How often do you think about whom you’re spending your time with and how you’re spending your time? Are you intentional about your life? Often we notice people in our lives who act intentionally in certain ways and not in others. For example, you may know someone who is very intentional about his or her career but not in other areas. It certainly is tempting to let things happen in your life. And it is easier. You can find genuine support for a “let it flow” lifestyle in self-help books, friends, family, and even certain interpretations of the Bible (e.g., surrender, God is in control, “let go and let God”). Although I agree with some of these methods, there is great value in being intentional about your life, living on purpose as some refer to it. By intentional, I mean taking deliberate, purposeful, planned actions with regard to your overall life. Being intentional is about CHOICE. Choosing to live a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way, BE a certain way. Here are some of the reasons why I believe we should strive to live on purpose, be intentional and make choices that manifest such intention on a daily basis.
1. Being intentional about a particular goal can help you achieve it faster. To be intentional about a goal includes defining it, setting up a plan on how you will do it, seeking help if necessary, and moving forward with the steps in your plan. If you are not willing to engage in these acts of intention, how important is this goal to you? Sitting back and waiting for it to happen probably will take awhile. Think back to a goal you had in the past and achieved – did this occur by happenstance? Even if you did not have a written plan of action, most likely you took several steps toward the accomplishment of the goal. If you have a goal in mind that you are not having success in reaching, perhaps it is time to look at your plan (if you have one) and your work on the goal. Are you being intentional about the plan, the steps and reaching the goal? If not, maybe it is time to reevaluate that goal. That evaluation of a previous goal is an intentional act, by the way!
2. Being intentional about whom you spend your time with and how you spend your time will make you happier. A few years ago I did a little experiment where I was very intentional with regard to how I spent my time and with whom for a 30-day period. It was all about me and what I wanted to do. I remember some people laughed when I told them about it. They asked me–isn’t that what you usually do? Actually, back then, the answer was no. So for my activities outside of work hours, I was very intentional about making sure I was doing exactly as I pleased at the time. It helped me to honor myself, my desires and goals. It helped me to really focus on what I love and enjoy instead of going through the motions doing things just because others are or want you to do it. And I was happier spending my non-work time doing what I wanted to do. Being intentional gave me the freedom to live the life I really wanted to live. It may seem selfish, but the happier you are, the more your light shines and helps others to be happy, too.
3. Being intentional about your thoughts and your disposition will change your mood for the better and give you peace.
One of my favorite quotes is: “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances.” (Martha Washington). Being intentional about your thoughts means making a conscious choice to direct your thoughts. The realization that we can choose our attitude, demeanor, reaction is a freeing realization! Mind control is truly an amazing concept. You control your thoughts and your emotions. I’ll say it again – you control your thoughts and emotions. All of them. Try to recognize when you find yourself heading down the road of a particular default thought pattern. For example, someone asks you how your day is going. Do you say it’s going well? Do you say you’re too busy? Tired? Could you change that feeling simply by telling yourself you’re feeling a different way, something more pleasing and fulfilling to you? What would it be? Not long ago I found myself constantly telling people about how busy I am at work whenever anyone asked how I was doing. I heard myself complaining about it. And I realized how tiring and de-motivating it sounded. I decided to stop thinking that and to stop saying that. And it’s amazing how my mood shifted regarding my work volume. Yes, it is high and I cannot control that fact. But I can control what I think about it and make my thoughts my reality. So I choose to focus on being grateful that I have a job, especially in this market. Viewing it from a gratefulness perspective and being intentional about having that view is what made me feel better about it and gave me some peace. Let’s be clear – my thoughts will go to that default of “I’m too busy, this is overwhelming,” especially when I hear it from co-workers regularly. But I am deliberate about not buying into it, not being imprisoned by it, not letting it get me down. So I do a redirect of that thought. Redirecting to gratefulness ALWAYS works for me.
What do you want from your life? Imagine yourself sitting down to write a synopsis of your life achievements. How would you want that synopsis to read? Sit down, write it, and get to work on making it real – this is your blueprint for being intentional about your life and living on purpose!