As summer winds down, a lot of us take a look at what we haven’t accomplished among the myriad vacations and barbecues and nice days spent out in the sun. And we recommit: September 1st is our new January 1st, a time where we set new goals, start new habits, and hope to finish the year strong. We start with great intentions–we’re going to get up early and workout, read more, watch less TV, spend less time on our phones, and get rid of those extra pounds ahead of the holiday feasting.
But no matter what time of year we set goals, there’s always something to get in the way.
Going after a goal requires focus and intentional decision-making, not just good intentions. Many of us lack the practices that will allow us to remain intentional for the long haul. How can we protect our intentionality so that a year from now we are rejoicing over what we did accomplish instead of regretting the things we gave up on?
As you strive toward your goals, be aware of these four thieves of good intention:
- A busy schedule: Busyness is nothing new, but figuring out how to pursue a new habit or goal in the midst of a busy schedule can be overwhelming. Moving forward in life requires a specific strategy: think of your new habit or goal as a non-negotiable. You’re going to spend some time on it EVERY DAY, even if it means you lose some sleep doing it. (Hint: when you start losing sleep for what’s important, you learn to cut out what isn’t.)
- An immediate yes: Most of us want to be helpful, but we’re also fearful of missing out on an opportunity when it presents itself, particularly one that sounds exciting. However, if you want to live your life with intention, guarding your “yes” is vital. Hastily agreeing to engage in an opportunity that comes your way will leave you overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to dedicate the time necessary to pursue the most important things in life. Do it often enough, and now you’re working on someone else’s dream–not your own. Be wise and take some time before you respond “yes” to an invitation to participate. It’ll help ensure that every “yes” is one that is moving you further down the path toward your goals.
- Disorganization: Nothing stifles good intentions like disorganization. If you can’t keep track of your current goals and priorities, how can you expect to do so with that great new idea you’d like to pursue? So, take some time to get organized. Create a task list–if you don’t have one–and prioritize it. Declutter your work environment. Be brutal about what you allow in your space. If you don’t need it, ditch it. There’s nothing worse than nearby piles of paper (or books) constantly distracting you with guilt for not paying attention to them. Your goals deserve a fresh start.
- Procrastination: We like to have the perfect plan outlined before charging towards a new goal or habit. But, if we don’t have it all figured out by the day we want to start, we delay our progress, and our good intentions run out the door like a teenager who just got their driver’s license. Procrastination precedes abandonment. Don’t let procrastination rob you of the satisfaction of accomplishing a great goal. Just start. Anywhere. Starting imperfectly is better than waiting for a perfect strategy. Even if the start is shaky, it’s still better than waiting on the future.
There’s never going to be a perfect time to set a goal and stick to it. So why not now?
Go ahead. Be intentional. Set those goals. And keep those four thieves busy working overtime on someone else’s good intentions.
Comment below: What’s one thief of good intention that you seen in your own life?