Let me ask you a question. Have you thought about how you landed where you are in your life and in your career, and how well you have fulfilled your aspirations? Do you think you arrived right where you are due to a little luck, or being in the right place at the right time, or as a victim of circumstance, or through targeted effort? I once had a colleague say to me many years ago “There is no such thing as luck. It is how we choose”. I had to reflect on this, and all these years later, I realize that there is so much in our control and that the decisions that we make shape our lives.
If you read my previous article on Resilience, we explored the concept that “being resilient” is a choice, and that we have the choice to be optimistic and positive in the face of challenges or setbacks. While it may not be a default thought pattern for many people, it is a learned skill.
Today’s discussion is about how to Turn your Good Intentions into Great Action.
You have probably heard that old saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, which simply says that individuals may have great intentions but fail to take the necessary action. How many times in your life have you had the intention to do something, all for good reasons at the time, but just didn’t act on it for whatever reason? Examples such as improving your health and fitness, having that difficult conversation at work, or promising yourself that you will set better personal boundaries and take up that hobby that you always wanted to do? We have all been there, right?
Wishing a different outcome to a situation does not make it happen on its own. We are in the driver’s seat to create that change, and we must remind ourselves that we always have a choice. Being “intentive”, or acting with intent, will result in positive outcomes for ourselves, our families, and our teams at work, when we take deliberate action.
On occasion, my clients will say “I need to be…., I should do…., I would like be more intentional at …… “. There are reasons why we may not follow through on our intentions, such as procrastination, or for other reasons that we might not be consciously aware of, such as fear, uncertainty, being uncomfortable with change, judgment by others, etc.
I love to share client success stories where being intentional made a difference. Jonie (not her real name), a divisional VP, was experiencing significant physical and emotional anxiety because of her lack of confidence, and constant questioning of her own competence and effectiveness in the eyes of her boss and her boss’s peer whom she works closely with. We explored the root of the confidence block and what she needed in order to calm the voice that was telling her that she wasn’t good enough. She boldly stepped into intentional conversations with her boss and her boss’s peer to receive the feedback and validations that she needed. Instead of fearing feedback, she embraced it, and this resulted in a profound improvement in her mental and physical health.
Now, to create that change for our self is usually accomplished by first setting an intention, and by doing so, we can then make thoughtful choices about how we will actively engage in actions that will achieve our intention. The question is…how can we move through a good intention to produce great action and ultimately realize our intention?
Like most things, real and sustainable change happens with purpose and a commitment. You just need to just get started. Here’s how:
1) Evaluate where you are in life. Take time out to pause and reflect on areas in your life where you want to change or take more control of. As busy people we rarely take the time to reflect or have that “inner conversation” with ourselves that identifies if we are living our values and being “the change” we want to see. Which intentions do you have that will create real value in your life?
2) Ask yourself some key questions:
- What is my “why” that would have me commit to this change or make this decision?
- What difference would this change make to me, my family, my job, my team, etc.?
- What is the consequence of a decision, action, or conversation that does NOT happen?
- Am I making this decision because it is important to ME, and not for others? What are MY reasons?
3) Start small and most meaningful. Identify 1 or 2 most meaningful things that you really want to change that would make your life and work better. You may be inclined to incorporate many changes, however creating sustainable change is done by taking small steps.
4) Make the commitment, the plan, and tell others. Planning and accountability help us keep our commitments. When we know others are watching or being included in the change, we will have many great reasons and support to follow through.
5) Don’t find reasons NOT to make this change. It is easy to get caught up with excuses, creating obstacles or reasons not to, or ruminating on possible negative outcomes, which is our brain’s way of protecting us from risk or failure. Instead, consider “what if” this was the best thing to do to improve your life.
I love the book “Conscious Business” by renowned author and Coach, Fred Kofman, who cites “the price of innocence is impotence”. We can never guarantee an ideal outcome, but if we never take action, we will remain stuck.
NOW is the time to pave that road to HAPPINESS! I can guarantee, we all have some areas in our life where we can be more intentional to create something better, and we owe it to ourselves to be bold and take action.
What ONE change do you want to make in your life or work that you can set the intention to change vs. accepting status quo?
I help many of my clients figure this out through a process of exploration and reflection. To create your clarity and purpose to move your intentions into action, I welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you in a complimentary 20-minute conversation.