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Title: How can we be more Intentional in Life - Part 1
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How can we be more Inte ntional in Life Part 1  Article Written & Contributed by Nisha Chandran In a two-p...

How can we be more Intentional in Life

Part 1 

Article Written & Contributed by Nisha Chandran

In a two-part series, we explore the concept of Intentionality deeper and look at how focusing on a few important areas in Life can help us in becoming more Intentional.

In this article, the first in the two-part series, we explore why it is important to be Intentional and look at the importance of focusing on our unique strengths and also how being Methodical in Life can help us overcome Analysis Paralysis.

The concept of Intentionality is quite fascinating. The word ‘Intentional’ can be defined as performing an action deliberately, with meaning and purpose. The concept of Intentionality is not just limited to actions; it runs much deeper starting from one’s own attitude, thoughts and feelings, which eventually translates to action.

Quite often in our lives, we hear about the success stories of men & women who have made it big in Life…..stories of men and women who have accomplished the seemingly impossible goals. What differentiate these successful people from others are not just their unique talents; it is their ability to be Intentional about achieving goals. They were willing to make the right choices, necessary adjustments and eager to adopt the most productive habits. They also identified their natural talents and strengths, intentionally devoted their time, energy and other resources in building and enhancing their skills. Simply put, they had the Intention to Win.

The concept of Intentionality can be applied to every aspect in our lives. Be it personal development, achieving professional growth, improving health & fitness levels, improving the quality of relationships, achieving financial independence or enhancing spiritual wellness, all of it can be achieved with the right intents.

So, why is it especially important for women to be more Intentional?  Because women generally have more twists and turns to negotiate along the road to success in Life than men. Marriage, child birth, career breaks, elder care, health challenges and relocation with spouses are some of the derailers that will come in our way of achieving goals, especially career goals. Being Intentional about achieving our goals will help us manage these transitions and challenges in a better, smoother way. 
So, how can we become more intentional in Life? Here, we discuss about six concrete, practical steps that we can take to be more intentional in Life:

Step 1 - Intentionally work on developing your unique strengths:

Common logic tells us that we should work on our weaknesses to improve them. From our childhood, we are taught to focus on our areas of improvement and to systematically work on improving these weaknesses. This philosophy can certainly help us get results to a certain point. For eg, a child who is not good in Maths, can work on it to ensure that he/she gets decent marks to pass the exams. But you cannot expect him/her to become a mathematician. The inherent problem when we constantly keep working on our weaknesses is that our focus shifts mostly to our weaknesses, and we forget to focus on our natural abilities, strengths and talents. We tend to take on a certain kind of tunnel vision, seeing our lives as a checklist of things that needs to be fixed or improved.

But when we focus on the areas where we do have natural talent, and work to develop it, something truly magical happens. Truth is, there is something in this world that we can do better than others. Our natural variety in talent is what makes each one of us special. Our strengths are what sets us apart from competition. But our society keeps telling us that we can be anything that we want to be if we try hard enough. As American researcher and author Tom Rath says in his book Strengthsfinder 2.0, “this age old aspirational myth does more harm than good.  We are born with talents as unique as our DNA.  The more time we spend on building our talents and our strengths, the faster we will grow in our personal and professional lives. For every individual, the highest potential for growth lies in the areas where they have a natural talent to start with. If we channelize our energy in developing our strengths first, our weaknesses will have a tendency to take care of themselves”. Investing time in building our strengths and improving our knowledge levels will yield a much better return. In fact, Gallup’s research reveals that people who focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to have levels of overall satisfaction in Life.

Since we only have a limited amount of lifetime, it makes so much sense to dedicate time and energy on polishing our gifts to perfection, i.e maximizing our potential by fully developing our strengths and natural abilities.

Step 2 - Intentionally overcome Analysis Paralysis by being Methodical:

Analysis Paralysis is actually the state of over thinking before taking a decision. It happens to all of us when we over analyze situations; when we become overwhelmed by choices; when we get bogged down by too many details; when we do too much research because of a compulsion to take the perfect decision, and/or postpone a decision because of the fear of taking wrong decisions. All this leads to a state of paralyzed inaction. All of us struggle with this at some point in our lives.

Most of us are good at taking major life decisions clearly and precisely after much deliberation and consultation with our family & friends, whether it is choosing which college to study, or whom to get married to or which house or car to buy. But when it comes to making simple, daily decisions, we find it hard and tricky.  Take for example the daily dilemma of a working woman when it comes to deciding what to cook for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or for that matter, shopping for a dress for an important family wedding or office party, or buying a new smart phone, or choosing which dress to wear to office on a busy Monday morning. This indecisiveness is huge time and energy drainer. What should have been a simple decision making process, becomes a complicated mess that leads to a lot of frustration and panic, especially when we are short pressed for time. This is probably the simplest form of analysis paralysis.

While some of us feel that taking simple decisions after a lot of deliberation is equal to being cautious and sensible, the reality is, it prevents us from being highly productive. Making simple decisions quickly in a short span of time and doing it cheerfully can increase our productivity and happiness levels. So here are a few tips that will assist in taking better & quicker decisions:

o      Be methodical. Establish processes at home and at work so that a lot of simple and recurring tasks run on auto pilot mode. When it comes to simple daily decisions, planning well in advance will save a lot of time and energy. Planning a weekly/monthly menu, maintaining a standard monthly grocery shopping list in excel sheet, deciding in advance what to wear the next day to work & keeping it ready, are all small things that will simplify the daily decision process and make life easy and less complicated. Being methodical will also help us in overcoming laziness & procrastination

o   Fix deadlines. For any decision that is not life-altering, give only enough time and effort it deserves. Set aside deadlines to arrive at decisions based on the level of importance and stick to it. Consult a family member or friend if required. But avoid mulling over it too much and dragging the decision for too long. 

Every choice we come across in Life will have pros cons. It is not practical to be perfect and always make perfect choices. But making moderately ok choices that result in timely action is the key to high productivity. And for those of us who believe in perfection, this famous quote says it all, “Perfection means not perfect actions in a perfect world, but appropriate actions in an imperfect one”.

Thanks to Ms. Nisha Chandran
Team Readers Mirror
To be continued....

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