The Intentional Life


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I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.  Let’s start with the bad news.

We’ve got a cultural problem that is hindering our youth.  I’m not sure when it first started… but at some point, it became “uncool” to try.  The negative social stigma around “trying too hard” actually left me in fear of doing my best.  This ideaology spanned the entire spectrum.  Did you practice longer than anyone else for your auditions?  You’re an “overacheiver.”  Study really hard for that test?  You aren’t actually smart if you have to work that hard.  You actually set a goal and train every day for a sport?  You must not have as much responsibility as the rest of us if you can devote that much time to your training..  Aren’t you lucky.

You see… not only are we “effort-shaming,” but actually we brag about how little effort we put in!  Mediocracy is celebrated if we didn’t really work for it.  “I made a 78 on that test and I didn’t even study!” is considered more of an accomplishment than, ” I studied for 20 hours, and I got a 95!”  Cost-benefit analysis is one thing, but this culture of striving to do as little work as possible and still “get by” is holding us back – big time.

So that’s the bad news.  But – the good news!  This awful culture of under-acheivement paves the opportunity for you and me to distinguish ourselves above and beyond this crowd, starting with some basic steps to living an interntional life:

1.  Define What’s Important to You
Living intentionally is to consciously make efforts in support of your values and beliefs.  Whether you realize it or not, you have values that are important to you.  Start off by listing on a piece of paper everything that is really important to you.  Your family?  Your dog?  Staying in shape?  Working toward your dream job?  Making a lot of money?  Answer the question honestly.  If money is your motivater, write it down.  These are your own priorities, not what others say they “should” be.

2. Make Goals
This is a scary one, because it allows for failure.  Set goals that align with your values.  If you value being healthy, you could set the goal to avoid fast food and buy only fresh produce and meats to cook at home.  If you value being a competitve tennis player, you could set a goal related to winning a certain number of matches or making it to the finals in a tournament. 

3.  Make Choices
The cornerstone of intentional living is the idea that you control your own destiny.  We all make choices hundreds of times per day – what time to set our alarm, whether we hit the snooze button, if we make breakfast or grab something on the go, how we dress for work, how many steps we take throughout the day, etc.  Almost everything we do can be a conscious choice, but we have to awaken our senses and revitalize ourselves to snap out of our daily routine to make changes.  Once you realize that you are CHOOSING to do every small step, and not under the spell of what is “normal” for you, you will feel more free and empowered than ever.  It is then that you can harness these choices to consciously work towards a goal.

4. Take Pride in Your Efforts
You should never feel ashamed of working hard for something.  GREAT THINGS DO NOT HAPPEN ON ACCIDENT.  Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or thinking, and don’t ever mistake hard work for dumb luck. 

Now is the time to take charge of your own life.  There is no such thing as trying too hard, and effort-shaming needs to stop.

Intentional 20s

I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.  Let’s start with the bad news.

We’ve got a cultural problem that is hindering our youth.  I’m not sure when it first started… but at some point, it became “uncool” to try.  The negative social stigma around “trying too hard” actually left me in fear of doing my best.  This ideaology spanned the entire spectrum.  Did you practice longer than anyone else for your auditions?  You’re an “overacheiver.”  Study really hard for that test?  You aren’t really smart if you have to work that hard.  You actually set a goal and train every day for a sport?  You must not have as much responsibility as the rest of us if you can devote that much time to your training..  Aren’t you lucky.

You see… not only are we “effort-shaming,” but actually we brag about how little effort we put in!  Mediocracy is…

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