- in Succeed
I have a suggestion of something for you to try. I call it "set the intention."
The idea is that with each thing you do, you establish clearly in your mind what it is that you are trying to accomplish with the activity you are about to begin.
You set the goal. Set the aim. Set the desire. Set the direction. In short, you set the intention.
This path of intention setting can be done on multiple time frames.
Let me show you what I mean.
Set The Intention On Different Time Scales
- You set the intention for the moment--perhaps to enjoy a meal with your friend
- Set the intention for the day--perhaps to get X done at work, or to enjoy time with your family since it is your day off.
- Set the intention for the year--to learn how to code, or lose a certain amount of weight and then maintain your health.
- Set the intention for 2-3 years--to meet the love of your life and start a family.
- Set the intention for 5 years--to finish college and get a job in the X career field, or build your business up to X in profit per month.
- Set the intention for 10 years--to raise your kids and get them safely and productively off to college.
- Se the intention for 20 years--to build up your career, succeed on your terms, and eventually retire (with plans for retirement as well).
- Set the intention for 40 years--to stay married to your wife or husband for the long haul and grow old together.
- Set the intention for your life--to have contributed meaningfully to your community, raised a happy family, grown closer to God, and left the world better than when you arrived.
I want to emphasize that these intentions don't have to be rigid or create stress for you. They are just that--intentions. Something you are consciously aiming for. After all, aren't you more likely to get somewhere if you have a destination in mind?
"I Like The Cut Of Your Sail"
Think of it this way. Would you rather sail through the adventure of life in a boat that has a goal, has its rigging set, is cruising along with the sails perfectly set to the wind, leaning with purpose as it zooms forward, tacking to and fro en route to somewhere grand?
Or would you prefer to sit idle in a boat? The sails a mess, no destination chosen, buffeted by the wind as the sails flap wildly about?
I should add a couple more thoughts to our analogy. Sometimes even with our best of intentions, with our sails set perfectly, and a skilled skipper behind the wheel knowing what and where he is going, we find ourselves becalmed (stuck and flailing) or in a raging storm (a major life crisis). So intention alone doesn't make life perfect. But it helps.
Also, remember that the skipper learned to sail the ship expertly over time. So don't expect perfect sailing from the start (or ever!).
Finally, no skipper has one destination he sails to forever. He has multiple. So you can set the intention many times over life, trim those sails again, and enjoy the ride……
Clear, Concrete Goals And Deadlines Will Accelerate Your Life
Ok. Ok. Enough with our analogy. Here are a few more thoughts.
First, if you can add very specific metrics and deadlines, setting the intention becomes a lot more powerful. Let me show you that same set of examples, with metrics and deadlines.
- You set the intention for the moment--to enjoy a meal with your friend (ok, no metrics for this one).
- Set the intention for the day--to write 2000 words at work, or to enjoy the entire day with your family since it is your day off.
- Set the intention for the year--to learn how to code and write three of your own fully functional (simple) web applications by December 31, or lose 30 pounds by December 31 and establish a weekly exercise routine of going to the gym three times per week to maintain your health.
- Set the intention for 2-3 years--meet the love of your life and start a family by December 31 of next year by reaching out to three people a week and pursuing dates.
- Set the intention for 5 years--to finish college at [wherever you are studying] University and get a job in the financial sector working on the west coast, or build your business up to $30,000 in profit per month.
- Set the intention for 10 years--to raise your kids and get them safely and productively off to college by 2018.
- Se the intention for 20 years--to build up your career in the biomedical sector, succeed on your terms by owning your own home outright with $XX [you pick the number] saved for retirement, and eventually retire in Arizona to play golf twice a week.
- Set the intention for 40 years--to stay married to your wife or husband for the long haul and grow old together, enjoying the hobbies of XX each weekend and traveling together on a trip at least one per year.
- Set the intention for your life--to have contributed meaningfully to your community by succeeding in your profession of XX and volunteering at your children's school, raised a happy family of XX number of children, grown closer to God by attending church every Sunday or meditating XX times per week, and left the world better than when you arrived.
Intention = Priorities, Focus, Goals
If you would struggle to set up a page that maps out your intentions over different time scales, don't sweat it. We aren't robots! Intentions and life goals are fluid and change over time in any case.
But I do suggest you take a moment to at least attempt to establish a page with bullet points like I did in this post. Make your intentions as clear and specific as possible. You can then refine this and clarify over time.
If you can attach deadlines and specific numbers (such as "I will lose 6 pounds by June 30), this will give you a huge boost. There is something about very clear and specific goals that helps us focus and stay motivated. The process of writing out your intentions may also help you prioritize what is most important.
Yes, Setting The Intention Isn't Everything, But It Does Help
Yes, I want to acknowledge that sometimes aimlessness is just what you need. A break from goals, from focus, from doing, from aiming, from executing. But as a way of life, aimlessness can also be dangerous because we just set ourselves adrift.
So be careful if you make aimlessness your way of life. Instead, set the intention, lean in that direction, establish some metrics, tack back and forth as obstacles and challenges arrive, and enjoy the sail along the way. After all, for sailors like you and me, the joy is truly in the journey itself more than in arriving at any specific destination.
So what about you? Have you set the intention for this moment, for today, for this year, for your life?