So often in life, the doers, the people that really achieve have a certain something, a charisma, a fire in their belly, a competitive spirit. Most of us don’t have the drive and discipline of a professional athlete or a CEO. But there is another way, a more subtle way that I am comfortable with…
I prefer to look at it as making a decision and doing it “intentionally”. We can all do that.
We seem to have good intentions. Intentions to lose weight, or save money, spend more time with friends or family, make yourself more valuable at work, etc. But more times than not we fail to act on them. We intend to spend more time with our spouse, but then the dates never seem to come. We should show our bosses our value, but then never do anything outside of our daily jobs for them to see it clearly.
According to Webster, there is intention, which is to have in mind, to aspire or to aim or hope to do something. We all seem to be very good at that. We have an idea in mind, or we “wish” that we could get together or see people we care about more often. But then there is to be intentional which is with purpose and deliberate. Most of us are not so great at the second. I don’t know why we aren’t because it’s very simple! As Nike so well says “Just Do it”.
Like the "Ubiquitous Capture" meaning to “write it down right away”. Don’t let the idea leave you as it may or may not come back later. Do it now. If you don’t, you likely will lose your thought or drive to complete it. I began doing just that in little ways.
The best example I can give though is in being intentional about seeing people I care about, who I rarely see, or that I would like to get to know better. In the past, in my life, I would have said “I wish I could see people more and form more friendships or strengthen the relationships I have” and then never do anything about it. It all started after having lunch with a dear friend and we decided to do this monthly (intentional). We quickly realized that having lunch and then waiting until later to schedule the next lunch would not work. It left our radar and we would go months in between. So, we made the commitment (quite easy) to schedule our next lunch before we left the restaurant, much like you might schedule your next haircut on the spot or even a dentist appointment in 6 months. Don’t leave without doing it, right here and right now.
This worked so well that I decided I wanted to start going to lunch more often with many people I would like to have in my life or more than just a friend on Facebook. I reached out to some and asked. Every single one of them immediately said yes. Again, why do we wait on the other to make the first move? Who knows, but I’m not waiting anymore. In a few short months, I had 25 lunch dates and have several more scheduled. This is ambitious and maybe more than you would want to bite off, but for me, I wanted to get to it. I chose a time that I knew I could meet that would not interfere with the rest of the demands of my life so that I would not cancel. I decided that I would be the one to make the first step and instead of thinking about it, I simply asked! I “Just did it!”
This concept works in any part of your life. I wanted to learn more about finance in my work, so I decided to reach out to an old friend for advice on a class or books I could read. I got much more than I asked for… he offered to come to my office and work with me to teach me what I needed to know. And he did it for free just because he wanted to help! Talk about enriching someone’s life. I learned and I felt cared for because he was so generous with his time and knowledge.
For me, being intentional, taking the first step, doing it now while fresh on my mind is my form of self-discipline, my way of making sure I get things done. Not only is it easy, but I have been so surprised at the responses I get by just being the one to make the first move. Be intentional in your life! You can do anything if you just take the first step. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play. In so many ways in my life, I have won the lottery because I was willing to play. I took a chance, with intention and won big! You can too!
- Heather Gee-Thomas