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Be Intentional and Make Progress

MAKE PROGRESSAre you acting with intent, or are you just acting? …which really means that you’re reacting.

I react a lot. Sometimes I overreact 😉

In fact, it’s fun to react. I love those days when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

I love when there’s a lot of activity and the challenge is to figure out how to dodge, duck, and dive around the obstacles. It’s fun to figure out what immediate action is necessary to resolve an issue or tackle a problem that you didn’t even know existed a little while ago.

There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with reacting well to immediate challenges, particularly when I can attach them to some larger goal. That justifies my actions even more.

But the truth is, it’s also satisfying even if I can’t tie my actions to some lofty goal.

It’s satisfying because I can take action and see results right away. The immediate feedback is rewarding. That’s how gamifcation works, and it’s what gets me hooked on reacting to things even though I’m not a gamer (not since the days of the arcade version of Donkey Kong anyway).

If I do this too much, though, I find that I’m not feeling any rewards at all over the long term. I’m not feeling a sense of accomplishment from simply being busy.

Which is why I’ve found it to be incredibly important to be intentional.

Acting with intent is crucial for things that matter in the long term. And a lot matters in the long term.

Acting with intent is game-changing.

The amazing thing is that shift can be subtle but still yield huge results.

It’s all about mindset. It’s all about shifting perspective to one that is forward-looking and focused on some larger goal.

It’s all about thinking about how what I’m going to do next will build to something more substantial over time. It’s about pursuing a thread of thought persistently over time and throughout various endeavors.

If you go into your day with intent, there will still be all sorts of things to react to and you’ll need to adjust accordingly. But you can come out the other side with at least incremental progress in a variety of areas.

First, you can control more by being intentional. A simple example is in how you start your day. If you intend to get something important done, do it first.

Forgo checking your phone, watching the morning news, or stopping by the local coffee shop until you make some progress on your top priority of the day. Then, even if the rest of your day goes haywire, you’ve at least made progress in an important area.

Second, go into tasks with more intent. As you engage in that next meeting, do you have a longer-term goal in mind?

Perhaps you want to improve a particular relationship, learn more about some specific subject area, or get feedback on a new idea. Take the opportunity to shift how you approach the meeting to work toward that longer-term goal.

Third, reflect on the day and plan for the next. As you look back on your day, use it to inform your strategies for making the most of the coming day.

What intention do you want to set for the next day? What will be your important morning task? How will you approach some already planned activity and use it to serve longer-term goals? How will you want tomorrow to feel when you reflect back on it at the end of the day?

Try one or more of these ways to be intentional and see how it feels. See how you react…