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Above the Clouds

FOUR STEPS TO EMBRACING THE GAME-CHANGING POWER OF INTENTIONALITY

Last week we launched our brand new series, “Intentionally More in 2024” with the article “IS OVERLOOKING INTENTIONALITY ROBBING YOU OF JOY & SUCCESS?” That piece explored the superpower of intentionality — what it is, why we tend to neglect it and the impact that ignoring it can have on our life. In this second of the three-part series, we’ll discover four ways to cultivate more intentionality to boost our success and happiness.


 

Intentionality — and the lack of it — shows up in our lives in multiple ways. Take these three scenarios for example:


girl playing with cat in cafe

The Unintentional Dating Life

In a bustling coffee shop, Emily is on a date with a potential partner. Instead of actively getting to know the man across from her, she engages in quirky distractions like arranging sugar packets into elaborate structures and playing with the cafe's adorable resident cat. Unbeknownst to her, her date is left bewildered by the lack of genuine conversation and connection. Similar dates with other gents follow, and Emily’s puzzled why she is unable to develop a meaningful relationship.


The Unintentional Isolation

Tara attends social gatherings but hates small talk and prefers to hang out with the one work acquaintance she recognizes rather than actively engaging with others or seeking meaningful connections. As a result, she finds herself facing challenges without a strong support system. When she goes through a tough time, there are few close friends to turn to for comfort and advice. By not approaching her relationships with intention, Tara missed the chance to cultivate a strong network of friends who could provide emotional support and companionship during both good and challenging times. This lack of intentional connection leaves her feeling isolated and highlights the importance of actively nurturing profound relationships.


The Unintentional Career

As a sophomore in college, Joe faced the pressure of choosing a major without a clear sense of his passions and interests. Feeling the weight of the decision deadline, he hastily selected accounting, thinking it was a safe and practical choice. Fast forward four years, and Joe finds himself working as an accountant in a corporate office. Despite excelling in his field, Joe soon realizes his total lack of enthusiasm for the work. He begins to deeply regret not taking the time to discover his interests before committing to a major. The consequences of his rash decision leave him with a sense of monotony, discontent and feeling stuck in his professional life.


Can you relate to any of these scenarios? With Emily, perhaps she was nervous and therefore played with the sugar packs and cat instead of getting to know her date. (Well, cats are amazing so maybe she couldn't help herself!) Maybe Tara is shy and clinging to her colleague gave her comfort. Joe picked a major that would fulfill some needs, like security and income, so his decision wasn't completely haphazard. Yet Emily, Tara and Joe all would have benefited tremendously from adding greater intentionality to their lives. The good news is, it’s never too late, and there are four clear steps to cultivating more intentionality in our lives.



dog with red intentionality cape


 FOUR STEPS TO FOSTERING YOUR INTENTIONALITY SUPERPOWER 

In last week’s article we defined intentionality as the mindful and purposeful direction of our thoughts and actions. Because it’s empowering, accessible within us and leads to greater satisfaction and happiness, I argued it’s a superpower. Living with intention involves aligning our daily choices with our personal values and goals, fostering a focused and meaningful approach to our existence. It's this approach to life that allows us to make decisions that directly lead to the furthering of short- and long-term goals and dream fulfillment.


Let’s get to the good stuff. How we can add intention to our lives and integrate it into our way of living so it becomes how we operate? There are just four simple steps to intentionality, and here they are:


  1. Reflect on your core values and principles (guiding beliefs) so you can align your actions, choices and decisions with how you want to live your life. 

  2. Increase awareness of your actions, choices and decisions by making a point to observe them thoughtfully. From this, you’ll be able to see the habits, patterns, thought processes, triggers and choices you make that align with your values and serve you well and those that do not.

