From Good Intentions to Intentionality
Many of us wake up everyday with plans that will take us one step closer to our dreams. Sadly, a lot of us will go to bed that night feeling guilty for not taking any action on those plans or goals. We’re stuck and don’t have a clue about how to bring life to our dreams. This month, I want to share with you, what I believe to be one of the first steps to getting unstuck and moving forward with your dreams. I want to talk about turning your good intentions into intentionality.
Now you maybe wondering what’s the difference, well typically when we talk about good intentions we are referring to our plans, ideas, or motives. And for some of us, those come too easy and may be overwhelming. Intentionality, on the other hand, is the effort, action or steps we take to make those plans or dreams a reality. Intentionality is being proactive and taking the initiative to go after the things we claim to want. And this, for many of us, many of us is where dreams and plans die.
I am sure you’ve heard the saying “that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Well, I don’t know about hell, but they are the foundation for unfulfilled dreams and underachievement. Here are eight tips to help you move from good intentions to living intentionally.
First, clarify your vision or goal.
Before your dream can be a reality, you have to be very clear about what your dream is, why you want, and how much you are willing to sacrifice to achieve it. Without a clear picture of the what, why, and how it’s easy to become discouraged or lost in someone else’s expectations. Dreams require sacrifice, some days it might not seem worth it, so understanding the why and being able to easily recall it is a must to help you stay motivated. Oh, yeah, write all of this down and keep it visible, never know when you’ll need the reminder.
Second, develop your strategy.
Now, if you are like me, it can be easy to overlook this step because it’s time-consuming and disrupts the momentum. However, this step is crucial, especially for those of us that hate planning and writing things down. It provides the map and will keep you on track for achieving your goal. This preliminary research and planning eliminate some of the stress you experience down the line when it looks like things are falling apart, your dream seems impossible, or you’re just feeling overwhelmed with everything required to make it happen. (Side note: these reactions are normal and expected having a strategy helps you prepare for them, but won’t prevent them from happening.)
Third, say goodbye to your comfort zone.
Pursuing your dreams or achieving a goal requires taking a risk and leaving behind what’s comfortable. You are stepping into the unknown. Yay, you! Here is where you may need to make some mental shifts or confront some limiting beliefs about what you are capable of achieving in life. Having a written strategy is helpful here because you’ve already broken down all the steps required to achieve your goal and declared them doable. There are a lot of great books about reaching your potential, not settling and overcoming negative self-talk. Email me if you are interested in a few recommendations.
Fourth, build your support team.
Identify people who will hold you accountable, provide valuable feedback and encourage you. You need reliable and loving people in your corner. People who will jump on this rollercoaster with you and hold your hand for every high and low. It can include friends, family, strangers on Facebook, and mentors. Different people will have different roles and different ways of communicating their support, but you will recognize who is for you and who you need to let go.
Fifth, avoid busyness.
It might be tempting to add other activities to your schedule. It’s important to understand when these other things are serving as a distraction or just filling up space. Review your strategy, how will any new project fit with the daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals you’ve established?
Sixth, say no to multitasking and focus on being fully present.
Most times, quality is more important than quantity. When you are working, work but when you are away from work, enjoy your time away. Whatever the goal is, it’s okay to step away and engage in unrelated activities. In either setting, focus on what’s in front of you, don’t try and do too many things at once. Cramming never pays off in the long run.
As you work your plan, mark the milestones and enjoy those moments of success, big or small. Acknowledging your achievements helps fill up your positivity bank, so you’ll have plenty to draw on during hard times.
Eighth, leave room for adjustment.
In the pursuit of your dreams and goals, you are growing and learning new things all the time. This information might change the vision, that’s cool, it’ll only make things better. You’ll experience setbacks and disruption, that’s okay, this is an opportunity to review the plan and make changes. Your attitude toward change will determine the magnitude and greatness of your vision. If you are inflexible, your dream just might die despite all the effort you put into the plan.
That last step brings me to my final thought about being intentional, yet flexible. Proverbs 16:9 (NIV) says, “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” In everything, I do, I pray first and seek God’s wisdom for moving forward, but sometimes along the way, things fall apart. Or at least they seem to, and I wonder if God is shutting the door or if I heard wrong. What I am finding is that the plans in my heart are just the beginning, it’s the steps necessary to get me moving towards my destiny and His plans for me. I am discovering that the dreams in my heart are just pieces of His dreams for me, and if I hold on too tight to my dreams I just might miss the bigger picture.
So as you move from good intentions to intentionality, be flexible and be prepared for God to take you greater heights in uncomfortable places, remember that He is always working for your good (Romans 8:28) and that His plans are to prosper you (Jeremiah 29:11). Create your plan, and work it. Those are promises God made to people in the midst of their trials, not when things were going well, so don’t be discouraged by challenges or delays, instead view them as new opportunities for growth and revelation. I can guarantee that the road to your dreams will be bumpy, but if you are intentional and trust God’s love for you, they will take life.