If you are reading this on November 3, 2016, 306 days have flown by this year. (If not, click here to see how many days that have gone by this year.) 306 days!! That is 7,344 hours that have been consumed by a myriad of activities. Some were of high importance and some that were dismissed with reckless abandon. I am sure that there is a percentage of those hours that you can recount in vivid details, articulating exactly what you did and the exact outcome. Probably, if I can be slightly presumptuous, the vast majority of those 7,344 hours are a blur of unrecognizable action. And I am not even taking into consideration the approximate 2142 hours spent sleeping.
The reality is that your life is intentionality racing towards an ending. Morbid? Maybe. But you know it’s true. You will cross the finish line at some point. So when you cross, what impact will you have made?
The Intentionality Factor
You will intentionally lace up your shoes and go for a run. Or you will intentionally kick up your feet and turn on the TV.
You will intentionally attack your day with precision, focused on impact. Or you will intentionally choose to let hours slip through your fingertips.
You will intentionally seek moments to encourage and empower those who you lead. Or you will intentionally discourage and micro-manage those your lead.
You will intentionally turn off your cell phone during dinner to focus on your family. Or you will intentionally check and respond to your messages.
You will intentionally serve and love your spouse. Or you will intentionally focus on yourself and your needs.
You will intentionally give with a spirit of generosity. Or you will intentionally hold on to your resources and spend with a spirit of consumerism.
You will intentionally have an ongoing conversation with God throughout your day. Or you will intentionally ignore His active presence.
Every moment of every day, you are living intentionally. The question is not, “Are you Intentional?”. It is “What are you intentionally doing?” And you must ask the next follow-up question: “Are you intentionally doing the right things?”
#1: Clarify Your Purpose
Several years ago I had the opportunity to go through a Life Plan process. To say it was a life-clarifying process is the understatement of the century. The two-day process circled around my life uncovering truths that reflected exactly how I was wired. The skeptic in me was quickly silenced as a simple and profound statement emerged on the oversized piece of paper taped to the wall. My life’s purpose is this:
Maximize every day by leading myself and others to live out their God-given potential and purpose.
This statement, which I placed as the wallpaper on my computer’s desktop, has guided my decision-making process as it comes to how I leverage my time, where I focus my leadership energy, and the type of organization I work for.
So let me ask you a question. What is your purpose? It is imperative that you have a great grasp on this. If not, intentionality will push you from path to path causing you to wander through life. And you don’t need a two-day Life Plan to get clarity on your purpose. (Now I do highly recommend it.) First, block out an afternoon. You need a block of time that is distraction free. Think through what you like to do and what gives you energy. Next ask yourself, “How do I take what I like to do and leverage it to positively impact people?” And then share what you write with people that know you and you deeply respect. The more you circle around the question, the clearer you will be about your purpose.
#2: Choose what NOT to do.
You are living life on purpose, right now, in this very moment. You are purposefully reading this and investing in yourself. And when you are done in a few moments, you will purposefully do something else.
I just started a new job, which doesn’t really feel like a job at all. Right after I finish writing this, which I have been working on for several weeks, I am developing a six-month plan focused on connecting with people (staff, influencers, volunteers, and community leaders.) If I don’t schedule time now (purpose) to schedule my time (purpose) then my time will be used in other ways (purpose). By being highly focused on what I will do in the next six months, I will purposefully choose not to do a list of things.
#3: Commit to Your Plan.
There are strong, unrelenting, and manipulative forces being applied to knock you off purpose. If you don’t think so, just take 5 minutes and look at last week. What were your goals? And what did you actually accomplish that was the priority? Did you allow anything on your calendar that shifted your focus? (And I realize that flexibility is key and you have to adjust to accommodate a boss, a friend, or other life/work realities.) What about your New Year’s Resolutions? How are you doing with those items? No one is going to fight for you and your purpose. Yes, there are well-intentioned people that will say the right things to you, but then will be the same people that will also shove you off course.
John Maxwell phrased it this way: “Wanting to win isn’t enough. You have to go through a process to improve. That takes patience, perseverance, and intentionality.”
If you are not intentional with your life, other people will intentionally live your life for you. Either way, intentionality is going to guide your steps. Today, intentionally choose to live with intentionality!