intention, cold exposure, ice bath, purpose, focus

365 Days at 36.5 Degrees: The Challenge of Finding Intention

There are things you simply must get done every day that do not feel like they carry grand meaning. You have to wake up, brush your teeth, get the kids ready for school, walk the dog, have coffee and breakfast, drive to work, sit at your desk, work, (maybe) try to get some exercise in, drive home, have dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and then maybe try to do something for yourself (like actually talk to your significant other) before you go to bed so you can wake up and do it all over again. And now I want you to find intention and add cold exposure every morning? ANOTHER THING you do not have time for!

This pattern begs the question: Where do I find purpose in the things I have to do every day that don’t really change? How is adding cold exposure to my life going to change anything?

Finding intention or purpose among the mundane aspects of our lives can be difficult. Not because finding intention is hard, but because we have not acted with intention for so long, we have come to think it is hard or even unnecessary. We ask ourselves, “What’s the point of finding intention in the mundane?” After all, getting the kids ready for school or driving to work are just things that must get done. What difference does it make if I do them with purpose or not?

My Intention: Consider How You Go About Your Day

My intention here is NOT to provide you with a five-step guide to acting with intention. It is to get you to consider and ponder everything you do and how you go about doing it. Find your intention! There is a distinction between what you do and how you go about doing it. What you do and how you do it make up your personal culture and until we focus on these things, we are not likely to make significant change in our lives. How we execute the things we need to do comes down to intention.

Consider getting your child ready for school, or anything you have to do with your children for that matter. “Hurry up, we’re going to be late! Where are your shoes?! No, it’s raining outside, where is your raincoat?! Hurry up, we’re going to be late!” In fact, substitute anybody in your life and relate it to this interaction. Does it look vaguely familiar? Do you feel like this is just the way it needs to be because, well, it’s just the way it is?

How would you like this interaction to go? Probably more organized. Likely less contentious and stressful. Hopefully more peaceful, loving, relaxed, and interactive? When you see how it actually is and then determine how you want it to be, you’ve just found your intention.

Now what?

You decide your intention is to act with more patience and calm in the morning. Because this is your intention, you automatically consider the things that are getting in the way. Now your intention leads you to think ahead. Before bed you consider the things that need to be in place in the morning to avoid chaos so you find your kid’s shoes and jacket. You stage the book-bag and lunch. Then you go to bed 15 minutes earlier so you can wake up 15 minutes earlier and remind yourself of your intention.

Now how does the morning look? You are still doing the same thing by getting your child out the door, but you are doing it differently. Instead of chaos, you see calm. Reduce stress, improve patience. Instead of dictating, you see discussion. Same activity, different intention, different experience. All because you acted with intention.

Setting intention is hard and it needs to be practiced…with intention. This is where the ice bath or cold shower comes in. Set your intention before you get into the cold and apply it to the rest of your day. You cannot hide from the cold. It will impact you physically, emotionally, and mentally. That is why it is such an effective tool to practice intention. It’s difficult to believe something like a cold shower can help you live with more intention, but it can.

If you don’t believe, there is only one way to find out…get in the cold with an intention and see how it works. Not just once, because no habit is formed from just doing it once. Commit to something. Start with five days of morning cold showers with a specific intention in mind. It will be bumpy and messy, but anything worthwhile always is at the start. Don’t worry about neat and tidy, that’s not the goal. Mission accomplishment is the goal.

Now go get started!

I’ll be posting about this regularly on my Instagram (follow the hashtag #Leader193cold) and I hope to update you weekly here on the blog. You can learn more about how I use cold exposure as a leadership tool in my book The Process, Art, and Science of Leadership. You can also read more about the benefits of cold exposure on leadership here.

Errol Doebler is the founder of Leader 193, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Leader 193 to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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