How do we use reason to guide our path to success, meaning the ability to achieve our goals and have what we want? We need to focus on living intentionally, by following three basic steps:
- Evaluating Reality Clearly, to2. Make Effective Decisions, that
3. Achieve Your Goals.
To learn more, check out this video, and read the in-depth description below:
Step 1: Evaluate Reality Clearly
What does it mean to evaluate your reality clearly?
That means gaining a deep understanding of your external environment — your immediate surroundings, your social circle, your career, and anything else of relevance. That also means your own internal environment — your patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. Four factors obstruct our ability to evaluate reality clearly:
- Social prescriptions about appropriate ways of perceiving reality;
- Cached thoughts based on our previous experiences that lead us astray;
- Thinking errors that our brain makes due to faulty wiring;
- Finally, an emotional reluctance to face the truth of reality when that requires changing our minds and updating our beliefs based on new information.
Learning about and watching out for these challenges in a systematic manner improves our decision-making.
Step 2: Make Effective Decisions
Next, you want to make effective decisions about how to reach your goals.
Consider your options, based on your knowledge of your outer and inner environment. Be aware that you can change both your external surroundings, and your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, to help you to get what you want in life.
Evaluate the various paths available to you, assess the probability that each path will get you to your goals. Then make a plan for how to proceed, and take the path that seems best suited to go where you want.
Step 3: Achieve Your Goals
Finally, implement the decisions you made and travel along the path.
Remember, you will usually encounter some unknown obstacles on your road to what you want. Be excited about getting feedback from your environment and learning about better paths forward.
Take the opportunity to change your path if a new one opens up that seems better suited to help you meet your goals. Be open to changing your very goals themselves based on what you learn.
As you can imagine, these things are easy to say, but hard to do. It’s very helpful to get support along the way, through learning about strategies oriented toward this purpose. However, above all, it takes your own commitment to the goal of gaining greater agency over your life and living intentionally.
Here are some final thoughts to consider:
- What personal experiences did you have that illustrate the benefits of living intentionally?
- What have you gained from reading this article?
- What specific steps can you take to implement the strategies described here into your life?
Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an activist for reason and science popularizer, and runs a nonprofit that helps people reach their goals using science, Intentional Insights; authored Find Your Purpose Using Science, the forthcoming Reach Your Goals Using Science, and other books; regularly published in popular venues such as The Huffington Post, Slate, and Lifehack, reason-oriented venues such as American Atheist Magazine, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Skeptical Inquirer, and Secular World, as well as peer-reviewed academic venues; and serves as a tenure-track professor at Ohio State. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org