The Payoff Principle: A Lifetime of Payoffs

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Imagine yourself creating a lifetime of payoffs: happiness, success, significance – a life of abundance, both personally and professionally. We all want it! We all want to become producers. We all want to be that person who makes things happen by design rather than default.

In this column, I’ve spent the past month exploring the components of Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s formula The Payoff Principle (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff) and the mindset change needed to move from “good enough” to extraordinary. As a refresher, The Payoff Principle works like this: “When you find purpose in what you do, exhibit passion for the outcome, and master the process to make it happen, you produce the payoffs you want, need and deserve.” You become a producer.

American psychiatrist Scott Peck said in The Road Less Traveled, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t do anything with it.” The key to getting the formula to work for you and getting what you really want is valuing yourself and your time. Then you must do something with it by taking action.

Taking action means integrating all three components into your life. No half-efforts will work. Your level of success will be determined by your level of effort. Why? Think of someone you know (it might be you) who works really hard, puts in long hours, but has no purpose in his life. A person with no clearly defined purpose is usually unsatisfied, unfulfilled and meanders thru life, putting in time versus valuing time.

What about a person with great vision and dreams but little enduring passion. Without the attitude, perseverance, and character required of the fire of passion, the flame burns out and she will quit before she can experience the payoffs she seeks.

Finally, what about the person who is intentional and has the drive but lacks process, the tools that turn intention and drive into reality? Without process results don’t come because we are not learning, communicating and listening. We’re always chasing the next great idea. Think of it as the “grass is greener” mindset. That mentality has us neglect watering our own garden. Ultimately this leads to regret and “if only I had…” in our professional and personal lives. What can you learn and do to fill your toolbox of process?

You now see the importance of integrating all three components to unlock the power of The Payoff Principle and that leads to likely the most important question. When do I implement this into my life? The answer is now! Now means now, not “as soon as I….” or “after I am finished with this project….” or “when I start my new job….”

In my executive coaching work, I have found that people who take the “as soon as I…” approach are always waiting on someone or something else to happen to get started on their goals. They are waiting for something outside of them to happen so they can begin to take action. They are creating excuses and living life by default. I’ve done it. We all have. The result is always the same—unfulfilled and unsatisfied lives; years of not achieving our desires and dreams. We owe it to ourselves to put ourselves on a path to a new and complete self—in our careers, communities and homes.

The Payoff Principle provides a formula that guides your progress to success and achieving your dreams and desires. There is never a perfect time to make changes in our lives. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” The first step here is that progress, not perfection is what is required to change your mindset and move from “good enough” to extraordinary – to being a producer reaping a lifetime of payoffs.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: On Process

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

mark-516277_640In previous articles – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted!, The Payoff Principle: On Purpose, and The Payoff Principle: On Passion, I’ve looked at the power of purpose (the direction you take your life) and the power of passion (the fire that ignites purpose). The power of process is the final component of the payoff principle as defined by Dr. Alan Zimmerman in his book The Payoff Principle. As you may recall, his formula is Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff. Simply put, it is the series of actions you employ with your skills to achieve your desired payoffs.

How many times have you heard “trust the process, the results will come?” That sounds great, but what if you don’t know what process to trust? There are thousands of books and guides on various processes but there is no single book on process that will enable you to tackle every challenge you will encounter.

Peter Drucker said, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast with change and the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” In The Payoff Principle, Dr. Zimmerman identifies four critical processes behind every success story and explains how implementing these steps can more effectively transform purpose and passion into reality. The good news is that these four processes (two self-focused and two other-focused) can be learned and practiced by anyone. Let’s run through them:

1) Affirming Achievement- How do you think about your life? The process of affirming achievement involves changing how you think about yourself. It is the process of moving from “I can’t…,” “I never…,” “I’m not smart or good enough…,” “I shouldn’t…” by resetting your thinking to “I am good enough…,” “I am smart enough…,” “I can do…” These affirmations determine your mindset and how you show up every day. You change your life and direction when you change your mind and focus. Clearly thought out and written down affirmations give you focus towards the payoff you desire.

