Intentionality 101

Intentional living isn’t hard. it may seem daunting, but it isn’t hard.

Since starting Intent/Content, I've received plenty of feedback, but one response in particular has me intrigued.  

“That’s great you’re so intentional with your life. I could never do that.” To which, I think to myself, “Of course you could.” Anyone can be intentional with their life. It doesn’t take talent, great genes, the right education, or the right skillset to be intentional. It’s simply a choice. On more than one occasion, I’ve countered their response with a question. “Why not?” and almost every time the answer has been one of the following:

  • It’s too hard
  • It’s too much work
  • I don’t really like to-do lists
  • I don’t have time
  • I wouldn’t even know where to start

If living an intentional life sounds too hard or like too much work, then don’t start with that. Start with something much smaller. Start with something like an intentional hour, a power hour – if you will. That’s a tremendous first step. Pick one hour a week and be intentional with how you spend it. There’s 168 hours in a week. Pick a single one of those hours and be intentional with it.

How you spend this hour is entirely up to you. The important part is that you choose. Make it anything you want, but generally try to stay within these two rules.

  1. Choose something slightly different from what you normally do
  2. Choose something that takes you in a direction you want to go

These criteria are important because if you choose to spend this hour doing something that you already do, it will lose its significance in your own mind. If you regularly wash your hands, it’s likely you don’t spend very much time reflecting on that as an intentional action. It’s just habit. But for someone in a developing country who’s never thought to wash their hands to improve their health, taking this action will likely feel foreign, new, and significant. Those are the feelings you’re going for.

Here are just a few suggestions that come to mind, but there are literally hundreds of options.

  • Paint a picture
  • Go for a run
  • Read a new book
  • Call an old friend
  • Play an instrument
  • Sing
  • Write a letter
  • Cook a creative meal
  • Take a long drive
  • Play a new board game with some friends
  • Meditate/spend time in prayer
  • Snap some photos
  • Encourage someone
  • Start a blog

Notice that I’ve chosen to leave a number of America’s favorite pastimes off the list. For me, watching Netflix, listening to music, and scrolling through Facebook don’t make the cut because they don’t evoke the feelings of newness and intentionality that I described above. In fact, they usually create just the opposite. This isn’t to say that those things are bad, but don’t choose to spend your single hour of intentionality doing something you already do. Now, if you’re someone who lives to work, barely has a chance to eat dinner, is constantly on the go, and has forgotten what it means to relax, then maybe an intentional hour of Netflix is great for you.

The point is to stir something inside of you and to be aware. When the hour is complete, you will feel different. You will feel different because you did something differently. And doing something differently is the first step to doing two things differently, and then three.

Intentional living, in its most basic form, is really about choosing how to spend your time, and anyone can do that.

So do it now. Pick an hour in the week. I don’t care when it is. Make it tonight, make it Wednesday at 8pm, or Saturday at 10am, or Thursday at 5am. There’s 168 options to choose from, so just pick one.

Got it? Good. Now choose how to spend it.

Great. Now write it down. Put it on a sticky note, or put it in your calendar, set an alarm, do whatever it takes to create space for you to spend that hour how you want to spend it.

If living an intentional life sounds too hard, then don’t start there. Start by living an intentional hour.  Trust me, it will be worth every second.

I’d love to know how you’re choosing to spend your power hour. Let me know in the comments below. Your comment could inspire someone else to live out their own power hour.