I is for Intent
Have you noticed there is a lot of interest and discussion going on around living with intent? I have. The conversations on the internet, magazines etc made me wonder if I had missed some opportunity or in some way wasted time getting to where I needed to be. This led to the quest to figure out just what living with intention is and what it is not. Keep reading to see what I found out.
What is Intent or Intention?
When I asked the great Google Gods they returned oodles of posts and articles asking what the term living with intent means. So apparently, I’m not the only one that was a little confused here. On to the dictionary, or Wiktionary as the case may be. Intent refers to “intention, planned, done deliberately or voluntarily.”
What I Learned in my Research
There are a lot of opinions out there about living with intent. Living with intent encompasses just about everything in your life. Attitude, thoughts, what you eat, if you exercise, where you spend your time. What you choose to do. With the ultimate question being, do your activities support your intent?
Some people equate living with intent to minimalism. While that may be one person’s cup of tea, it may not be mine. I read this article that almost put me over the edge. The author suggested that to live with intent, be a minimalist, get rid of all your possessions and get rid of your pets. The idea of giving up the greeting when I come home, the wagging tail, the purring rub, the unconditional love…and welching on the promise I made to them when I adopted them? It was just more than I could take. I obviously couldn’t live with intent. Yes, I could live without my favorite Spode china. But intentionally live with out Waggity and Wackity? (our nicknames for our lab and husky), no deal. I wasn’t doing it.
I is for Intent
Time to back up. Reality check needed. Before I decided that living with intent wasn’t for me, I needed a fact check. This returned me to the definition. Planned, Deliberate, Voluntary. While being a minimalist (in whatever degree works for you) might be the key to someone else living with intent, it might not be mine. Iironically, I is for Intent, living with intention has a different meaning for each of us, hence the “I”. Before you think that living with intent means you are being selfish…take a step back.
If you are deliberate and intentional about your actions and what you are doing, you are taking care of you. Fulfilling your purpose. If you are your absolute best, you are giving those around you the absolute best of you. How could that be selfish? I know there are always exceptions to the rule, but if you generally focus on being kind, thoughtful and charitable to others the risk of selfishness should be small.
Finding out What Living with Intent Means for You
How do you go about finding out what living with intent means for you? This takes some reflection. Going deep into yourself and recognizing what makes you happy, fulfilled and energized. Versus those things that deplete your attitude, drain your energy and leave you exhausted and unhappy. Essentially, it’s identifying what your purpose is in life, and working diligently toward that purpose.
Recently, a friend recommended a book that she heard about on TV. She was very excited and had read the book in an afternoon. I ordered the book through Amazon and received it just in time for the weekend.
The recommended book was “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. This is not a new book and you may have read it before. If you have questions about your purpose, or how to find it, read it again. After reading it, I realized I had read it before. I think our purpose changes and grows just as we do. The main character of the book is a shepherd in Spain that follows the signs he receives from the universe. He experiences both success and failure but ultimately identifies his purpose and can be intentional about the actions he takes.
Reading the book was incredibly thought provoking. It sparked my memory. Taking me back to places in time in my life where I received messages. These messages were guideposts. Directions to actions a nd at activities. that made me feel happy and fulfilled. What did I do next and what can you do? I started a list, an inventory. The inventory consists of those interactions and things where I spend time and energy.
Recognizing the Noise
What resulted from all this thought and analysis? I’m more thoughtful about how I spend my time, what I allow to occupy my thoughts, what I commit to versus when I say no. The biggest thing, is when I decide to buy into other peoples “stuff” and when I choose to say no. We each have to power to determine what living with intent means to us. The quality of the answer we get its determined by the amount of work and introspection we are willing to under take.
I’d love to hear what your approach is to living with intent? What techniques have you used to define and refine your purpose?