Leadership for a Lifetime: Intentionality

“The quality of your commitments will determine the course of your life.” – Ralph Marston

Everyone has a dream—or at least, they should! The question is, will that dream become a reality? Success doesn’t come easily and dreams don’t automatically come true. It takes hard work and proactivity.

What makes the difference between a dreamer and an achiever? One key attribute is a leadership quality we call intentionality. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Being active versus passive
  • Setting goals
  • Staying focused
  • Managing our time wisely
  • Demonstrating self-discipline

People who live intentionally are self-aware. They know what they want to accomplish and are mindful of anything that might interfere. They take responsibility for their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.  They consistently take action to ensure their lives are purposeful and on track.

One thing I (Arlyn) have noticed about intentional people is that they “act on” their circumstances rather than allowing their circumstances to act upon them.  They don’t just drift through life; they approach it pro-actively. They initiate, rather than simply respond.

For young adults, especially those whose decisions have been mostly made for them by authority figures, becoming intentional is a paradigm shift. They need to think of themselves as the responsible party for their life; i.e., by moving into the driver’s seat from the passenger’s seat. Depending on their upbringing, it’s not always easy.

As educators, parents, and mentors, we can help young adults understand that every day of our life is filled with choices, and WE are responsible for how we approach those decisions: Will you try something new or stick with the status quo? Will you follow through on yesterday’s decisions or get distracted by today’s new ideas? Will you associate with people who inspire and encourage you, or who negatively influence you and drag you down? Every decision either puts us one step closer to our dreams, or moves us a step away.

Intentional people are goal oriented and chart a course straight for it. They aren’t swayed by naysayers or distractions.  They find a passion bigger than themselves and take the practical actions necessary on a daily basis to accomplish it. They don’t just have a vision, they pursue their vision relentlessly!

Encourage the young adults in your life to live with vision and intentionality.  Ask them, “What’s your vision? How are you charting a course to accomplish it? Are you intentionally making decisions that will keep you focused and on track?”

And while you’re at it, ask yourself the same questions!  We can all improve our commitment to living with intentionality. The best way to start is to write down your vision, and then set near- and longer-term goals to fulfill it. Manage your time according to your priorities. Stay focused and don’t let distractions sidetrack you.

We live in a tech-y world dominated by constant connectivity and stimulation. Can we discipline ourselves to use technology for our good, and not let it dominate our life, thoughts, and time? Intentional people control technology rather than the other way around.

Finally, intentional people learn from observing other intentional people. So, look around you. Who out there is living the kind of life you want to live, or shares your purpose and vision? Ask them to share their wisdom and experiences and any practical principles that can help you achieve your goals. Why reinvent the wheel?  Besides, the journey is always easier—and more fun—when (intentionally) shared with others!

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