Intentionality

Intentionality is a philosophical concept defined as “the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs.” – Standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy

What does it mean to be intentional? Both in my daily comings and goings as well as an overall approach to life? How do I dig deeper to lead myself, and those entrusted to me, with greater awareness? How do I shape my personal, relational, spiritual, and physical goals in a way that pushes my boundaries?

These are all questions I’ve been grappling with as I set goals for the year ahead. What am I hoping to accomplish in 2020? How do they shape who I am today, who I will become, and how that impacts those around me? Existential much? You betcha.

As February unfolds I’ve been thinking and praying over the word* that will shape this year and intentionality has hit me over and over again. No matter what goal I set, no matter the topic, the theme presents itself. As I increase my self awareness the importance of being both conscientious and proactive comes to the forefront. And there’s no better word to summarize those two concepts than the word intentionality.

*A special thanks and shout out to Pastors Jeff Thompson and Ed Ollie for challenging me to pick a word to guide me through the year.

So what are some of the areas in which I want to put intentionality in action? Here’s a small sample:

– Relationships: more time with God, my family, and friends

– Waste: minimize use of plastics, compost. invest in reusable and refillable products, buy less, make more, switch to “the cup”

– Health: eat the rainbow, run weekly, strengthen my core, take daily vitamins, uphold the sabbath

– Finances: take control, make a budget and stick to it

And that’s just a handful! So where to begin?

To be intentional requires a magical mix of elements: awareness, attentiveness, and discipline. I hate that last one.

To be aware means constant re-education on the topic I’m unpacking. Whether that’s health, sustainable living, relationship building, or another area I’m looking to grow in, I have to be in-the-know, all the time. That can be exhausting but the alternative is going around blindly and becoming complacent. Awareness also includes doing a regular self inventory so I know where I stand in my quest for greatness. Just kidding – it’s not about ego – it’s about self accountability.

And that leads to attentiveness. This one’s tricky because I love “newness.” I’m like a magpie spotting a shiny object on the ground. “Ooh, ooh, forget my flight plan there’s something sparkly down there!” This includes the excitement of adding a new bit of decor to my home as well as the thrill of a new idea or endeavor. So remaining attentive to the goals I’ve set is crucial if I hope to stay on track. One of the ways to increase my focus is by having a plan which includes developing routines and checkpoints to keep me in line. If the goal is to eat a wider range of colorful foods, for example, than being impulsive will result in immediate failure. I need to make a weekly meal plan before I pick up groceries and that plan needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Recognize this as a S.M.A.R.T. goal? That’s because you’re of so clever!

Ugh. Discipline. Lack thereof leads to the demise of many goals and resolutions. Developing good habits starts with the painful realization that success requires having a plan (see above), focus, and a community to keep you on task. That can be a friend, family member, coworker, your cat, or as in this case, a blog post. Over the course of this year I will be sharing my goals and progress updates here each month. And I will be doing it with intentionality.

Do you have a word that’s guiding you through 2020? If so – what is it? Share below!

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