  3. Spend time developing meaningful and bold goals and priorities, both short term and long term.  

  4. Pay attention to how your newly refined actions, choices and decisions contribute precisely to the actuation of your goals and priorities.


number 1, 2, 3 and 4


HOW TO CARRY OUT THE FOUR STEPS IMPACTFULLY

Step 1 involves deep introspection on exactly what our values and guiding principles are as they serve as our guiding light. Only then can we determine how well our actions, choices and decisions will result in us doing things that are out of character or that cause us to experience stress and cognitive dissonance. Having total clarity on how we want to approach life also allows us to enjoy spontaneity without the hangover of regret.


Step 2 of the equation seems pretty straightforward but requires self-compassion, time and patience. And a healthy sense of humor never hurts either! When we live with intention we’re approaching life with a keen sense of self-awareness, and we’re all starting this intentional journal with different levels of that. When we have a significant amount of self-awareness, we make smart decisions. We’re aware of our body language and can “read the room.” We’re thoughtful when we speak. We don’t act out of haste or desperation. We take a pause before we respond. We’re not on autopilot when we shouldn’t be. This step isn’t a snap your fingers and you’re there type of thing, but the more you pay attention, the faster your self-awareness will grow.


Step 3 Considering all important aspect of our life experience, we establish goals, and we prioritize which ones mean the most and receive more of our time, energy and attention. Check out this article on the Wheel of Life so you don't overlook a part of life that helps create a gratifying experience. Also think about the type of impact you want to make on your family, your community, and a cause you care about. How do you want to be remembered both in terms of accomplishment and qualities as an individual?


It’s Step 4 that’s often the trickiest. Life speeds by and is filled with a continuous flow of push and pull energies — energies that drive us to make decisions that either satisfy short-term goals and pleasures or those that help us achieve longer-term goals and deeper desires. And to enjoy life, we need both. And again, this is where having a high level of self-awareness is extremely helpful as it helps us see which of these energies an action or decision is feeding.


For example, if we:


  • Eat this delicious bag of potato chips, are we aware we're making the decision to satisfy a short-term craving vs choosing a handful of blueberries, which would help us achieve our bigger goal of eating healthy? It's our decision to make, and as I said, we need a balance of both short-term joys and long-term goals, so merely being aware of which category the decision falls into can go a long way toward savoring the chips, should we go that route, without the guilt!

  • Buy a stunning pair of new boots (satisfying our short-term desire for something new and pretty), are we aware it’s at odds with our longer term goal of spending wisely? If we go the boots route, we should enjoy the heck out of them and just keep an eye on how our choices fit into our overall quest so we don't let them get out of balance.

  • Take job X, which will pay really well (satisfying a short-term goal of earning good money), are we aware it also will mean we’ll be spending less time with my family (which we’ve identified as our top priority)? Again, we must weigh the pros and cons of short-term vs long-term and know our values so we can make our best intentional decision.


man on journey by ocean

Bolstering our intentionality is a journey, and like all kinds of meaningful transformations, it requires time, patience with the process and self-compassion. And you don't have to wait for happiness until everything falls into ideal intentional alignment for you; you are sure to experience joys and lessons learned along the way that will be invaluable.


If you’re not sure where your intentionality prowess stands, take a few moments to reflect on how clear you are on your core values and goals and how your daily decisions align with them. And stay tuned for Part 3 of the Intentionally More in 2024 series, "The Happiness Blueprint: 7 Ways Living with Intention Transforms Your Life and Career," where we’ll explore exactly how to enhance your intentionality and take it, your life and work to the next level.


 

Mindful Transformation Coach Trie Angeleva

Mindful Reimagineur


As a Certified Coach, Owner of Planet Reimagine and with Manhattan as her backdrop, Trie thrives when collaborating with others to reimagine their life, work, leadership or organization. A 30-year vegetarian, adopted-dog mom and travel-happy meditator and yogi, Trie is a former CIO and COO and founder of Embark and The Love Monday Method. She has two Master's degrees, six coaching certifications and a certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. Connect with Trie at trie@planetreimagine.com.

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