When we set an intention, we take the first step. But, it’s only one step.
The yoga teacher welcomes the student—me—to the mat. Gently and with compassion thanking me for showing up today. Coming to the mat requires commitment. As I settle in cross-legged and begin to breathe, she asks one simple question.
What is your intention?
The question asks more than why I decided to practice yoga today or any day. This profound act of faith starts the day with why. Why am I here?
Then, what will I choose to do with this day? My what, my intention lovingly pulls me tight and places me firmly on the ground.
Come. Breathe. Set.
The intention . . .
Yoga has evolved into my daily practice in building my resilience. A deeper calling for balance, flexibility, and strength emerges. They form the foundation for my resiliency. I find a sense of calm beyond the storms of life.
“Life is tiny and fragile and beautiful and precious.
And we really are awesome”
—Neil Pasricha, You Are Awesome
Life throws curve balls. You choose to bring your whole self or run from opportunities afraid to take a chance on living.
In January of 2020, I set an intention to focus on resilience. One of the first books I found came from Neil Pasricha, You Are Awesome. Neil “thinks, writes, and speaks about intentional living.” This latest book focuses on resilience.
Neil’s research identified what he refers to as nine directional arrows. These arrows, or tools, can get us on track.
The first arrow drew from me a pause, a deep breath, and a sigh of relief. Neil’s metaphor of punctuation resonated with my grammatical English teacher past. The other arrows depend on our ability to set the pace with a dot-dot-dot.
The first directional arrow—adding a dot-dot-dot— permits us to keep going. In grammatical terms, the ellipsis (. . .) represents an unfinished sentence.
Like life. . .
What happens if you set an intention and allow the dot-dot-dot? I found five critical elements that follow setting an intention and building resilience.
1. Keep going . . .
Resiliency is about the decision to keep going. Continue day after day one step, one breath, one intention at a time.
“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is simply making the decision to keep going.”
2. Change the punctuation . . .
When we place a period at the end of a sentence, we stop. The period signals the reader to take a breath because a new thought is coming. Placing a period on our life causes us to give up and see only the obstacles that stand in the way. Change the punctuation.
“What we need to hold onto is the idea that resilience means seeing the free will that exists just past the period.”
“To see last the period.
And add a dot-dot-dot.”
3. Let the story continue . . .
Setting the intention begins the momentum, but it can’t end there. So often, we gather our gumption and shout to ourselves or the world. “Yes. I am going to do this thing!” You decide to start an online business. Lose 30 pounds. Take up painting. Stop complaining.
Then you discover the period. You didn’t know it was there. That period keeps showing up. You must keep going, keep removing the periods and allow the story, your story to continue.
Every day that I show up on the mat to breathe and set my intention, I allow the story to continue.
Each time you take the next step for an online business, you allow the story to continue.
The five miles you walked today continues the story.
The brushes you purchased continues the story.
Allowing ourselves to be and become who we are—at our best—requires continuing the story. . .
4. Keep the door open . . .
Continuing the story is scary. You don’t know what lies ahead. Sometimes, the blur of the next step refuses to come into focus. The ambiguity, the period overwhelms the momentum to let the story continue.
Resiliency begs for courage and vulnerability. You dare to stand exposed taking the next step from a position of strength. You showed up, removed the period, and dared to keep going when you do not know the outcome.
5. Add a yet . . .
Living in uncertainty, remaining vulnerable involves practice. Exercise builds muscle. Think of resiliency as a muscle. You build it by showing up to your why. Setting your intention defines the what. Removing the period allows doors to remain open for the story to continue.
You won’t stop the daily challenges, the hurdles, the criticism. So, what can you do? How do you keep going? Try using that little word as a power boost for the dot-dot-dot.
I don’t have an online business . . .yet.
I haven’t lost those pesky 30 pounds . . . yet.
I haven’t bought the brushes . . . yet.
Allowing space for ambiguity means leaving the door open for ideas, for reflection, and for the story to continue.
“Resilience is being able to see that tiny sliver of light between the door and the frame just after you hear the latch click.”
Next . . .
Other arrows from Neil mark the path to resiliency. But, until we remove the periods and lean into the dot-dot-dot, our why and what remain stuck on the sidelines.
Setting the intention starts the forward motion. But you can’t stop there. I love how Austin Kleon describes people who want the thing, the noun, but won’t do the work.
“Let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun) and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb).
Doing the verb will take you someplace further and far more interesting.”
—Austin Kleon, Keep Going
You cultivate resiliency by showing up, setting the intention, continuing the story, and doing the work. The intent drives the forward motion to keep going.
To keep going, you must never, never, never, give up. I hope that you live more in the dot-dot-dot. Because we need you to make a difference wherever you find yourself today. No matter what—keep going.
“Every day is a potential seed that we can grow into something beautiful.
There’s no time for despair.
None of us know how many days we’ll have,
so it’d be a shame to waste the ones we get.”