Kylie and I work as Leadership Coaches with The Crossroad. And one of the terms we use most often is “intentionality”.
There are two ways people do things. The first is on purpose, what we call “with intention”. It is doing things aimed at a target, for a reason. The other is circumstantial, sort of haphazard and subconscious, following the wind wherever it blows today.
The problem with the way we use the word “intentional” is that both of these strategies are riddled with intent. They are both intentionally ways of doing things. In other words: nobody is accidentally doing anything, although it is not a stretch to say it often feels like we are.
The difference, then, is not really a question of intention. We are all intentional. Our actions might be intended for some superficial means like impressing others or some banal means like just getting through the day. Our intention might be not to think about anything. Or to prove people wrong. It might be to put out today’s fire, to attract people with our physical appearance, or to make as much money as possible.
The point is we cannot get away from intention. We do things on purpose, whether we know it or not. Whether we like it or not. Our deepest struggle is not that we are not aiming for things but that we are aiming for the wrong things. Not that we need to live out of intention but that we need to live out of a more accurate, true, and focused intention.
Maybe the difference is about awareness. A lot of the times the intentions we are living toward are subtle or borrowed from pop culture or parental expectations. We don’t really know why we are doing what we are doing. But we are doing things for a reason.
What we really need is to align our awareness with our intention. We need to figure out why we are doing what we are doing. And, most importantly, figure out the real reason we are doing what we are doing. What is the true value behind our superficial longings?
Awareness helps us move further along the spectrum of intentionality. It helps us live more aware lives. A life based on what we truly value rather than the shallow manifestations of those values, the lies that pervert those values, or the twisted mess that comes when we try to borrow someone else’s values as our own.
The first step is to realize we are already living with intention. Just like how we are already persevering through something. The question is not “are you being intentional”. The question is “how intentional are you being? And how are you being intentional?”