“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”
~ Richie Norton
Just like our surroundings may kick in some subconscious automatic response, so too can facing a decision that shows up frequently.
Maybe it’s having coffee with a friend. Maybe it’s helping out a family member at the time that they ask it. Whatever it is, our responses are often automatic. We don’t even think about it.
It used to be that when someone would ask me to speak, the only thing I did was to check to see if I was available before saying yes. Sometimes that was the right decision. Sometimes it wasn’t. Now, thanks to my conversations around this with writer Karen Deger McChesney, I have a different approach.
What does a decision look like when it’s intentional? For me it looks very similar to how I am trying to approach my writing practice as described in last week’s post. Pause. Consider. Don’t get off track.
Here are some of the questions I now ask myself before responding to a request—whether it’s personal or professional:
Does it feel right?
That may sound woo-woo, but I’ve had enough negative results when I didn’t follow my intuition that I now listen to it—carefully. Am I getting a good vibe?
Am I the best person for this?
If it’s personal and the person really needs support, can I give it to them? If it’s just to catch up, then the question changes to “Is this the beet time?” If it’s professional, I ask if I’m the best person for this audience or could someone else serve them better?
Is this the best use of my time?
In personal situations, it often is. We get together, we share and we’re both uplifted by our connection. But if I’m feeling overwhelmed by my work load and distracted, neither one of us will benefit. So if I want to get together, I need to decide when I can do that and when we meet, I’m fully present. If I can’t be, I reschedule.
For professional engagements, I ask if all of it is truly the best use of my time. Each yes means (1) back and forth to confirm logistics, (2) preparation for my talk–even if I have something I can use, it always needs to be reworked for the audience, and of course, (3) the event itself. Saying yes to this means saying no to other things, including writing time so I consider carefully.
Does It Serve Me and Others?
This is the question I now ask for many things, including my social media presence. Is what I’m saying or doing helping me and others? Does it matter? If not, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. So I consider things more now. Discern. Then I act (or not). This takes more time, yes. But I’m present in it. I’m not going through the motions.
I feel more alive and it’s fantastic.