With the coming of a new year, this is the perfect time to take greater control of your life and career. This is not limited to signing up for a new round of exercise or diet programs but living a more intentional life by being proactive and taking responsibility for the progress in reaching your goals.
Many may believe there is little to do to control their life and career, and this is certainly true for some. Most of us, however, have a great deal of agency for steering the direction we want our lives to go. Intentionality means accepting, embracing, and exerting this agency.
I’m embarrassed to say this, but throughout my twenties and thirties I was merely a passenger on the passages in much of my life and career—simply waiting for an enticing offer, opportunity, or path to present itself. Yet I now see that when I am intentional about my daily decisions and choices, this can lead to the most beneficial outcomes.
Such decisions included pursuing a master’s degree in applied behavioral science, starting my own coaching and consulting business, and writing this bi-weekly blog for more than 15 years that led to business opportunities as well as writing a book on emotional intelligence. In my personal life, I chose to ride a bicycle across the country twice, climb to the summits of Washington’s three highest mountains and continue telemark skiing into my sixties.
Each of these accomplishments required consistently planning and working to reach them and would not have happened without being intentional in my pursuit.
Choosing to be intentional about your life and career means you are proactive. This doesn’t mean you control everything, but you are no longer passive and simply hoping to reach what you want to achieve. It means you have a clear goal or north star, yet you can be influenced and inspired by supporting opportunities and take advantage of them when they arise.
Intentionality means taking responsibility for your progress through discipline and persistence. It is also about holding yourself accountable.
It’s especially important to Identify and stay true to your values as they can serve as guardrails to inform you of when you stray from what is most important.
Accept that short term pain can lead to long term gain and reaching your goal is even more satisfying when you have worked hard to attain it.
Roman philosopher Seneca once stated, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Certainly, luck plays a part in reaching any goal, so it’s important to prepare for the opportunities that are certain to come about. This means being more intentional in your daily decisions.
Make this new year more intentional by identifying what you want, aligning it with your values and who you are, and then being proactive and persistent to reach your goals. By this time next year, I’m certain your intentionality will bring you closer to what you want in your life and career. Happy New Year!