The Power of Intention
Aaron and I spend a lot of time thinking about, and reflecting upon, our goals. Whenever we decide to take action towards one of those goals, we generally run through an informal checklist so we feel we truly understand what we are attempting to accomplish, why we are attempting to accomplish it, and whether or not we are getting it done in a way that represents a win for us and other stakeholders who may be involved. Usually, this checklist looks something like this:
- Intention Questions
- Why am I doing this?
- What do I want to result from my action? What is the best possible outcome?
- Strategy Questions
- Does the best possible outcome align with my short-term and long-term goals?
- What are the risks (financial, personal, reputational, etc.) of this action? Can I live with the worst possible outcome?
- What opportunities or challenges might arise down the road due to taking this course of action?
- Is this the most efficient way to achieve whatever it is I am hoping to achieve? Is there a course of action that can get me the same results with less energy, time, or cost?
- Moral and Philosophical Questions
- Does this course of action align with my deeply held moral and philosophical beliefs? Is it consistent with my own, idealized, best version of myself?
- What are the costs to others? Are those costs fair?
- Implementation and Execution Questions
- What steps will I take, in which order, to implement this desired course of action?
- Are there ways I can outsource the implementation tasks that are not the best use of my time so I can focus on being more productive on high-return activities?
It can be tempting for people to overlook that first group of questions – the intention questions. This is always a mistake. Taking time to get to the bottom of our intentions – trying to figure out the “why” whenever we want to do something – helps us identify the core issues much more quickly. It adds a clarity to our thought process and often lets us see solutions that we might have otherwise missed. It makes us more effective. It also results in us being happier because it is nearly impossible to think about your intention in taking an action without being honest with yourself about what you are feeling; connecting your head and your heart with a thread that is not easily broken leading to a more authentic, integrated life.
It seems like such a simple thing but once you are aware of it, you’ll begin to notice that few people use this powerful tool in their own lives and businesses. Reflecting on your intention should be second nature; a habit so ingrained that you find yourself doing it whenever you contemplate any path or change.