April 10, 2015

Live Less Out of Habit and More Out of Intent

Intent > Habit
I’ve been seeing the quote, "Live less out of habit and more out of intent," floating around on social media for a while now. I must have scrolled passed it three or four times (you know, out of habit) before actually, intentionally absorbing the message and allowing it to inspire me to make some life changes. It’s amazing how being intentional versus habitual can be applied to so many areas of life if seeking fulfillment and achieving better results are the goals.

We’ve all done it at some point in our careers – gotten so caught up in the habit of completing tasks and sticking to plans we “know” work until we get derailed. One day, the routine just stops producing the right results. Or, yes, you’re meeting expectations, but never exceeding them. Now you’re functioning in your role at a level where anyone could do what you’re doing, or worse, do it better. What now? You’re forced to make a change, and fast, before anyone else (client, boss, or coworker) notices.

Performing above mediocrity can be avoided every day on the job by taking a moment to assess the different possible approaches for the assignment at hand and intentionally making the choice that you feel will knock it out of the park rather than just sticking to how you “always do it.” Each situation is different. Sometimes the right choice is what will get the job faster; sometimes it’s spending a little bit more time on the thought process; other times it’s enlisting help or a fresh perspective; quite often, it’s all of the above. The point is to be intentional; make a decision that you can stand by because you’ll be better able to explain the thought process behind it and own it.

As an overtime wife and mom, all-the-time daughter and friend, and sometimes everything else to everyone else, it’s easy for me to slip into a routine that barely scrapes the surface of each relational need. In today’s fast-paced world, we can get caught up in trying to be all things to all men all the time, not realizing that when it comes to relationships, quality over quantity is almost always the winning strategy.

I’ve grown to appreciate making memories with the people I care about versus sticking to predictable relationship habits that are too easily taken for granted. Routines are necessary when it comes to making sure every person gets attention, but being intentional about engaging with each person gives them the attentiveness they really deserve.  

Our lives can get to the point where we are solely governed by habits and routine that we forget why we’re doing any of what we do in the first place. Whether we want to adopt a hobby, take a vacation, write a book, or start a new career or business, we make the excuse that our habitual obligations take priority, preventing us from taking action outside of the norm. In other words, habits created by the life we live for the super-ego (what pleases others or society) convince us that the life we want to live for ourselves to truly enjoy what we’re doing needs to take a back seat. This is a myth that can be dispelled by simply making intentional decisions.

There are three types of people: those who make this happen, those who watch what happens, and those who wonder what happened. (I've heard this said a million times, but it recently hit home during a webinar.) In essence, the people who make things happen have only one real advantage over the watchers and the wonderers: they are intentional about what they are doing. They are paying attention and getting hands-on involved with their realities. That’s what real living is – living less out of habit and more out of intent.

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