Outsource Your Intention

Life is hard. And sometimes it’s hard for a really long time. To endure these challenging times, you need a vision for your own best future. 

A vision does two important things. First, it provides a framework for decision making. Facing any difficult decision you can ask: “Will this get me closer to or further from my vision for the future?” and decide accordingly. 

Second, it gives you a purpose, which empowers you to endure through difficult times. If you don’t have a concrete vision for why exactly you’re doing something, what will you grab onto when a tornado tries to sweep you off your path?

As the great Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote:

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.”

This seems true. So many of us carry on through hardship because we have a deeply personal ‘why’: supporting our family, a drive to prove doubters wrong, or a sense of deep meaning and connection with God, to name a few common ones. Broke artists stick to their crafts for decades because of the deep sense of connection to themselves or the world that their art provides. Business people manage unprofitable ventures for years, sometimes decades, before seeing success, motivated by spite for those who didn’t fund their idea, or those who told them they were “too ambitious.”

So Viktor Frankl was right, our ‘why’ allows us to endure over and over in the face of adversity, to chase a great future we’ve envisioned for ourselves and our world. But within that inspirational phrase, Frankl can’t help but include a disappointingly truthful word: ‘almost’. 

The truth is, sometimes we can’t endure. We give up, get distracted, forget our ‘why’, or get addicted to something that gives us a more immediate (but ultimately unsatisfactory) reward. The important question then becomes:

How can we live an intentional life every single day, without losing sight of our vision for a better future?

It would take an insane amount of willpower if, each day when we woke up, we had to remind ourselves to remember what we’re living for and why we’re doing hard things. Managing our doubts and convincing ourselves that the ‘why’ is worthwhile would become a full time job.

Instead of constantly relying on our internal, intrinsic motivation to keep us committed to our vision, we need to design our external environment so that it pushes us toward the behaviours that we want to see in ourselves. 

How you design your environment for an intentional life depends on your vision for a great future as well as the resources available to you. An aspiring surgeon from the projects of New York will design their environment much different than a stay at home parent in rural Colombia. But there is one simple and ubiquitous feature of each of our environments that can be changed simply and immediately: our seating. 

Because each of us sits everyday, and many of us sit almost all day, intentional seating can shift our habits in a massively positive direction. Instead of solely relying on willpower to stick to the pursuit of our ‘why’, we can outsource that work into an object that, to date, has been seen merely as a tool for caressing our bottoms.

An example:

Laura loves tea, and she aspires to launch an e-commerce store selling her favourite local teas. She also works a 9-5 job. Because of this and other responsibilities, she’s struggling big time to get her tea shop off the ground. She’s made a plan and has an exciting vision for her future life as an e-commerce business owner. But when she gets home from her day job, she’s utterly exhausted, and can’t help but sprawl out on the couch or in bed and mindlessly scroll her social media feeds. She knows in her soul that she should be working on her business, or at the very least, doing something more healthy. But her willpower is depleted after 9 hours at the office, and her efforts are futile. Laura is frustrated that she can’t take action despite her dream of being a successful small business owner.

One day Laura comes across this brilliant article and decides to give intentional seating a fair shot. She purchases a floor seat that can only be used in an active, upright posture, and decides that this seat is going to carry her intention to be an entrepreneur. She has it labelled in her mind as her intentional seat, defined for one task and one task only: building her company. She even purchases a leaf-themed cover for the seat that reminds her of tea leaves.

Notice a few things about what Laura did with this seat:

(1) She chose a design for the seat that was appropriate to the task at hand. A seat that requires an active posture to sit on, and is impossible to lay out or be lazy on.

(2) She defined her seat by its purpose. 

(3) She made doing her work attractive.

In short, Laura introduced intentional seating that was design oriented, defined by purpose, and sexy. It’s intentional seating because Laura no longer needs to exert so much willpower every day to stay committed to her goals. Instead her seat carries much of that intention for her, in a few important ways.

When she sees the cushion, it serves as a reminder to Laura of her vision for owning a successful tea shop. When she sits on it, she has no choice but to sit upright and active - the ideal posture for getting good work done. When she sits on it habitually each day, over time Laura becomes conditioned to the habit that time on the seat means time spent doing fulfilling, productive work. Finally, the attractive leaf-themed cover looks great in her living room. This prompts friends and family to ask about it, and for Laura to take ownership of her ambitions as a driven tea-shop owner. Each of these factors progressively reinforces Laura’s identity and habits as a shop owner, which push her to continue her work toward expanding her shop.

We started Solum with this exact mission in mind. To build intention seating for intentional people. For the builders and creatives who have vision and purpose, and ambition to design their environment in line with that purpose.

It should be no secret then that we see floor cushions as the best option for intentional seating. If you’d like to learn more about why we think so, read What’s the Big Deal About Floor Cushions?

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