inauthentic intentions

When designing a life with intention, the first step is creating a vision for your life. But be careful, if you don’t take this step seriously and do it with authenticity, you could end up miserable (and annoying to be around).

I should know. I made this mistake myself last summer.

You see, I have always been good at creating a vision for my life and then designing my life around it. I’ve been doing it since I was a junior in college after reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and discovering my purpose.

However, last year I found myself in a situation where I was content and satisfied with the direction of my life, yet I was told that I wasn’t dreaming big enough.

So I took this advice to heart and decided that I really needed to amp up my vision, to super charge it.

I needed to make it really special impressive.

What followed was an intense few days where I “dreamed bigger and further into the future than I ever had before.”

After it was all over, to be honest I did not walk away with an inspiring vision that I could use to push myself further and find even greater joy (which was the whole point).

I walked away with a rigid perfect standard with which I measured my current life and relationships against.

Instead of holding my vision with open hands, letting it evolve and grow, I had a death grip on my life. I did everything I could to make my life look exactly like my vision.

And you know what?

I ended up miserable in front of this beautiful home on Mackinac Island with a really bad hair color.* 

Sure, I don’t look miserable in that photo. But inside, I was desperate, scared, and mean.

In my turbo-charged vision of my life I had a beautiful mansion that looked exactly like the one in the photo in the exact area of the country that I wanted to live in (outside San Fran) with sandy blond hair.

So by taking this photo I was trying to make my vision that much more likely to happen.

I was desperate to have that vision come true in my life. From the exact color of my house to the exact brass knobs I’d have on my kitchen cabinets. All of it was extremely important and had to come true.

Failure to achieve any of it was not an option in my mind.

Which of course, made me scared.

Because let’s be honest, when you have 1,001 things decided in your mind, there is a good chance that most of them might not come true. And if they all didn’t come true, then I would be failing at my vision life.

This fear of course led me to be mean and demanding. I had a laundry list of attributes I wanted in all of my stuff and my relationships. And heaven forbid if Mr. Lively didn’t stack up to each and every one of them too.

Ugh. I hate just thinking about how I acted for those few miserable months.

However, I am happy to report that eventually my house of intentional cards imploded on itself in a firestorm of frustration and anxiety.

After feeling terrible for about three months, I finally abandoned the grandiose life vision in favor of peace.

I dropped all the illusions and lived intention free for a few months to decompress.

It was a slow, but glorious process.

Now, I have slowly gone back to creating a vision for my life but it is much more focused on who I am, what brings me joy, and how I want to live that also brings me peace and excitement for the future.

I don’t know what my future will hold exactly. But I have some ideas and suggestions, not rules and regulations.

So the next time you start creating a vision for yourself, look inward. Don’t let society, friends, family, blogs, or fortune cookies tell you what you should seek.

After all, you might end up like I did: too blond and pining after someone else’s summer home.



* Don’t believe me on the hair color? Take a look and judge for yourself.

Words to the wise: Just because you have a vision or intention to look awesome with blond highlights doesn’t mean that you will.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Nicole

    Thank you for these words!

    I do have one question, though. When you create your life with intention, how far into the future do you recommend the intention? The reason I am asking is because one huge goal that my husband has for his business is to have it at a point that it would be able to fully support us financially once we start a family and I could choose to stay at home. This is a great goal, but I feel that he puts too much pressure on himself, especially for a business that is only going into its fourth year.

    Keep up the great work! Although I do not have a business of my own (yet), it really helps me put things in perspective for myself and helps me with advice/uplifting words for my hubby!

  2. Jess

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks so much! This is a great question, and one that can be figured out with trial and error on you and your husband’s part. Some people prefer or thrive with a five year intention, other’s a 10, or just a one year vision for some.

    I think one way to look at it is to be more detailed in your short term vision and more broad in your long term vision. So the goal to be fully supporting the family could be an intention in all of your husband’s 1, 5, and 10 year visions. But he might have specific revenue targets for this year and a broader range for the future visions.

    Overall, make sure it leads to peace, that is your best guide!

  3. Jessica

    Great post. Your honesty is refreshing. Where is the tipping point of dreaming with authenticity and not?

  4. Annie

    So wholeheartedly agree with this post. Always appreciate your insightful words.

    P.S. The Mackinac reference made me curious as to your Michigan ties– love reading that you are a U of M girl as well! Are you from Mich originally?

  5. Yet again – love this.

    It doesn’t seem like my day has really begun until I get to check out your daily post! Keep them coming!

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