Updated: Jan 28, 2021
Intention - a conscious choice with an end goal in mind
It's clear by now that this blog is about self-mastery and that embracing our process is vital. So far we've touched upon the importance of discipline and how it is an essential part of being, and we've looked at the value of honesty and introspection. Moving on, I'd like to bring your attention to the next part. Our intentions.
One thing is doing what we do, for the sake of doing it, or doing it for the wrong reasons. It's another thing if our thoughts, words and actions are aligned to our vision of who we want to be. Being intentional allows us to anchor what we do to a bigger, overarching purpose. If we do a good job, just because we're told to do a good job, the benefits can never be as big as doing a good job because we approach every task with the intention of being the best version of ourselves. It is our duty to apply ourselves, no matter how mundane, simple or repetitive a task is. Similarly, if we do a good job just so that we can get a pay-check at the end of each month, all we're doing is wasting precious opportunities for self-development.
Below are the aforementioned premises:
a) we do a good job because we're told to
b) we do a good job because it is our duty to be the best version of ourselves
c) we do a good job for financial remuneration
One could argue that we're doing a good job one way or another and yes, that would be a valid argument. On the surface. The issue however is that in the long run, doing things just for the sake of doing them, isn't going to bring about fulfilment. Unless you make an effort to identify a positive intention, across the different tasks, and more generally, across the different areas of your life, it'll be difficult to maintain discipline and honesty with yourself.
Essentially, we must look at the following:
a) What am I trying to achieve today?
b) Are my thoughts, words and actions in alignment with what I am trying to achieve today?
*repeat steps a and b, 7 days a week.
Most of us want a better life, but are we doing everything in our power to put ourselves in the best possible position? Of course not. Just look around you. Of all the people you know, who is actually operating at an optimal level? Who is making conscious efforts to identify important pillars in their life (family, friends, health, fitness, work, savings etc.) and who is making small, intentional efforts, every single day to improve the way they live their life?
Acknowledging the importance of discipline is the first step, because the amazing life we so desperately want, is linked to how disciplined we are.
Being honest with ourselves is the second step, because this will allow us to look at ourselves objectively and to pinpoint the things we do well, the things we could be doing better and the things we should stop doing. Honesty will also allow us to measure how disciplined we are in comparison to how disciplined we think we are, and to measure the efforts we're making to improve the quality of our lives.
Out of these two steps, stems intention.
Every thought we have, every word we say and every action we take, needs to be anchored to an overarching image of who we truly want to be. I set my intentions by assessing the things I want to achieve and I write them all down ten days before the start of each year. I've been doing this for about four years now, and my list has gone from seven points to thirty points. The benefit of this is simple. You can't set your daily intentions unless you know what you're working towards.
For example. How many books will you read? How many new friends will you make? How long will you meditate each day? How many new destinations will you visit? How many times will you reach out to your family? What will your savings look like?
The list can go on and on, depending on your priorities, goals and ambitions.
Each point needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.
Give yourself six months and pivot accordingly. You may be on track to exceed a number of your goals halfway through the year. Add more depth to those goals. On the contrary you may be falling short on some of your goals. Adjust, but keep it challenging enough. The reason behind adjusting is because we want to ensure healthy accountability. There's no point looking at your list at the end of the year and realising you've failed all your goals. That won't motivate you. At all. We want to build intention, by scaling our list every single year.
To do that, our goals need to be carefully thought out.
a) If our thoughts lack true intention, the outcome of our efforts will lack true direction.
b) Similarly, our words impact our every interaction, and if we're not careful with how we speak of ourselves, how we speak of others and how positive our outlook is, we will be unable to build lasting foundations for a better life.
c) Finally, we can't expect to do whatever we feel like doing, simply because we can't control our thoughts and words, and still achieve the life we want.
We have a tendency to take things lightly, and this laissez faire attitude, of doing what we feel like doing, simply because we're living in the moment, will come knocking on our doors down the line. You can still enjoy life and have fun without being careless with your thoughts, words and actions. I mean, you can still be careless with all of the above, and continue to take things lightly, but don't expect a different life to the one you have now.
Ultimately, we can all think, say and do whatever we want (as long as we do not infringe on the rights of others, and as long as we remain respectful), but intentions will = the quality of our life. If you want proof, take out a sheet of paper and jot down thoughts you normally have, words you normally use, things you normally do.
Once you've spent a couple of hours identifying these patterns, you'll see how the words on the sheet of paper in front of you are a direct reflection of the life you're living.
1. Commit to being intentional about everything you think, say and do
2. Understand that intention = purpose, so without intention you cannot have purpose
3. Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve each day and make sure your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment
4. Focus on setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound goals ten days before the start of each new year or even six months into a new year