How we set ourselves up to fail without trying

In 2006, my parents encouraged me to use my high school graduation money to buy a bicycle. While it may not be as shiny as when I first purchased it, my blue Trek gets me to work every weekend and saves me time and money. It saves me money from taking the train and I’m spared the headache of finding one of those rare Chicago parking spots that everyone keeps talking about.

Having lived in the city for five years, it’s not uncommon to hear how frustrating parking situations are. I hear this most frequently at one of my jobs. Outside of the location sits a small lot shared by multiple stores. Unless you’re lucky, it’s rare to score one of the coveted spots. Customers are frequently expressing their discontent over the situation – many emphasizing that this happens every time they visit.

They’re setting the wrong intention.

I can’t speak on behalf of their frustration, as I don’t currently own a vehicle. What I can do is speak on behalf of someone who spends an exuberant of time reading and studying how to be a more positive person.

Without likely even realizing it, they’re setting an intention before arriving to the store. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a positive one: “If I arrive at the store and can get a spot, I’ll be thrilled!” Not a bad start, but let’s look at the facts: This lot is small. It fills up quick. If it’s a returning customer, they know the odds aren’t in their favor.

A better approach

I’m going to share one of my favorite questions. It’s pretty awesome. I can ask it whether I’m traveling to work, an audition, or meeting up with friends: “How do I want to feel as I get to my destination?” (Extra points if you use this to figure out how you want to feel your whole day.)

For the sake of the customer, we’ll rephrase it: “How do I want to feel as I get to the store?” By asking this question, we’ll quickly realize we want to feel good as we go about our day. We can do this without getting a spot in the lot. We can take the train. We can leave early and give ourselves time to find parking. Or maybe we treat ourselves to the Starbucks down the street after. (Though that would be silly – everyone knows there’s free coffee in said store).

Ask yourself this question and you’re giving yourself options. Ask yourself a more limiting and specific question and you could be setting yourself up to fail.

So now what?

Hopefully by now you’re realizing that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really a problem. Another approach is to realize that even if we lose twenty minutes to traffic, we’re still going to get through the rest of our lives. This is just one trick to apply out of the many that can make you a happier, healthier, and more positive person.

There are still going to be days where we set the intention of feeling good, but get deterred. That’s okay. It’s not about being perfect and more about getting in the rhythm of practicing intentions. Overtime, you’ll be a pro.

Go get ‘em, guys.

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