“An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“Be not simply good, be good for something.”
Henry David Thoreau
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” Michelangelo
I know, I know. Most of us have hit the post New Year’s resolutions slump, the pre-Spring blahs, and are now riding the daily doldrums escalator wondering if we’re ever going to arrive. While slumps are normal, if we get caught in them for too long, we could lose direction, wandering down avenues that strip us of so much more: joy, energy, inspiration, hope, faith, loss of purpose. Where’s the reward in that?
So, let’s turn it around. If aimless living has no rewards, then targeting each day should get us out of the doldrums and in a better direction. At least a direction. Hows about we take aim at living each day with Intention.
A Life with Real Intent
Most of us spend our days following patterns and habits we have developed through the years – going though the motions at home, at work, at school, online, on task, on schedule. Living with real intent means taking our days and tweaking them with focus. Modifying it with purpose. Many things we do have some kind of intent.
Take some of my routine, for example:
• I clean the kitchen because I don’t want a messy house.
• I go on daily power walks because I want to keep my cellulite from turning into a full-on cottage cheese factory.
• I pick up kids from school because, well, I am their taxi.
Repeating these actions every day causes the intent to sort of fade away, which makes me hardly aware of them. It’s mundane. Routine. Nothing special. The intent was established long ago, so I don’t need to think about it any longer. This puts me in automatic mode.
But…What if that changed?
What if I established an intention for my actions?
How would that affect my deeds?
How would it transform my activities?
What if I cleaned the kitchen, but first thought to do it as a service to my family – to make them happy? Then doing dishes suddenly becomes a meaningful task. The only difference is my intention.
What if I went on daily walks with the resolve to exercise my mind in meditation and prayer as I exercise my body? The daily cardio transforms into an activity of inspiration. The difference is added intent.
What if I picked up my boys from school after, first, deciding to use that valuable time to discuss their day, what successes they had, what drawbacks they faced? Then a car ride becomes a way to bond. The only difference? You got it – intention.
And, what if I began each day determined to “live in thanksgiving daily” (Alma 34:38) – to look for blessings threaded throughout my waking hours? Then a ho-hum day suddenly turns into an abundant garden of goodness.
This is Intentional Living. Tackling tasks with intention. It’s easy to practice in small amounts. The more you apply a Purpose, the more you see a difference. Life is different. More productive. More content. More meaningful.
Cleaning goes from drudgery – to joy.
Walks go from routine – to inspiring.
Chauffeuring goes from mundane – to delight.
Apply intention to any undertaking and from some unknown source will come a shot of energy and surge of productivity. A dull task becomes an adventure. Why? Emancipation, my friend. You’ve just passed from slave to volunteer and taken control of your day.
What a feeling it is!
“A good intention clothes itself with sudden power.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Want to give it a try?
Your day moves with the speed and excitement of a snail tournament. You do what is required. Take the same route every day, clock in, paperwork, clock out. You are reliable, dependable, and quite likely bored out of your mind. Life is milk toast. You dream of weekends and vacations, a different job, a different family, when maybe all you need is a different attitude. A different aim at life. An added intention in life.
Pause on Purpose
So, before you do your next activity, pause a moment, and mentally articulate your Purpose.
Why am I doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or for myself?
Will this enhance the world around me?
How is this going to bless another?
Then go and do. Aim your thoughts. Target your intentions. Live in gratitude, and you will be living a life with Real Intent.
Live with Intention
See the Beauty
Look for the Lesson
Choose to Love
Decide to Forgive
Take Nothing for Granted
Give your Best
Continue to Learn
Follow the Spirit
Dwell in Possibility
Live as if Today were Your Last
(The text from part of this post, I originally wrote in my daughter’s Missionary Blog ciaoroma.blogspot.com, November 2013, Live in Thanksgiving Daily)
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