2) Continuing Education- Are you open to learning and change? Are you intellectually curious, always searching for more? The process of continuing education acknowledges that you are always learning. The portrait of your best self is never complete. Dale Carnegie said, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” I like to think of the process of learning as a reminder that what got you to where you are in your profession or career won’t keep you there. There is always something we can do to improve ourselves and we cannot settle for “good enough.”

3) Connective Communication- Does communication breakdown drive you insane? The failure to communicate is a core issue across organizations, teams and relationships. The process of connective communication according to Dr. Zimmerman involves avoiding “communication breakups” or things that push people away from you emotionally and send a message of that you don’t trust, respect or care about them. We need to replace those with “communication makeups.” The message of a “communication makeup” is “you count, you matter, you are worthy of my time, energy and attention.” Clear, open, honest communication is far more efficient than the destructive and time consuming results of a failure to communicate.

4) Compassionate Listening- Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Studies have shown this especially true the higher someone rises in an organization because they feel less “forced” to listen to others. Of course, this is the time when they need to listen more and more compassionately. The process of compassionate listening only begins with the listener listening with intent to reply. Listening then evolves to listening to every word and nuance of the conversation and even further to listening at a level where you are aware of the mood, conscious, tone and impact of the conversation. It means actively listening at a deeper level and understanding by clarifying facts and feelings with powerful questions. American columnist Doug Larson summed it up, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening, when you would have preferred to talk.” I have seen my business and relationships improve with this approach. Perfecting the art of compassionate listening can provide you maximum payoffs.

The power of process is behind every success story and is a series of steps that you can implement into your daily life. Combined with the direction of purpose and the fire of passion, the power of process turns dreams into reality and helps you achieve the payoffs you desire.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: On Passion

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.  Don’t miss previous parts of this series – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted! and The Payoff Principle: On Purpose

6cb3e4a59d720b063bc775b1948004a7Once you’ve decided to live a life of purpose and on purpose, you need the power of passion to ignite that purpose. What is passion? The Urban Dictionary says “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.”

In Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s book, The Payoff Principle, the power of passion (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff) is the ingredient necessary to excite you so that you are motivated to achieve the goals and dreams you desire. You must have the power of passion working for you. In fact, Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel said “Without passion, man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.”

Think of passion as your inner fire! Passion is the energy that pushes marathon runners over the finish line, that keeps developers up all night developing a new app, writers looking for the next word, and Doctors Without Borders persevering when tasks are unpleasant around the world. Having a healthy abundant passion is a key. Without it you’ll run out of energy long before your actions yield the desired result.

Zig Ziglar said, “When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.” Stop searching for passion in some external explanation or proof, and promise yourself that you will choose to work on what fires you up inside. Once you make that choice, passion is born.

After passion born, however, how do you keep the fire going? Dr. Zimmerman explores three components needed for the fire to burn and produce ignited passion.

1. Attitude – A fire needs something to burn and attitude represents the fuel in the fire of passion. Your attitude—your positive attitude—is the fuel needed to ignite the fire. Without an “I can” attitude, the fire dies and the passion goes away. How does your attitude show up in your life on a daily basis? You are in charge of your attitude and how it serves you in every aspect of your life.

2. Persistence – To keep a fire burning, oxygen is needed, and persistence is the oxygen in the fire of passion. Persistence is absolutely necessary to get the payoffs you desire. Vince Lombardi noted, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” Persistence is the tenacity to keep going, to preserve in the face of obstacles and accomplish your dreams and desires, achieving the life you envisioned. Have you developed persistence to overcome resistance? Do you go the extra mile in all you do?

3. Character – All fires need to be contained and this is true with the fire of passion. Without a fire ring of character to contain and guide the fire, the fire can burn out of control, and relationships, reputations, and lives can be damaged. This is the tug-of-war in many corporate cultures between sales and compliance. Benjamin Franklin said, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” Do you have a fire ring holding the reins of your passion? Are you staying between the lines and acting out of character in your business and personal life? Have you put in place guardrails that guide your words and deeds? You have to be absolutely clear about your values and what you stand for. The content and expression of your character is your choice. Choose wisely and it becomes easy to do the right thing, which in turn delivers the payoff of trust and respect.

