personality and story planning & productivity

Creating essential intent and making the right choices

February 5, 2018

Creating an essential intent is hard. It takes courage, insight, and foresight to see which activities and efforts will add up to your single highest point of contribution.

Greg McKeown, in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


A Quiet Writing deep-dive Tarot Narrative each Monday to share intuitive guidance, wisdom and insights from aligned books – for the week and anytime…

This week: creating essential intent + determining what will help

essential intent

Theme for the week beginning 5 February

The theme for this week to guide our overall focus is from Lisa McLoughlin’s Life Design Cards – 2. Determine what’s going to help.

essential intent

As the image in the card suggests, this is a great week to focus on what will be the ladder and support to help you step up. It’s worthwhile, always and especially this week, to think about the essential intent or purpose of your work. And in this, to decide what’s the best support, tool, use of time or person to work with you to help further that intent.

I have a huge list of actions as I start this week and focus on my new business and way of living as a life coach and writer. It’s exciting but easily overwhelming. Stepping back to see my ‘essential intent’, as Greg McKeown calls it in ‘Essentialism’ is a really valuable step we often forget as we dive into the minutiae of it all.

It’s a good time this week to take that step back and get clear on the big picture of where you are going so you can take the action that will help most.

Tarot Narrative for the week beginning 5 February

Tarot Narrative: Discernment, seeing differently

You might be feeling overwhelmed at this time of transition with an enormous list of tasks and not knowing what to do first. See what will make the biggest difference and help to get you where you want to go. What will move you on the most? Who can help you see differently or lighten the load? How can it be easier? Small adjustments, reaching out, going back to what works for you, simplifying – will all help you move on and through now.

Reading notes: Cards: Ten of Rods (Wands) and Eight of Swords from the Sakki Sakki Tarot and #3 Between Worlds in protection (reversed position) from Wisdom of the Oracle.

Book notes:

An essential intent…is both inspirational and concrete, both meaningful and measurable. Done right, an essential intent is one decision that settles one thousand later decisions.

Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (p. 126)

I had heard about the book ‘Essentialism’ by Greg McKeown from both a coach I worked with and a client I worked with as a life coach. Both amazing women who found this book inspiring, I was intrigued and so purchased it and there it sat, waiting for me. Until December last year, when I spent most of the month in a palliative care ward with my mother in her final days. I chose this book to listen to as an audiobook as I went back and forward from the hospital, day after day.

There’s nothing like being in a palliative care hospital heading into Christmas time to focus the mind and heart on what is essential in life. It was as if everything was stripped back to love and family and all the trappings of Christmas shopping and events all fell away. A time for reflecting on essential intent in life generally, Greg McKeown’s book was a piece of crystal clear thinking to help me as I navigated this time.

I recommend it however you listen to it for getting to clarity and focus – but it worked well as an audiobook first up. And I know there is much to be gleaned and applied from a further closer reading of the text with more active highlighting and noting.

Creating essential intent and making it harder 

As the Ten of Rods (Wands) reminds us, we can get very busy carrying heavy loads. We can forget why we are choosing to do so much. Caught in the detail of action, we can neglect the need to step back and reflect on why we are doing all of these things. We can focus on small aspects, like the right wording, when we really need to work out is what the message is in the first place.

The Eight of Swords suggests that we might be self-imposing limitations or blinding ourselves in some way. We might reflect on how we have it made it harder than it could be. Or which old limiting beliefs we’ve picked up along the way that we might be still carrying around with us as extra baggage.

The ‘Between Worlds’ card in protection position backs this up by reminding us to be aware of expectations including of ourselves. I am focusing on “done is better than perfect” at the minute as a way of breaking through and being in action. It doesn’t all have to be perfect; progress is better. There’s an Instagram challenge on this for the month of February that I am doing and finding is a great focus at this time.

essential intent

Creating essential intent and strategic choices

Greg McKeown reminds us in ‘Essentialism’ that:

One strategic choice eliminates a universe of other options and maps a course for the next five, ten, or even twenty years of your life. Once the big decision is made, all subsequent decisions come into better focus.

