Were you intentional in 2020? Let’s face it; we’re all exhausted from this disastrous year and can’t wait until it’s over. And even though we’ll have the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve and a turn of the calendar, it’s not clear that 2021 is going to be much different. However, being the optimist that I am, I’m simply refusing to accept such a negative outlook.
Several years ago, I chose a word for the upcoming year to be motivating and inspirational. Being the creative soul that she is, my daughter made me a word banner for my office to serve as my vision board of sorts. My word was DELIBERATE. I selected that word because I felt that I was letting too many things just happen to me or around me. Because of that, I wanted to be more deliberate in my choices and actions.
This year I am challenged once again with a similar outlook. The word I’m choosing this year is INTENTIONAL. I’ve written blogs in the past related to intentional goals or goals with intention. I like the word intention because I feel a certain ‘ummph’ behind it. It’s not just a goal; it’s an intentional goal with a very defined purpose. Moreover, there’s an inference to being well thought out, designed, and analyzed. Intention has teeth and emotion attached.
So I’m committing to being INTENTIONAL for the rest of this year, and 2021. Instead of waiting for the year to end and hoping that things get better, I’m challenging all of us to analyze 2020 and be intentional about 2021. Not only that, I’m going to give you a tool called Intentional Life Planner to help you design your insanely intentional year.
Let’s first analyze what’s intentional now
To know what to be intentional about, we must first understand our starting point. What’s going on for you right now? Have you taken any time lately to contemplate what’s making you happy and content? Are there specific areas of your life that are causing you more trouble and stress? To see your big picture, take a few moments, or even an afternoon to complete this exercise. It will allow you to see where you want to be more intentional.
First, make a list of your life and work areas you’d like to assess and build. For example, you might choose from the following list (as many as you’d like):
- Work/Life Blend
- Mental Health
Once you’ve collected your list, place them horizontally in columns either on paper or an electronic document like a spreadsheet. See the following example. If you’d like to follow along with your own document, here is a download for your use: Intentional Life Planner Download
Then write a few short phrases describing your current status in each area in the middle of the page, leaving space above and below. Here’s an example.
How could things get worse?
Now that you have your current situation laid out in front of you, let’s take a few moments to think about how things could worsen.
What?! You’re thinking! Why in the world would I want to imagine things being worse than they are right now? I know! This exercise is scary stuff, but it’s also imperative in this planning process. I promise you’ll see the value in it.
Look at each area and capture what the worst-case scenario might be for each one. What could happen in each area that would tremendously disappoint you? I’m calling this your Least Desired State.
This exercise achieves two things. First, it makes you realize that your current state may not be so bad. And in many cases, it’s not. You may find areas of your life in which you are perfectly content. That’s great, and those areas probably won’t require a lot of your attention in 2021 if you keep doing what works for you. The second thing this exercise does is allow you to use your imagination and contemplate what really would be a bad situation for you. What would be the worst thing that could happen? And even though you could definitely handle the worst thing and turn it around if you wanted, admitting to yourself what that scenario entails can be eye-opening.
How could things be optimized with intention?
Now that you’ve worked through the frightening scenario, let’s focus on the potential of “what could be” in your life. This time, you’ll look at each area you’ve selected, and you’ll determine what the most desirable state would be for each one. You could choose a time frame of 2021, or longer if you prefer.
Use your imagination in this step of the exercise. What would be your wildest dream in each area? How could it be even better than it is now? Don’t worry about how you would attain such a feat; just let your imagination tell you what it is. Your description should be something that excites you and fills you with a sense of purpose. Don’t worry if you have an area where you don’t want anything to change. That’s ok too. If the specific topic is already optimized for you currently, then that’s information you can use.
Now, capture your thoughts for your ideal state in each column at the top of the page.
What steps would you take with intention?
Now you should have a completed table of the current, worst case, and most desirable states for your life in each of the areas that you’ve selected. We’ve specifically left some space in between each of the conditions for a reason. The next step is to spend some time contemplating each of these areas and capturing the actions or behaviors that might lead to an undesirable state or the most preferred one.
This step may take some thought. For example, if you are happily married and have a good relationship with your spouse, what kind of activities or behaviors would lead to an undesirable state of divorce? You probably can’t imagine it, but things like disrespect, indifference, spending less time together, not acknowledging feelings, nagging, yelling, etc., could undoubtedly lead you down that path. I surprisingly found my past behaviors fitting the descriptions I’d created in my contemplation of this question.
These behaviors or actions can be small things. Add one to each line between the current and undesired states for each area.
What to do and not do with intention
The beauty of completing this exercise in its’ entirety is that you now have a map of intention. All of the behaviors and descriptions on the bottom half of your plan are things you want to either stop doing or altogether avoid. These elements are the things that will take you in the wrong direction. The top half of your plan contains the intentional actions you want to design your life around for next year and beyond. They are the behaviors and activities that drive you forward towards your vision of success and purpose.
I hope you can see this as a very useful tool to wrap up the year of 2020 and blast into 2021 with intention. If you need help don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Core Impact Coaching. Here’s the download for the Intentional Life Planner.
Lynn Zettler is an Executive and Leadership Coach specializing in helping to create amazing leaders with excellent communication skills, exemplary accountability cultures, and impactful strategic plans.
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