Intentionality is always preceded by aim. To be intentional about anything in life, one must first have clarity around what one’s end goal actually is, if only a direction. Intentionality requires us to have a sense of where we are heading or what we are heading towards.
As such the path of growing in intentionality is marked not by a growth of performance, but rather increased clarity. Through reflection, we learn to see the forest from the trees, and get a sense of whether we are on the path that directs us towards our ultimate goals, or whether we may need to realign.
In the modern world we are much better at paying attention to the next step than we are keeping a mind open to the big picture aims of life. We spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy focusing on the next step, as well the mechanics of our foot placement. We focus on the proper execution of today’s tasks and plans. This is what much of productivity thinking directs us to. How to walk faster, how to have firmer steps.
But often the goals we pursue on a day-to-day basis are merely proxies for deeper goals. We may want to get in shape, improve a relationship, reach a financial milestone, or accomplish a certain project. But behind each of these aims is often a deeper aim, a deeper goal. There is nothing wrong with these goals, but it is important to remember that they are merely proxies. If we don’t make space to reflect and gain clarity on where we want to be headed, our short term goals can gain lives of their own and become distractions in their own right.
Our deepest goals move us toward a full, meaningful life; toward more peace, connection and fulfillment. It is important to take a regular inventory of the things in your life that you are working hard for. From time to time we may find that we have picked the wrong goals, and that the things we are pursuing are actually leading us further away from what we truly want. At times we can find ourselves so focused on the next step that we don’t realize we have lost our sense of direction. We can discern whether our current goals are aligned by the connection they have to our growth in peace, connection, and fulfillment.
It’s okay to change direction. It’s okay to decide that what was once working, no longer is. In fact this spirit is necessary. On the path of life we often find turns, switchbacks, hills and valleys. By keeping our minds and hearts focused on our end goals, we can keep our current goals in alignment and maintain clarity on which steps are in the right direction.
Intentionality doesn’t just mean placing the next right step. Sometimes intentionality means changing direction.
All the best,
““We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
- Albert Einstein
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Featured Art: A Cloudy Day, Bluebonnets near San Antonio, Texas, Julian Onderdonk (1918)