Move with intent

Archery is the epitomy of intentionality — image credit FT Architects — Tokyo

Is your pain threshold too high for your own good?

I am pretty good at living with discomfort. “Embracing the suck”, as they say in army circles. Persist! Never give up!

But I have started wondering lately how good of the thing that actually is.

Let me explain.

”if you’re going through Hell, keep going!”

Winston Churchill

At what point along the journey that sucks, do you decide that life was not meant to suck? When do you stand tall and decide it’s not lack of grit or perseverance that is making you stop, but common sense and solid decision making? Do you really need to justify this? To yourself? To others?

When is abandoning considered smart and when is it considered an act of wimping-out?

Tony Robbins rightly says that ”you get what you tolerate” So at what point do you say to yourself, and the world, ”I will tolerate no more!”?

I propose this 3-step guide for deciding whether to continue down the path or throw in the towel.
Or perhaps we’ll use the more politically correct term ”to pivot”.

Step 1: Decide where the goalposts are and stop moving them

As Richard Feynman rightly said, ”the first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool

Make an inventory — good, bad and ugly, as objectively as you can. Stand outside yourself and evaluate the situation. If you were to start fresh today, knowing what you know now, would you take a different path? If so, then why are you persisting on this path you are on?

See reality as it is. Not better, but certainly not worse that it really is either.

Visualize the worst-case outcome of not moving or changing.
And then the ideal outcome and the best-case result you could obtain by taking action. This action can be to persist, but with a clear view of the end goal and and defined markers along the path.

Or the action can be to clearly and consciously stop or change direction

So put the stake in the ground, define the goals and don’t move them!

Step 2: Question your courage

Are you afraid to take action because of the unknown consequences that may result? Will it lead you down a potentially treacherous path? It’s OK to be afraid, however you need to acknowledge that and label it appropriately.
On the one hand, this will reduce the fear and on the other hand, will allow you to evaluate its truth, perhaps even the origin and veracity of its existence.

Are you choosing to hang on to easy excuses? Are you avoiding difficult conversations?

Or are you being lazy?

Making certain decisions requires courage. Respect that and admit it. Actively think about how you make decisions and about how you can improve your decision-making process.

Remember that the clearer your desired outcome, the less need there is for courage.

Step 3: Move with intent

Intentionality is the key to success.

We do so much every day out of habit, most of our choices are not fully intentional decisions. They are not inspired actions flowing out of a process of determined and active evaluation of opportunities, with their pro’s and con’s.

They are not the fruit of asking “why” 7 times and being totally clear on what our motivations are.

When you make decisions, you must make them with your eye on the desired future outcome.

Sadly, most decisions are the result of quick choices born out of lazyness. Too lazy to think, or to develop a process or mental model for thinking, evaluating and choosing.

Often they are justified by gut feeling.

Decisions may be glorified by reasoning that, because they were made quickly, they are proof of your skill as a leader.

Your ability to think on your feet.

“Changing the wheels on the bus while it’s moving!”.
Well, yeah, only to see it careening off a cliff.

So put intentionality at the forefront of decision making.

Return to step one, visualize the goal and desired outcome and think through the steps you must take to get there.

Then take action on the first step.

As a final note, here is another, alternative, option if you are having trouble deciding what it is you truly want: decide what you definitely do not want and be intentional about NOT getting that.

Sounds too simple to be useful?
Give it a try and make sure you’re intentional about it.

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Engaged entrepreneur, lover of life, pathological optimist, committed to making us all better humans

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Peter Blanken

Peter Blanken

Engaged entrepreneur, lover of life, pathological optimist, committed to making us all better humans

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