Intent and action

Fundamentally, our lives boil down to just two basic aspects — what we think (intent) and what we do about it (our actions). What happens in between is just binary — you either act on your thoughts or you don’t. And that’s totally acceptable because it’s insane (and even dangerous at times) to be acting on your thoughts as and when they come. You’ve got to give it a thought and do what’s needed after careful evaluation.

That’s precisely how kids take almost all of their decisions. (Sure, it’s an oversimplification, but just play along with me.) As we grow into our teens and adulthood, things begin to change as our personalities, our self-identity, and self-awareness begin to evolve. Having been through these phases myself, I can confidently say that almost everything that I am today is the result of the action I took after carefully evaluating my intent.

Now, let me clarify — this isn’t one of those philosophical discourses on the meaning of life or karma. Trust me, I have better things to do and say.

Here’s what I am coming at — one of our biggest challenges bar none is failing to act on our intent. Particularly the ones that matter — career, personal goals, relationships, and health. We tend to get tangled among the multiple options in front of us, brood for some time, get lost in another set of breathtaking options that we could be evaluating, brood some more and before you know it another year has gone by and you’re still stuck wondering why the heck haven’t you made any progress.

From my experience, I can tell that getting things done is all about focus. Of course, we have to carefully evaluate our options and pick the ones that are the most important to us (as in “will move the needle for you” and not anyone else). Once you do that you have to get busy working towards your goals. How hard is it to do that? Now, that would be an understatement. Apparently, there’s this thing called drive that may get in the way.

The drive is the intermediary between intent and action. Think of it like a set of wheels (a bus?) that will take you from point A (intent) to point B (action), which will lead you to point C (outcome). And there are no other means of transportation available. The big question is this — what would you do when you know you want to get to point B because that’s what will lead you to the outcome. You know the answer, “hop on the bus!”

But here’s an even better question — what would your response be if I were to tell you that I know I want to get to point B but I just don’t feel like getting into the bus? I can’t think of anything but two possible responses:

  1. Walk towards point B, but it just might get a little too late by the time you reach there… as in the point C (the outcome) won’t even matter!
  2. Just stay at point A and rot!

If you have a third one, let me know.

I know this sounds silly but you need to believe me — this is a major challenge with our millennials and wantreprenuers (and even entrepreneurs for that matter). They simply don’t want to hop on the bus. Perhaps they’re waiting for a better option. Or maybe they remember that Geography 101 class in high school where the teacher said the continents were originally spread apart but eventually got closer. Likewise, they’re hoping that point B will eventually come closer to them. (Perhaps they would like to wake up one day and find themselves in point B!)

As a coach, I can’t help but navigate conversations and have my clients introspect and reflect on the possible options they have. One obvious solution is to break things down step-by-step and get on the bus. But then they have to have a system in place that will keep them accountable and give them real data on the progress they’re making.

And of course, like all things, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can certainly start with a pen and paper. But you have to do it! Because nobody else is going to do it for you. What that essentially means if you don’t have the desire to do it stop wasting your time thinking about it. Perhaps, option 2 above is the best for you. If that doesn’t sound appealing, get on the fucking bus!

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