It seems apropos, at the time when many of us are making, or have already made, our New Year’s resolutions, to talk about how living with intention can positively affect our resilience, or conversely, living without intention can negatively affect it. What do I mean by living with intention? Living with intention means setting intentional goals and then taking deliberate action towards meeting those goals.
So how does living with intention versus not, affect our resilience? Let me relate it to my own experience. When I started working out in my late 30’s, my intention was to become physically fit so that I could keep up with my kids for a long time. Within a couple of years, I had accomplished that goal. After I became fit, however, I had no real intention or goal after that. While the initial drive to become fit kept me going for a few years, I began to notice that working out was getting stale and I felt a bit aimless. Feeling aimless in turn affected the joy that I had previously found in working out which in turn, negatively impacted my mental health.
Mindful of how this lack of direction was affecting me, I decided that I needed to train towards a new goal – something fresh. So, I set an intention of competing in a Spartan Race. With this new intention in mind, I designed a whole new workout routine and started training in vigour. I soon noticed the spark that working towards a new goal gave me. After I completed the race, the rush of having worked towards a concrete goal and having accomplished something that I wanted to accomplish was huge. When COVID hit in 2020 and I was unable to compete in another race, I was reminded of what happens when we don’t live with intention. Finding myself without something specific to train for, I soon noticed how it was negatively affecting my mental health all over again.
Now think of how this applies to your career or your life. What would it look like if you did not set any intentions or goals? Where would you end up? Probably not where you really wanted to. In their December 3, 2019 blog, Staff Squared HR noted that 85% of people hate their jobs. In answering the question as to why this statistic was so high, they stated a couple of factors, including, type of work and stagnant growth. As for the type of work, Staff Squared HR noted that sometimes people will do any job just to pay their way. I interpret that as having no intentional career goal. Without a career goal, you take job after job without any real direction, which in turn makes you unhappy. As for stagnant growth – to me, it speaks for itself. Without a meaningful next step to pursue, a promotion or maybe just a new challenge, our daily grind on all levels can become tedious and laborious, and in turn impact how satisfied we feel about our lives overall.
The following are some of the things that you can do to live with more intention:
- Set aside some time to plan out your career and your life. Do it regularly since things can change and what you might have wanted to achieve when you were 25 is very different than what you want to achieve when you are 35, or 45, or 55. Also, a reset can reinvigorate you and give you a new sense of purpose.
- Figure out your “why”. What drives you? What is your passion? What is your mission?
- As you come to understand your “why”, set goals that align with it and plan out specific activities for achieving those goals. Once you have everything documented, just take action. Don’t be paralyzed by the enormity of it all. Any action, even a small one, can help you build momentum. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
- If you are a visual person like me, post this phrase where you can see it: “Don’t let life happen to you, let you happen to life.” It will help you to remember to live with intention every day.