Be intentional

What are you doing right now?

No really, right now. Are you enjoying a blog post? Are you mindlessly clicking on a blog post? Are you passing time? Are you procrastinating? Are you escaping? Are you on automatic pilot? Or are you being intentional?

Many of us have experienced the phenomenon of getting in the car and then getting to our destination, and not really remembering the drive itself. Have you also experienced this phenomenon for hours of your everyday life? "Holy cow, how is it 3pm already?" Sometimes that happens because we are in a state of flow; other times, time is flying because we're having fun. More often, it happens because we are not being intentional about our time and our actions, and therefore we're not really sure where our time has gone. We haven't really had fun, but we haven't really accomplished much either. And we're not very satisfied.

That's a sign that it's time to be intentional. Intentional about how we spend our moments, our days, and our lives.

On a moment-to-moment level, this means being conscious of the choice you're making about what you're doing or what you intend to do. I've started talking to myself, usually silently. "I'm folding laundry." "I'm working on my blog." "I'm helping my daughter study for her test." "I'm enjoying a conversation with my neighbor." "I'm writing a proposal." This has really helped me stay focused, instead of switching from task to task. And I get a sense of accomplishment of setting out to do something - even something very small - and then doing it. Or of setting out to enjoy something - and then actually enjoying it.

On a daily basis, my days go better if I have a plan for what I will accomplish that day. I often try to focus on just 1 or 2 big things I'll work on that will help me move forward. Setting a clear intention of what I want to accomplish prevents me from getting caught up in lots of other tasks. It also keeps me from scrolling through Facebook, eating mindlessly, and wandering around doing a little of this and a little of that.

And on a life level, life is better when it's lived on purpose. Here's what I wrote on the inside cover of a notebook on September 9, 2008:

"I own a successful consulting practice. I empower my clients, mostly working moms, to improve their own life satisfaction. I teach them to change their lives through changing their language and thoughts. I partner with them to identify and implement effective strategies for success and they consistently overcome each challenge. I am rewarded with a high level of job satisfaction from helping people help themselves, and with a solid income to support my family. I enjoy a great quality of life that I have created for myself and successfully balance the multiple priorities of being a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and individual. I practice what I preach."

My vision has changed since then, including more emphasis on speaking and less on consulting. (That's because only a few weeks after writing this, I joined Toastmasters, which put me on the path to speaking.) Instead of being a full-time entrepreneur, I'm happy to have a full-time job and have my own business to supplement that income. And I am glad my speeches and blog posts impact a larger demographic than moms who work outside the home, though that is still the group with whom I connect most readily (because I'm one of them). But helping people overcome challenges? That's what I'm wired for. And as I work on teaching people to become better balanced, I myself have become better at balancing my priorities. Writing a blog has helped ensure I practice what I preach. Declaring this intention has given me purpose and a path to follow.

Writing my personal credo a few years later helped me further define who I was setting out to be.

You will enjoy life more if you are clear about your purpose in any actions, whether you are having fun or working hard.

Be intentional.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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