On Being Intentional

A couple of months ago, I had lunch with a colleague. We’ve hit it off, and I’ve come to see him like a little brother of mine. His fiancée is a nurse working night shifts to save money for their wedding. He said time with her was few and far between. I told him they needed to be intentional about time together. Otherwise, it wouldn’t happen, and they risked growing apart due to their opposite schedules.

What is being intentional?

When a person is intentional, they make a point to do something. They make it happen. For example, marriage counselors will often tell couples to have a weekly date together by writing it on their calendars. That way, if their date is on paper, they will be less likely to push it aside.

Who can be intentional?

Everyone should be intentional about their lives. If we aren’t, good habits don’t form, and life can be a series of reactions rather than actions that make things happen. Sometimes, life does swing out of control, and it throws us off course. But being intentional leads to living better lives.

Where in our lives can we be intentional?

We can be intentional wherever we are in life. Our fitness. Our marriage and other relationships. Our diets. Our sleep habits. These are just a few places where being intentional can be of great benefit.

When should we be intentional?

At every opportunity. Our lives are busy. It’s easy for things to fly out of control. For example, experts have long preached about consistent sleep schedules. With today’s digital devices, it’s easy to keep scrolling and scrolling until past our scheduled time for sleep. Then, our mind keeps active when we should sleep. Being intentional about setting aside digital devices an hour before we head to bed could stave off sleeplessness.

Why is being intentional important?

Being intentional means caring enough to ensure something happens. It means setting things up to make it happen. I know physical fitness is important. To ensure I make it to the gym a set number of times in a week, I note which days I can go. I pack my bag. And I ensure that I leave work early enough to make it happen.

How can we be intentional?

Plan ahead. This can be as simple as marking a weekly coffee date on a calendar or as complicated as laying out items to take on a trip. The important thing is to lay out a plan. Without that, most things won’t even get off the ground.

Make a choice to act. “The best laid plans can go to waste.” That’s cliché, but it’s true. We can plan all we want to do something, but if we don’t make the decision to do it, things will fall apart very quickly. For example, I’m writing this blog on a Sunday, a day when we slow down and rest. I can get lazy very quickly. Yet I know we want to go to the gym and work out. I can pack my bag all I want, but if I don’t actually pick it up, head to the car, and go to the gym, it won’t happen.

Recognize the results. When we plan ahead, and follow through with it, we usually experience great rewards. It can be that push that comes after a good workout, or the feeling of intimacy that comes after spending time with a spouse over coffee. Or that rested feeling that comes after getting to bed earlier. Whatever it is, being intentional creates good results.

During our lunch, my colleague listened closely to me. Then with a smile, he said, “Wow. Being intentional. I like that.” I’m hoping he deployed that thought into his pre-marital life. If he did, he and his fiancée will stand a better than good chance at starting their marriage off with good habits.

Question: What are you intentional about, and how do you accomplish that?

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