read an edited transcript below.

Hello, this is Janet Kodish, life design coach and founder of My UnRetired Life.

Today I’m going to share with you 5 lessons that I learned from my experiment in committing to take action on one of my intentions.

If you’ve been following along in the My UnRetired Life FB group, you know that last week I set an intention to up my energy, specifically, my physical energy.  I like how I feel when I’m in great physical shape – strong, supple, energized.  I wanted to get that feeling back again.

I vowed to exercise every day for a week. I don’t think of myself as an athlete, unless you count pounding on a keyboard as exercise. I’ve held exercise as a “should” in my life:  I should get to the gym, I should walk around the block. Have you ever been there?  Stuck between being unsatisfied, wanting to be different but not ready to actually Doing it? That’s me when it comes to exercise!

I know from experience that the best way to make a change for myself is to start by publicly declaring my commitment to my intentions. So that’s what I did. I posted a FB challenge to honor One Intention and publicly share our progress through the week.

Here are 5 lessons I learned (or re-learned):

1. Declare your intention and get support. Posting my intention on FB was HARD.  Posting every day felt vulnerable. But, ask for help and it will come. Folks cheered me on. Even if no one cheers – so what?  You never know how your example may inspire others. Declaring your intentions out loud is energizing. It makes you accountable. Getting support back felt great.

2. Labels Keep You Stuck.  I learned (again) that the negative label of “not being athletic” was keeping me safe. It became an insidious self-confirming argument. It went like this: I want greater energy, I want to feel strong, so I set an intention to exercise regularly. But inside I’m saying, “I’m not an athlete.” So it’s really not my fault when I don’t act like one. Flip the negative label. It was incredibly empowering to say, “Look at me at the gym! I’m pumping iron! I’m so athletic!”

3. When I dropped the bargaining, everything got easier. A typical Monday morning would go like this:

Internal Voice #1: “Time to get to the gym so that I can feel strong and full of energy.”
Internal Voice #2: “It’s too hard to get to the gym on Monday; I’ll make it up on Friday.”” 
V1: “But you know it’s the right thing to do.”
V2: “But I don’t wanna! I’m not a naturally athletic person.”
Arggh!  By the time I finally gave in to putting off my workout, I was exhausted.   The fact is, there’s always a reason to NOT do the thing.  To not follow our intentions. Our current self likes things as they are. Stasis will always trump our future desired self if we let it into the argument. This week, I just got up and did the thing. No negative labels. No arguing.  It was liberating. It was energizing.

4. Structure is Freedom. Time management is the most important skill we must master as UnRetirees.  I slotted exercise in every day. Life magically organized itself around that priority. Putting “daily walk” in my calendar made it easier to say “no,” to distractions and other demands on my time. It gave solidity to my day.

What if one of your intentions is an attitude change?  You can still schedule it by attaching your intention to something that you do every day. For example, say your intention is to be kind. How do you want to express your kindness?  That could be really listening to your family at dinner.  Then organize your day so that you are fully present for that dinner conversation.

5. Celebrate small wins. I walked around my neighborhood like an explorer, thinking about the theme for the day. I got a different perspective on familiar places. I learned that I didn’t need to go far to have a mini-adventure. Do one small thing different. Do it consistently. And celebrate!

The Payoff:  I Felt Great!! The commitment to daily exercise had a big ripple effect.  I got stronger at the gym, and with physical fitness as the theme, I naturally reduced sugar. (I couldn’t say no to ice cream.) My whole day was happier.

So the five big take-aways:

  • Declare your intentions out loud. It makes it real. It makes you accountable. It attracts support.
  • Flip the negative label that’s keeping you stuck.
  • Drop the internal argument; commit and DO.
  • Schedule it!
  • Celebrate small wins.  You did it! You listened! You got a new perspective! You grew! Every little thing counts.  Just keep doing it.

So, give an Intention Challenge a try. I’d love to hear what intention you are setting for the week.  Drop a comment in the UnRetired Life FB group, or email me directly at janet @  I read every email.

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