Former New York Yankee great Yogi Berra was once quoted as saying: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
About seven years ago I began a journey of living more intentionally in my spiritual relationship with God, as a person, as a husband, as a father and as a colleague in the workplace. I believe we can easily get lost going through the motions of life without any real sense or awareness of purpose. Just as challenging, we live in a time when distractions abound. The minutes can turn into hours on social media, digital recreation or other mindless adventures that can have a benefit in small doses and arguably a detriment in larger amounts.
A colleague I work with once told me that one of the first questions she asks students during a mentoring relationship is: “What legacy do you want to leave behind?” It is an idea of beginning with the end in mind.
I have begun to wonder what is important to me as I consider a legacy with the end in mind. And I know I have to evaluate where I spend my time, money, energy and focus to see if my words and actions align.
For me, my journey on living intentionally has meant spending my time, money, energy and focus in the following ways:
- Knowing my “why” – Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek has made a great case for companies and people identifying a “why,” which is your purpose in life based on your values, passions, beliefs, and the essence of who you are. I have recognized that my personal “why” is to be the best Christian I can be and to use the gifts that I have been given to both love God and love those people in my life. While I do not do this perfectly by any means and can always grow in this area, I want to give my best effort here every day.
- Focusing on the important and not the urgent – I am discovering the impact of focusing on the important, which requires determined use of our time in the things that truly matter (spiritual connections, relationships, health, and well-being to name a few). When we proactively invest in these areas that we say we value, we have the best chance to succeed and flourish in these realms. We address the urgent when we ignore these critical areas only to find relationships, health and well-being crumble and then have to scramble to try to salvage in some way. For example, when someone ignores their significant other in a relationship by not proactively investing important time in relationships sustainability, they may find themselves in urgent counseling hoping the partnership can be reclaimed.
- Being purposeful – I have come to see how easy it can be to hide behind time as the enemy. It is a common phrase in our culture to say: “I am sorry I did not text you back and set up a time for a coffee chat. I have not had the time.” Time does not control us. We have the power to determine what we say “yes” or “no” to each and every day. Granted, some circumstances and the flow of life may dictate that we have to do certain things for reasons we may not desire or prefer. But we often have more choice in our use of time that we may care to recognize or admit. It is something I do my best to keep in mind every time I grab my smartphone.
- Creating “no exception” rules – I believe it is critical to identify those things that I will commit to each day or week as a recognition of its value to me. Examples of “no exception” daily or weekly activities for me include Bible reading, spending time with my wife, my kids and my work colleagues, and exercising.
- Recognizing the ultimate life purpose – There is an abundance of research that speaks to the power and impact of living life for others and not for self. Sinek states: “The goal of our life is not to have our lives mean something for ourselves. The goal of our life is to have our lives mean something to others.” I want to fulfill this goal every day in as many ways as possible.
As I have been on this intentional living journey, I find my life to have more energy, excitement and fulfillment. Because it is so easy to wander off course, I have to make focused decisions every day to follow the steps outlined above. While not always easy, the outcome is definitely worth it.
What step towards intentional living might you consider today?
Adam Meyer is executive director of UCF’s Student Accessibility Services office and Inclusive Education Services. He can be reached at Adam.Meyer@ucf.edu.