As an example, on my big list of actions this week is work on the Quiet Writing brand essence in partnership with Stephey Baker at Marked by the Muse. We are working together on clearly defining my brand essence through the words and images that sum up Quiet Writing’s heart.

Having checked through my list this morning, I exercised essential intent by making this the #1 activity for today and this week (after sharing this reading and post!) Everything else flows from that. Once I can get my brand essence right and really crystal clear, in words and visually via my logo and other imagery, I know that the other pieces and tasks can easily align. Even if they feel more insistent or urgent right now.

Creating essential intent and what will help

Another theme that popped up for this week, alongside strategic choice, is determining what is actually going to help. It’s a valuable time to think about where we have taken on too much, where things can wait, who can help and where we can delegate or get support in line with our essential intent.

If, for example, one of our goals is to set up a website or blog or refresh the current one, who can we ask to help us and how can we get support? Is life coaching an option to help us focus and be in action, set goals and frameworks to have the job done? Or is it finding a professional we can work with and brief and to whom we can hand over the majority of this task? Or is it working in strategic partnership where we can share the work based on our mutual skills and strengths?

Whatever it is in our life, this is a great week for stepping back to recognise our strategy and essential intent and then seeing how we can carry it through into action.

Looking to see where we can lighten our load in line with our essential intent is also highlighted. 

Love to hear your thoughts!

I’d love to hear if you are feeling these energies around creating essential intent, making strategic choices, working out what will help and then asking for that help.

  • How might you practice creating essential intent?
  • What is going to help you achieve that?
  • Which strategic choices can you make that will help the other parts come into focus?
  • Who could you ask to help you?
  • What shape might that support take?
  • What will lighten your load and reduce overwhelm?
  • Where are you carrying extra baggage such as self-limiting beliefs weighing you down?

All best wishes for this week of creating essential intent and getting clear on your purpose as well as lightening your load. Hooray for that possibility! I look forward to a week of easing creative overwhelm with these energies. And let me know what you think of this post and this weekly Tarot Narrative!

essential intent

📷 of me above by Lauren, Sol + Co

Keep in touch & free ebook on the ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

You can download my free 95-page ebook on th36 Books that Shaped my Story – just sign up with your email address in the box to the right or below You will also receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions. This includes personality type, coaching, creativity, writing, tarot and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world.

Quiet Writing is on Facebook and Instagram – keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Self-leadership, feedback and marshalling resources for the best week

Creative practices in my tool-kit to make the most of this year’s energies

How I plan to manifest energy, joy and intention to make the most of this year

20 practical ways of showing up and being brave (and helpful)

The Empress: vision, creativity and patience

Keep in touch – sign up to receive your free e-book: ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’ + Quiet Writing Beach Notes, opportunities & inspirational resources!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Stef February 5, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    “creative overwhelm” – I love that expression because this is how I feel right now. So many ideas in my head (and lots of things on my to do list for my regular job) that it’s difficult to know where to start, and when… and to overcome the fear of exposing these creative ideas to the public.
    My “strategy” right now is to share these ideas with supportive and encouraging people and writing the ideas into my “Passion Planner” that a lovely friend gave to me.
    Thanks for your posts, Terry!

    • Reply Terri February 5, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      Hi Stef – thanks for your thoughts. What a great problem to have – so many ideas! But like you, I do find it can be overwhelming. I love your suggestions of sharing your ideas with supportive others and also having a “Passion Planner”. So important to capture ideas and talk about them – you never know where it might lead! All best wishes with your creative ventures, Terri.

    Leave a Reply

    Keep in touch – sign up to receive your free e-book: ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’ + Quiet Writing Beach Notes, opportunities & inspirational resources!