How Being Intentional Can Help You On Your Road to Success

woman doing yoga

We are all familiar with how easy it can be to become distracted while driving. If you give in to one of the many distractions out there you could easily take a wrong turn, find yourself in a ditch, or get in an accident. I often feel like many people are distracted not only on the roads, but also in life in general. Some wander aimlessly (or perhaps drive in circles). However, others are intently focused on where they want to go and how they will get there.

It makes a huge difference knowing what direction you’re headed in and what your ultimate destination is. Your speed and type of vehicle doesn’t really matter–just remember where you’re going. Without the knowledge of where you’re going, what is your purpose? When it comes to driving safely to your destination, it is key to make an intentional decision to ignore harmful distractions while instead focusing on a clear direction. Being intentional is an effective way to stay focused on where we want to go, whether we’re road tripping or pursuing goals.

Avoid Distractions

There are many distractions available to us all the time. Keep in mind, these distractions are not necessarily negative all the time. If the time and place is right, they aren’t really distractions. But if it is time to focus on a separate task, really anything that distracts us can be detrimental. If we are intentional, we are remaining in control of what we allow into our lives and when.

“Intentional days create a life on purpose.” Adrienne Enns

It’s easy to resort to autopilot in our lives. We may lose sight of what is most important to us or get lost trying to meet the expectations of others instead of pursuing what gives us purpose and meaning.

Being intentional means making deliberate choices to reflect what is most important to us. Becoming intentional can help us maintain a positive mindset, reach goals, experience more clarity, and be more present. It can also increase our focus and commitment and bring more purpose and meaning to our lives. Instead of fearing failure, individuals who are intentional learn from their mistakes and continue to make the best of their circumstances.

Stop reading for a moment and ask yourself what fills you with purpose. What is it that gets you out of bed each morning? This could have something to do with your goals (like graduating college), your priorities (such as helping and serving others, providing for your family, or gaining the respect of leaders in the workplace) or even dreams of what your future could hold.

Once you answer those questions, decide if the way you are currently living is in line with that purpose. If someone followed you for a day and took note of everything you did and said, what would appear to be the most important thing in your life? Do your actions match your purpose and deeply held values? If not, what changes could you make to be more aligned with what’s most important to you?

The greatest thing that gives me purpose right now is being a mom. This role takes priority in my life, although being a student also gives me purpose (though in a different way). In order to align my actions with my purpose as a mother, I have learned to be mindful of how much screen time I use when my family wants or needs my attention. While they recognize that I have responsibilities with school, I try to limit my own unnecessary screen time and stay intentional about reading and playing with my kids everyday since enjoying time with them while they’re young is my top priority.

“If you’re going to grow, you have to be intentional.” Curt Kampmeier

You are in the driver's seat--you are in control of your life. No one else gets to decide how you respond to your own life circumstances. Here are a couple of ideas to stay in the driver's seat and capture purpose in your own life.

Plan Your Time, Daily

“Work on purpose, play on purpose, rest on purpose. Do not let yourself or anyone else waste your time.” Izey Victoria Odiase

Have you ever felt stuck in a rut? I know I have! I get stuck in the first place when I lose track of my purpose and meaning. Sometimes, I run into the ditch when I am overwhelmed and don’t take enough time for myself.

I have learned that being deliberate in what I do and when I do each task makes a big difference. Rather than letting a day go by without making conscious decisions, try planning your day. Establishing good habits and routines with your purpose in mind can also help give you a boost and increase your focus and productivity.

Planning your day also helps you to give attention to what is most important and avoid taking on too much. As the driver, you can choose to say no if something isn't in line with your goals, purpose, or values. Having boundaries in place and saying no when necessary can be hugely beneficial. It is easy to get overwhelmed with demands from all directions, so don’t forget to also make time for yourself to relax and pursue something you enjoy.

Set Goals

“You can go slow. Allow your dreams and goals to change, but live an intentional life.” Kumail Nanjiani

Setting goals does not have to be intimidating. It can actually be very simple. Goals are a reflection of what is most important to someone. Setting goals gives us direction and helps us to stay motivated.

When creating goals, be sure they are not only attainable but also clear and specific (but not too restrictive or limiting). It is also important to recognize why a certain goal is important to you personally. Studies show that those who write down their goal are 3x more successful than those who don’t (Coleman & Coleman, 2015). As you write down your goal, I would encourage you to also write down why it’s important to you. Doing so increases dedication and commitment and helps you to stay consistent in actively pursuing your goal. In other words, remembering why a goal is important to you makes it more meaningful which, in turn, yields a deeper desire to accomplish that goal.

Part of setting goals includes creating an action plan. As you create an action plan, include a deadline for the goal and what you will do along the way. Having these milestones ensures a way to track progress and stay accountable. As you make your action plan, think about what (or who) will help you achieve the goal as well as what barriers could potentially distract you from that goal. Knowing these obstacles ahead of time can help you avoid or limit their effects.

When we remember our goals and priorities, we can act on them and see a little bit of progress every day. By accomplishing a small task toward your goal each day (for example, being on time to class) you will stay committed to the goal as you move forward. Every day is a chance to take another step toward achieving your goal, and even the smallest baby step is still progress.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” William James

Living intentionally brings new meaning and purpose to our lives. As we become more intentional, we’ll find that we are happier, more committed, and more focused on what matters most. The choices we make will echo what is most important to us and can help us reach our goals. In this way, our mind and our actions become united.

Don’t just go through the motions on autopilot. Take back the control you have over your life and live with purpose. You are in control of your own vehicle. While you can’t control the weather, road construction, or what other drivers are doing, you CAN make the most of your circumstances regardless of any surprises that come your way. As Aristotle said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives--choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

As coaches, we are here to help you every mile along the way. If you need help setting goals, we are here for you. If you need help with motivation or prioritizing, we are here for you. If you need someone to help with accountability, we are here for you. We love what we do, and we want to help you succeed. To meet the coaches and learn more about what we do, visit our website.

About The Author

Certified Peer Educator

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