Updated: Aug 24
The Intentional Life
I have heard it said that most of us spend more time planning our vacations than we do planning our lives. I think there is some real truth behind that statement. Travel planning is a multi-billion dollar industry. You can even hire people to plan the perfect Disney vacation! I certainly believe that vacations are important; however, my argument is that most of us don’t spend near enough time actually planning our lives.
I was recently speaking to a group of very financially successful business executives, and I took an informal survey to see how many of them had a written plan for their lives. Not one did. They all had a plan for their business, but they had not taken the time to create a plan for their life. However, they all recognized the importance and value of having one.
If it makes sense to plan our lives, then why don’t we do it? I believe there are multiple reasons. I find that one of the most common reasons is that we are so busy that we never take time out to really back up and “think.” The tyranny of the urgent just sweeps us along like a strong current and the next thing you know the years have passed.
For others of us, we never really learned how. Planning and goal setting takes practice and development. Some of us fear failure. We think that if we actually write down our dreams and go for them that we may never achieve them. Others of us may even fear success. We may be concerned about the changes that would occur if we actually accomplished our goals. Whatever the reason, it should not be a barrier to tapping into the power of intentional living.
I have lost several family members and close friends who died at early ages. This pressed upon me the importance and urgency of living an intentional life NOW. My delusions of building the life I wanted “someday” were dispelled as I saw too many people whose “someday” never came. We are all given the same amount of time to work with. The question is what we do with our time.
I view time like I do money. I want to be wise in how I invest it. I knew exactly how many weekends I had with my daughter before she went off to college several years ago, and now I am doing the same with my son who will be a senior in high school (not many left!). If I live an average lifespan (which given my genetics I would be lucky to do), I know exactly how many weekends I have left. Time is a precious commodity.
Know Your Purpose
One of the most powerful questions to ask yourself is “Why?” I find that this question stimulates lots of discussions with people when I ask them why. What I mean by this is discovering what your purpose is. If you don’t know your personal mission then you really don’t have the framework for making major decisions in life. Finding your “why” is about discovering that special place where your talents, skills, and passions overlap in ways that add value. I find that the most centered and accomplished people I know have a clear understanding of their purpose.
Have a Plan
Many of us plan in parts of our life like our diet or our jobs, but we fail to utilize the power of planning holistically in our lives. Whether it is career, family, health, or spiritual growth, we can either be intentional about our direction or just “go with the flow.” We can either be intentional about developing powerful life changing habits or give in to our bad habits. A plan is not just dreams rolling around in your head of a better tomorrow. As we know, hope is not a strategy. Planning is about taking the time out to reflect and write down the things you want to accomplish. This involves goal setting and considering the obstacles in your path that may need to be overcome.
Writing down your personal mission and goals is only the start. Now you have to execute in actually trying to live it out day by day. I find that it helps tremendously to have people in your life to help you be accountable. I am starting on a new book, and I have two accountability partners who will be regularly checking on me to make sure I am following through on my execution. For many people it helps to have a group or someone to work out with rather than go it alone. As you share your “intentions” and plans with others you can gain their encouragement and support.
We live in a time of unprecedented change. The pace is fast and the needs are great. It takes hard work, focus, and planning to keep up in our work. I hope you will consider utilizing those same skills to be intentional about your life as a whole. I am passionate about encouraging others along this path because I have seen so many people experience the joy and freedom of intentional living. I promise you this - you won’t regret it!