Tip 17: Define Your Intention First

by Annie

in Fall Into Productivity

Image of young child holding up large red maple leaf to face and text overlay reading "#17 - Define your intention first"

This is a post in Pajama Productivity’s first (hopefully) annual “Fall Into Productivity” month. (Clever wordplay, right? The llamas came up with that.) All month long in October 2016, we’ll be publishing lovely autumnal graphics with a fresh productivity tip each and every day. You can catch all the fall fun right here on the PJP blog, on our PJP Facebook page, or on Twitter @pjproductivity – use the #FallIntoProductivity hashtag to find all posts.

I didn’t exactly set out to “theme” this week’s #FallIntoProductivity tips, but it could be that there is one emerging, regardless — the theme of “Taking What’s Useful” from productivity books, systems, etc.

Today’s tip originates in a much-read classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Whereas Stephen Covey phrased it as “Begin with the end in mind,” I put it a bit differently: Define your intention first.

They both probably boil down to the same thing but I prefer “defined intentions” over “thinking about the end,” for a few reasons.

First, it acknowledges that despite our very best efforts, sometimes we aren’t wholly in charge of “the end.” The best we can do in those situations is keep in mind our intentions, and learn from the experience.

Secondly, “the end” presupposes that there is such a thing. I rather like the idea of keeping the long view front-of-mind, and in that regard, our work is never done, at least not until we’re done.

Finally, there’s this: I don’t know about you, but my intentions sometimes change in the middle of … whatever we’re talking about. I start off thinking I’m writing a short story, but it turns into a novel. Or I start off writing a thriller for adults, but it turns into a YA paranormal.

Or I intend to give a problematic venture another chance but mid-conversation, I realize it’s never going to work out.

We get more information, more feedback, or we become more attuned to our intuition. And sometimes that feedback changes things for us.

So whatever you’re about to start, take a minute before you begin and just formulate a sentence in your mind: “I intend to __________.” See if it helps you stay on track and “on mission.”

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