i have good intentions…honestly!
How many times have I chosen to be content with having the self-awareness to at least know what I should do? After all, I’m a “good guy”. However, good intentions don’t get us very far and I don’t want to be satisfied with just knowing what I ought to do…I want follow-through.
But follow-through is like a muscle that needs to be exercised and worked. It’s something I’m working to change but have noticed a few obstacles along the way that I’ll share below.
Maybe they’ll resonate with you or maybe you experience different obstacles. Either way, my hope is simply to spark some thinking that leads to action.
(BTW: When I speak of good intentions, I’m speaking of those things we think about doing but never get around to doing them.)
SIX obstacles to navigate
1. Our intention never leaves our mind
What we think about doing often doesn’t see the light of day because it doesn’t leave the ‘safety’ of our mind. When this happens our intent has no room to breathe because we don’t articulate, verbalize or write out them out.
Intent needs to expressed and planted if it’s going to grow. When we put words to our intentions we begin to paint for ourselves a clearer picture of what we want. As the picture gains some clarity, it helps us to see what can be tangibly done to move forward (all we need is the first step). In addition, we will be faced with how keen we really are about going in that direction.
Have you ever had someone share a thought, feeling, perspective and it gets cut off with a phrase like this: “Well you know what I mean.” Perhaps you’ve said this yourself. I’m pretty sure I have. Similar to those intentions we have, it’s a sign that we need to spend more time putting some verbiage to our thoughts because articulating them will develop a narrowed focus on our goal.
2. We want to see too many results in a short time
We can tend to get on the goals bandwagon, dreaming of all that we want to do and expect to accomplish them right away. This can happen with goals such as bettering your health, cleaning out the garage, or learning a new skill. But goals, such as health, require several changes including our mindset around such food and exercise.
Then there’s the tangible changes that need to happen. Adjusting eating habits, creating a daily routine to fit in exercise, setting money aside for a gym membership or new shoes. There are factors that need to be juggled in order to keep moving forward. And if we add another goal, like saving an extra $5,000 for a holiday or spending more one on one time with each of your kids, we’ll see there is another group of smaller changes that will need to happen.
When we try and tackle all of it, we run the risk of getting discouraged and not following through on any of them as we had originally hoped. So choose one goal, and start with one step in that goal…create momentum that will help you continue towards the next step and eventually to that next goal.
3. We don’t invite healthy accountability
If good intentions are really good – then it’s worth doing what is necessary to see that ‘good’ happen and inviting someone into your process can make a big difference. Even if that person is just ‘checking in’ on you, it increases your chance of following through. But it’s doesn’t stop with a ‘check-in’. This person can help you to evaluate, learn and adjust your way to success.
This also helps us to flush out our good intentions with someone else because we need the collaboration, feedback and the wisdom of friends to help us know if we’re headed in the right direction. If we’re only relying on ourselves to discern our intentions, we will find ourselves lacking the awareness and wisdom that others have to offer.
A few things to look for in an accountability partner are some who:
- is further along in the journey of where you’re going (doesn’t necessarily mean older)
- draws the best out of you (encouraging)
- doesn’t just want to give advice, but can draw out answers from you (advice is easy to give and some are too eager to do so)
- will be curious beyond simply asking about your progress, but will help you evaluate, learn and adjust
- clearly knows what it is you expect from them (meaning you need to let them know what you’re looking for)
4. We haven’t come to terms with the fact that setbacks are a natural part of progress
Like comedian Michael Jr. says, your setbacks are actually your setups. This concept isn’t new, yet it continues to be an obstacle that keeps us stuck in our good intentions. When following through with our intentions, we must approach them as a learner. We need to expect that everything may not go as we planned. Even if that setback is because of our own doing…remember we’re developing new habits that are just that – ‘new’.
I remember when we brought our first daughter home from the hospital…I couldn’t believe they would allow my wife and I to take this tiny human being home and simply figure things out as we went. But that’s what we do, we learn and get better as we go along.
Just like we do with an accountability partner, we evaluate, we learn and we adjust – and then we repeat. And when this learning attitude is combined with a good accountability partner, we will be more receptive to the encouragement they bring to the process. This may also take some of the sting out of ‘setbacks’, normalizing them as a natural part of growing.
5. We forget why it’s important to act on our good intentions
It’s easy to think that we’re the only ones who ‘miss out’ when we do not act on our intentions. Yet, if there’s something ‘good’ that we intend to do, there’s a ‘good’ outcome on the other end that will not be just to our benefit but will have a positive impact on others.
Our own growth from good intentions will naturally result in adding value to others. Being healthier, eating supper as family each night, working hard to get that promotion, or taking that class is not just about us. Those decisions impact our families and friends in a variety of ways and will be felt over a long span of time.
Imagine for a moment the impact on the child of the parent who chose to consistently seek counselling and get some healing about an issue that caused them to close off from their family.
Imagine the impact on a company when the manager continually invests in their ability to lead and relate to their team.
Remember that others also lose out when good intentions remain stuck in our minds. Let’s focus beyond ourselves and towards what we can contribute to those in our spheres of influence. Believing that we have something to contribute can help fuel the motivation we need for follow-through.
6. Routine wins us over too often
Good intentions often fall victim to the routines of life. Naturally, we usually want to travel the path of least resistance. Though not always a bad thing, it can interrupt our action towards some really good things that we want to see happen. But that will require time, effort and change…all which will cause us to move upstream.
Start with creating the necessary time needed to move forward. Put it in your calendar and talk to your family about it because any change in you, will impact them in some way. Though they might be excited about the goal you intend to reach, the path forward may require changes in their routine as well.
Not all goals will have equal impact. However, goals such as saving an extra few thousand dollars in a year might mean eating out less as a family.
The key is to involve them by communicating what they can expect and even to involve them in the process of accomplishing the goal (if applicable). When your family can contribute to the process they’ll have greater buy-in to what’s happening. Lastly, remind them regularly why it’s important and attach value to the change.
Because good intentions don’t get us very far, our routines will need an interruption and we’ll experience some turbulence along the way. But it’s worth it!
So to review, here are a few helpful steps to move from good intentions to good action:
- put language to your good intentions
- choose one goal, and then one step to start with (build up your momentum)
- invite some accountability & feedback
- approach the action you take with a learner mindset and remember setbacks offer us valuable lessons
- remember your good intentions will also be good for others
- create time in your calendar and involve those around you in the process
Realize Your Potential
In life, we assume far too often.
We assume good intentions are enough. We assume we know what we really want. We assume personal growth will just happen. We assume God will make it happen.
If you’re done with ‘assuming’, you are a great candidate for coaching.
Together, we’ll focus on YOU…with your personal growth as the objective!