“Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.” –W. Clement Stone
Intention. It’s one of my favorite words. It implies being in control, having a plan, and taking charge. Today’s message is equally wisdom and wellness. It has broad application. It’s simple, and it has the ability to take you, your work, your relationships, all your interactions and activities from good . . . to outstanding. It’s all about being intentional.
The great news is that obtaining these outstanding results, in any area of your life, can be as simple as asking yourself one question: what do I want to get out of this (fill in the blank)? For example:
- What do I want to get out of this team meeting?
- What do I want to get out of this workout?
- What do I want to get out of this discussion with my spouse or kids?
- What do I want to get out of this business trip?
In your mind, jump ahead to the end of xyz activity and think about what outcome or result you will want to have achieved. Do you want your team to be on board with your new project proposal? Do you want your spouse to start putting his or her dishes away? Do you want to feel that amazing “I just pushed myself to the limit” sensation post-workout? If you ask yourself this simple question, you then approach your situation with focus & intention. Taking 30 seconds to think about what you want to accomplish in a given situation then prompts you to orchestrate how you’re going to achieve that result. I have a couple of examples. The first is simple: my daily workouts.
Although I am certified as a personal trainer, I often find myself doing a “maintenance” workout: one I’ve done dozens of times at the same intensity. On the days where I’ve been up 4-5 times the prior night with my infant, I feel great after completing it. But other days, I finish & feel like I ripped myself off. I could have gone harder, and I’m mad at myself for not making the best use of my valuable time. Now, I ask myself: what do I want to get out of this workout? Do I want to build muscular strength? Do I want to grow my cardio capacity, improve my balance, or just maintain my current fitness level? I then go into the workout knowing what I need to do to be proud of myself at the end of the hour.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/stuart miles
On the home front, I decided to bite the budget bullet and hire an interior designer to help me make my new house a cozy space that I love. Normally, I’d just wing the first meeting & share my initial thoughts on colors and home décor items I like & don’t like. However, before our first meeting, I did just what I’m asking you to do: I asked myself, “What do I want to get out of this project”? I realized that ultimately I wanted a beautiful space (on a budget) that looked like someone who knew what they were doing had a hand in it. In other words, I’d be really disappointed if after all is said & done, my house looks like something I could have decorated myself. So, the very first thing I said to the designer was this: “Your challenge is to make my house look like it has been professionally decorated.” This has completely framed how she is approaching the project. She is giving me clear feedback about some of my outdated ideas, and is showcasing significantly more ownership in the project than any other service provider I’ve worked with. I believe her full engagement is largely due to the challenge I gave her. And the challenge I gave her was the pure result of asking myself that one simple question.
So my challenge for you today is this: think about your “to-dos.” What do you want to get out of those activities? Will you live today with intention?