Society establishes that we must have goals in order to succeed; however, I can formally state that I don’t have goals! I am different! At first glance, that means I should be spinning my wheels in some random way, right?! No, that does not mean I am aimless in life. Actually, all that it means is that I don’t fit the societal norms and what we are taught. Instead of goals, I have resolved and settled into intentions. I always found goals were too linear and absolute. Create your 1, 3 and 5 year plan and….GO! Well, if I don’t know who I am (which many don’t), then how can I establish these goals and how can I know they are the right things to do. I always found that I don’t work well on absolutes.
Instead, intentions matter to me. Intentions are more pliable and flexible. Rather than linear, they create a ‘V’ shape that allows opportunities to emerge rather than a singular path that has been set. Think of it this way, if an opportunity emerges and it does not line up with your goal, do you give up the goal or do you give up the opportunity? About five years ago, I was confronted with such a dilemma. I started to explore the world of writing and it was never a goal. So as writing eclipsed into my life, I was able to embrace it, rather than give it up. As a result, I am now writing my next book and there is another one in the background.
How did I know that writing was an intention? It lined up with the five key things that make up my life. Many years ago, I came up with a concept that I now refer to the Five Core Elements. The idea was to come up with five things that guide me in life. This was not about career focus but rather life focus. I came up with leadership, storysharing, corporate/community relations, student development and community do-gooder. For anyone who knows me, they say that these five aspects are what make up my foundation. As a result, I started to be a writer and when I compared it to the my Five Core Elements, it hit 5 out of 5 and then I decided to do it. It was never a goal of mine to be a writer. Had I established goals and had to make a decision, I might not have gone down the writing path.
I do realize that intentions might not be for everyone. Some people appreciate and need structure but for those of us who don’t fit that linear path, we can embrace and accept intentions as what works for us. So how does one go about establishing intentions? Well, try the following:
• Try to understand who you are – take time to reflect and see what you have done in the past that you enjoyed or did not enjoy. This can be from work, school, social or cultural
• Next, try to pull some key words or phrases that resonate with you – it is time to start forging your ‘who you are’ by trying on different words on for size. Try a word to describe yourself and ask yourself ‘why’ does that word matter and answer the question
• Understand that these words can change – you are not stuck with these words for the rest of your life but rather they will change as you do
• Ask people around you – some of the best words emerge by asking those who know you. Ask them to describe some words that make up who you are and see if there is consistency
• Once you have the words, then start understanding who you are – see if the words fit and then start to see where they might take you
• Establish the intentions – after you start putting the words you have accumulated together, explore options that might line up with those words
• Find champion and enablers – there are people around you who are happy to share their experiences, open their networks to you, have conversations and help you vision the intention and path. Champions and enablers will not tell you what to do, but rather help you realize the path.
• Now seek out opportunities and compare them to the Five Core Elements and see how many they hit
This process is not a straightforward and easy process. It may not even be for the faint hearted because it is not the norm. On the contrary, you need to take the time to better understand and appreciate who you are so that you can start to walk down the path that matters to you and turn the goals into intentions. This way, you get to be you and I get to be me.
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