Last year, I was help­ing Colleen, a new client, explore her company’s expan­sion into the craft brew­ery busi­ness. She had two loca­tion options, both of which were very lucra­tive. One was a dock from an aban­doned gro­cery store—an ide­al loca­tion for a local water­ing hole. This loca­tion was in Colleen’s home­town, and she could envi­sion her­self going there fre­quent­ly with her friends. The sec­ond loca­tion was twen­ty miles away. It would be cobrand­ed with two local high-pro­file busi­ness­es that were owned by folks she very much respect­ed. It came with built-in dis­tri­b­u­tion rights, giv­ing her the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­trib­ute direct­ly into oth­er retail loca­tions.

I worked with the MACKEY™ account­ing team to devel­op the income fore­casts for both loca­tions. Clear­ly, the sec­ond loca­tion had more poten­tial. The like­li­hood was high that this loca­tion would make more mon­ey. The asso­ci­a­tion with two oth­er high-pro­file com­pa­nies, and the dis­tri­b­u­tion option, made it a win­ner.

When Colleen and I went through each income fore­cast, you could hear the dif­fer­ence in the tone of Colleen’s voice. When talk­ing about the local water­ing hole, Colleen was engaged and excit­ed. When talk­ing about the sec­ond, fur­ther-away loca­tion with dis­tri­b­u­tion rights, her ener­gy dimin­ished, and she kept point­ing out that it would be more prof­itable. It was as if she was try­ing to con­vince her­self the mon­ey would be worth doing some­thing she wasn’t pas­sion­ate about.

Colleen thrived on being a part of her local com­mu­ni­ty. The neigh­bor­hood water­ing hole, while less finan­cial­ly lucra­tive, was the clear choice for her.

By pay­ing atten­tion to what delight­ed her, Colleen found her inten­tion: she want­ed to build com­mu­ni­ty as she built her busi­ness.

Inten­tion engages your heart and your mind. Your mind is busy chat­ter­ing all the time. It is easy to know what your mind is say­ing, as it speaks direct­ly to you in the lan­guage you have learned to use every day.

Your heart speaks to you in oth­er ways: as feel­ings, as pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive ener­gy, as desire. It has no access to lan­guage. It is qui­et. Find­ing out what is in your heart requires that you lis­ten, observe your­self, and pay atten­tion with­out expec­ta­tion. The clues of the heart are all around you, and may include the fol­low­ing:

  • Feel­ing delight­ed or cap­ti­vat­ed
  • Expe­ri­enc­ing whole-body smiles
  • Feel­ing free, young, free, and/or gid­dy
  • Expe­ri­enc­ing eager­ness and curios­i­ty
  • Re-visu­al­iz­ing a pos­i­tive out­come
  • Notic­ing a sense, say­ing, or mem­o­ry repeat­ed­ly pop­ping into your head
  • Feel­ing sol­id and ground­ed, like this is where you were always meant to be
  • Return­ing to an idea, a pos­si­bil­i­ty, that feels like an itch that won’t go away
  • Expe­ri­enc­ing a strong sen­sa­tion of intu­ition

In the reverse, when you find your­self in a sit­u­a­tion in which your ener­gy is low­er, there is a sense of oblig­a­tion or dread, or you find your­self pro­cras­ti­nat­ing, you are receiv­ing clues that you are not aligned with your inten­tion.

If you aren’t clear about your inten­tion, no wor­ries. Treat find­ing your inten­tion like an adven­ture, an excit­ing jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery. Think of it as a scav­enger hunt. You find clues—bits and pieces—and before long, the whole pic­ture comes into focus. Be patient with your­self and the process. Enjoy the expe­di­tion.