On Being Intentional (without biting off more than we can chew)

On Being Intentional (without biting off more than we can chew)

Intentionality runs through my veins; I can be an incredibly focused/determined person and thankfully, my husband is the same (I’m not sure our relationship would survive otherwise!).

In our early days as a couple, we would give each new year a title: ‘Project Wedding/House/Baby/New Business/Extension’. I’m aware that probably sounds a little sad to you but it worked for us and meant that we were really good at seeing whatever it was, through.

In fact we still are; intentionality is definitely a strength of ours. So when the preacher encouraged us to ‘live a more intentional life’ last Sunday morning in church, I felt fairly smug. There are many, many things that I could really do with working on, but intentionality is not one of them. Or so I thought.

Is there such a thing as too much intentionality?

It’s taken me a few days but what I’ve since realised, is that actually I probably have too much intentionality, resulting in this particular strength quickly becoming a weakness. Let me explain…

Over the last seven years, I’ve chosen a word or phrase to shape the coming 365 days: believe, satisfied, sacrifice, grace, trust, release and this year, balance. I am a lover of words so this exercise definitely floats my boat.

In order to be intentional though, specifics are needed; so back in January, I set about working out what ‘finding balance‘ might look like for me. To cut a long story short, what started out as one theme for the year, soon became 12 intentional goals.

Can one person really keep up with 12 intentional goals?

I promised that I would give you a little update on how I’m getting on with finding balance in 2018 and I think now would be as good a time as any. Are you sitting comfortably?

  • Having one admin evening per month – lasted until February ie I did it once. 
  • Taking it in turns to organise one proper date night per month – we started well but March came and went. 
  • Only taking on one home project at a time – I’ve kept up with this so far, son’s bedroom is almost finished. 
  • Planning blog posts and work goals every month – hmm, don’t think I managed this at all. 
  • Reading and responding to emails only on the days I am working – this is laughable. 
  • Taking time to consider before saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to opportunities – I am pleased to say that this has become an integral part of my life. 
  • Unsubscribing from at least one email list every day in January – I did this but it seems to have made zero difference to my inbox. 
  • Carving out time to meet with one friend every week – bingo! 
  • Leaving the house with time to spare – probably happens 1 time in 3.
  • Reading during the day and not feeling guilty about it – this worked well for a while but it never became a habit. 
  • Doing 20 minutes of yoga three times a week – does once a week count? 
  • Resurrecting the hand-written diary – I quickly found it impossible to keep up with two diaries and locating it when I needed it, was a problem.

Anyone reading my optimistic post back in January, probably predicted failure at 50 paces. Intentionality is all well and good but it has to be achievable; this was not.

I also had various intentions of a personal nature, that I didn’t share in my original post – giving to Foodbank once a week, that kind of thing. Some of those I’ve done regularly, others have been very hit and miss; I’m disappointed about that.

What I’ve realised is that my big long list left no room for me to add things as the year progresses and I was unable to see some of the important things through.

Have I failed? I actually think that being able to tick off one quarter of the list is something to be proud of! Recognising where I’m going wrong, whilst laughing at myself, even more so.

Going forward, I think picking off one goal at a time would be better. Top of my list is making sure that date night actually happens, so tonight the OH and I are hitting the town – no time like the present!

I’d love to hear how your goals for the year are going. Remember that there is no such thing as failing, we are all trying and we can’t ask for more than that.

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15 Comments

  1. April 12, 2018 / 9:51 am

    I come across both poles in the work I do as a coach – over and under intentional. I say the same thing to both groups – values are the best way to do goals. Then it becomes a win-win. When you hit a goal or when you don’t, you still get to honour your core values as a human.

    I think the biggest issue is that people don’t know their values well enough so they are intentional about things they can’t stick to because the goals are not the right ones.

    • April 12, 2018 / 9:55 am

      Ooh now there’s some food for thought, Helen! I am just so optimistic about what I can achieve and am passionate about living an intentional life so end up giving myself way too many goals! Core values…hmmm.

  2. April 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    See I’m the opposite when it comes to goal setting. I know I rarely stick to any so I end up not making them at all! This then comes with a whole raft of issues of its own obviously. Instead of setting strict goals I’ve been working through areas to work on without restricting time limits or expectations and this seems to be working much better for me. Having intentions in areas of my life to work within rather than set goals and limits, does that make sense at all? x

    • April 16, 2018 / 10:57 pm

      I’m beginning to think this is me too, Morgana! Areas to work on is probably a better way of looking at it with maybe one goal at a time. xx

  3. April 13, 2018 / 8:40 am

    I love reading this because you and I are such opposites in this sense, I think the only intention I ever have is to go running. At the start of the week I think about what work etc I have to do, then I plan which days I’m going running. I’ve signed up for one half marathon this year and there are another three I might do, I’ll decide nearer the time depending on my fitness at that time.
    Good luck with getting the balance right with your intentions and I hope you and your husband had a good night out.

    • April 16, 2018 / 10:58 pm

      I actually think it is better probably to only have one intention at a time – more likely that you’ll succeed. We did have an enjoyable evening out thank you. xx

  4. April 13, 2018 / 11:45 am

    I totally love your last line. We really are all trying aren’t we and you can say fairer than that! As for unsubscribing – it never seems to work for me either!

    • April 16, 2018 / 10:59 pm

      Grrr it’s so annoying isn’t it?! Yes I am certainly a trier if nothing else.

  5. April 14, 2018 / 9:34 am

    So much great advice and I am really needing this right now when I just put so much on my list to regularly do that’s almost impossible to keep up with for a long period of time. Short period fair enough but we are human and it will get us eventually. I need to prioritize and cleanse that list often and this is the perfect reminder. #wrc

    • April 16, 2018 / 10:59 pm

      I am great at keeping up with them for a very short period of time but I cannot sustain it. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves that there’s no way we will succeed. Cleansing the list is important 🙂 x

  6. April 14, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    One of my favourite phrases is “There is no failure, only feedback”. Add that to “You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got” (another favourite) and I thin you know where I stand on this. You’ve not failed at any of this. You’ve learned what doesn’t work for you and you’re readjusting it into something that does work. That’s success in my eyes. And it’s all any of us are ever doing anyway! Hope you enjoyed your date night.

    • April 16, 2018 / 11:01 pm

      Love that quote – you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Who can ask for more than that? I do think I need to keep reconsidering the list and limit it to maybe 3 or 4 goals! x

  7. April 17, 2018 / 10:10 am

    This is a great post. I am terrible at being intentional and equally terrible at getting things done that I need to do. I’m also terrible at beating myself up about it, so thanks for giving me a good talking to!
    Nat.x

  8. April 17, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    Great post Suzanne. I think having goals is so important but they need to be achievable so they don’t have say a negative affect when you don’t quite achieve them. Love the idea of having a word you focus on each year x

  9. April 20, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    Love this Suzanne, and for what it’s worth I’d say you’ve done pretty well on your intentions for the year so far! I started doing the word thing this year too, and my word for 2018 was balance aswell. I like the thought about editing your life, it’s an evolving process isn’t it? Things change along the way and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much when they do xx

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