One month of 2016 has gone by. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? I’ve been thinking lately about the use of the word “intention” as I hear so many people proclaim: “I live a life of intention!” What does that really mean?
Maybe intention is not “the big deal.”
Consider this, a New Year’s resolution is something you intend on doing. It’s an intention. Yet how many resolutions fall by the wayside by the first quarter of the year if not sooner?
The definition of the word “intend” is “to have in mind.” Yes, this is where all creation begins. Some even say, “Thoughts become things.” Where I see so many of us fail is when we proclaim intentions both to ourselves and to others and then not follow through.
Let’s begin with ourselves. Have a long-term intention, but break it down into smaller pieces to make it actionable. It can be something as simple as: what do I want to get done this month? This week? Today? You can “intend” all you want, but if you don’t have an action plan … you won’t get anywhere. It’s just like taking a road trip without knowing which roads you need to take to get to your destination.
Action plans allow us a way to measure progress. I have read about the benefits of written “To Do” lists, which allow us to list our tasks and then mark them completed. The visual impact is powerful. Personally, I love writing a list on paper or dry erase board and then and drawing a line through the completed item. Yes, I also put them in my smart phone and then delete them, but then there is no visual reminder of what I have accomplished.
Do you ever feel as if you have not accomplished anything over a certain period of time? I recently sat down and wrote down all the things I needed to get done in the next month. At the end of the month, I looked at it and saw all the checked off items. That felt good!
Now that we have a way to bring our personal intentions to life, what about others? Do you tell people of your intention to do something for them or with them? Do you follow through? Do you tell your friends casually, “Oh, we must get together soon,” but never do?
How good is your word? There is an old saying, “A man is only as good as his word.” I learned a saying from a friend 20 years ago that I have since adopted as my motto: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, the First Agreement is: “To be impeccable with your word.” Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.
A failed intention towards others is basically an unkept promise. Consider how you feel when others do not keep promises to you. If you say it, do it. As Yoda would say, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
What is your intention? Make a plan. Do it. Keep your word.
Set your goals for February.
Here’s a bonus: this year you get an extra day in February to reach that goal! Happy Leap Year!