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Hyper Intention, a Deterrent to Deep Work.

Updated on January 23, 2020

I have recently gotten back into reading books after taking a long break from it altogether, probably because my time off allowed me to build my ideal reading list. Of the books I read recently, one that I found especially compelling was Mans Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl. The book is primarily the document of Victor's survival in the concentration camps but the psychological aspect of camp life is discussed throughout the book. In the second half of the book a new method of psychotherapy, logotherapy is introduced which focuses on the pursuit and realization of meaning as a way to help people reorient themselves. Two terms that are key in understanding logotherapy, Hyperintention and Hyperreflecion were introduced and they honestly gripped me. You see I have needed these simplified terms my entire life to define many of the problems that I have faced.

Hyperintention which is what I will focus for this article is obsession toward the results of an action rather than on the action itself. I have felt this hyperintent take over me multiple times in my life but I never knew how to describe it with accuracy. For example, I am socially anxious and one thing that I have noticed whenever I have had terrible anxiety, I was obsessing over how the social event is my opportunity to break out of my reputation as a shy person. In simpler terms, I increased the stakes in my mind and obsessed over the result so much that I became ignorant of the journey. The aim became so self-centered that it became impossible for me to act normally and hold a conversation because even a second of awkwardness meant that my goal, which I was obsessing over, was being shattered. This is capable of paralyzing someone when the stakes are high into complete inaction and therefore is deterrent to deep and meaningful work. Especially in creative pursuits, real art can only come from freedom of this intent. In simple terms, by hyper-focusing on the result, we call upon our inner chatter, which holds us back from losing ourselves in the work and as consequence, we stay on the surface level of our productivity. Your mind can be more distractive than your smartphone in this regard and you must recognize this asymmetry of goals.

In my creative writing pursuits I have noticed this asymmetry of intention. For example, my main reason to begin writing for HubPages was to eventually start earning through it so that I can make enough to support myself while I am in college. Now, Hubpages like any other writing site expects us to first prove if we can write original content and therefore has a minimum number of published articles before we can monetize it. The minimum number was 5 articles and honestly, when I found that out I was pissed. I thought that writing the first 5 will be the toughest but once that's done, writing will become a breeze as I can focus on the money. The complete opposite happened instead, the First five articles went like a breeze and I faced the worst writers' block that I have ever experienced when I started writing solely for the money.

This was not something I was ready for, you see I have always enjoyed writing, but suddenly when I needed to be able to write for real money, I was utterly incapable. Why? I think the main reason for my writers' block was that my intent was out of whack. Initially writing the five articles was easy as they were not for money instead I wrote them in a more relaxed and fun manner, but the moment my aim became solely to write an article for money, my interest in writing vanished. I took this moment to look back at my past to see why I used to love writing and also how I used to write.

I realized that I never used to write articles instead I was into writing quotes or interesting questions that I then used to argue and ponder on, that is what I enjoyed and the articles were just the refined version of those arguments. I loved to write because I loved arguing concepts and it is something that I lose myself in. This was the most important fact that I was forgetting, the creative aspect of writing. Since then I have bought a notepad like I used to have as a child where I argue and note down anything that interests me. Not only does this make sure that I have a supply of ideas ready for me to use for articles but also as a way for me to lose myself in the day, for me to do what I love the most.

One question that you should ask yourself is when in your life do you feel that time flies? That you were almost not there, some people love reading, some lose themselves with their children. These instances may seem trivial but are very important in priming your brain for flow.

Flow is the answer to hyperintention because it teaches you to transcend your ego and deal with the issue at hand. You want to practice such activities as they teach you to look for flow in life and work. The best workers can do this instinctively by creating the patterns in their life to facilitate deep work. For instance, you might have a routine that consists of these activities and then plan to do something that is important like a meeting. By practicing flow you will learn how to look for it, creating the pattern in places that you need to like in your work or in your relationships to find how you work best and practice that regularly.


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