The power of purpose begins the journey and provides direction to the payoff of becoming a producer. The power of passion ignites the fire behind the payoff. Next, we will explore the power of process, the final of component that turns your vision and drive into reality.

What will you do today to make this happen?

Creating Powerful Life Transitions

Contributed by Debby Stone.

14440757471_4538ba9065_o (1)Graduation season is drawing to a close. This year, I attended two graduations and know several more students who are moving on from high school or college. Perhaps you, too, have attended one or more graduations this year. And, even if you haven’t attended one this season, I am sure that the memory of caps and gowns – yours or someone else’s – is an easy one for you to bring to mind.

I have always thought of graduation as an ending. The graduate is leaving his particular school, finishing a degree and receiving a diploma that indicates completion. However, as I have reflected on the process, I realize that graduation is also a new beginning. There is a reason that the accompanying ceremony is called commencement. The commencement ceremony marks the beginning of the next chapter in the life of the graduate. It is a celebration of his accomplishments to date and of the promise that lies ahead.

I find it powerful that we mark completion of schoolwork with a ceremony. When a student finishes high school, college or graduate school, she doesn’t simply move on to the next step – more school or a job. Rather, we gather around her to help her look back over her accomplishments, celebrate, and plan for what lies ahead.

It’s a shame that we don’t do more of this in our everyday lives. Think about how quickly we move from one task to the next, from one job to another, from our current city to a different location. We don’t mark the shift with a ceremony, and we don’t typically even stop long enough to reflect on what we are leaving behind and what lies ahead. What would be different if we did?

Imagine if we paused long enough to look back at a job we are leaving so we could appreciate what we learned during our tenure with that organization. Imagine if we stopped to reflect on the memories we have amassed while living in a particular place. What if we paused after completing a task or reaching a goal and reflected on what we have accomplished and what it took to accomplish it.

I often work with clients who are in transition. During our time together they may leave one job and begin another, reach a long held goal, or move to a new home or city. When my clients leave a job, I always advise taking some time off before starting their new one to engage in just the sort of graduation and commencement we are discussing. And, although not everyone takes that advice, those who do find that by consciously graduating from their previous role and equally consciously commencing their new role, they are able to be more fully engaged in what lies ahead, find more focus in their new role and consciously integrate the learnings from their previous job.

On the flip side, those who do not take a break, those who do not create the space for conscious graduation and commencement, often find that they regret not having punctuated their transition with some sort of ritual, ceremony and pause. For example, one woman I know left her job with a company she had been with for 25 years. Her last day there was on a Friday and she started her new job on the following Monday morning. She did not give herself time to pause and reflect, and as a result, she did not have an opportunity to celebrate her time with the company that had played such a pivotal role in her life and career for a quarter of a century. Today, if you asked her, she would say that not marking that transition is one of her biggest regrets.

There is much to be gained from creating a ritual to accompany a move or shift from one chapter in your life to another. Just as school graduations allow for reflection, celebration and visioning, the commencement ceremonies we could create would do the same. Our transitions would become powerful tools for learning and growth.

How have you marked the big shifts in your life – a goal reached, a new job, a big move? What graduation and commencement ceremonies have worked well for you? What did consciously marking the transition provide?

The Payoff Principle: On Purpose

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.  Don’t miss part one of this series – The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted!

welcome-new-employees-233x233The book, The Payoff Principle by Dr. Alan Zimmerman, begins with the power of purpose (Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff). Having a clear purpose, a ‘why’, is the starting point in figuring out how to design your life, bring out your best, and achieve the goals that excite you. German philosopher, Frederick Nietzche, had this in mind when he said, “He who has a why can endure any how.”

Only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to move forward, stay motivated, persevere when obstacles arise, and move your life to a new, more challenging, more rewarding trajectory. A clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, moving from ordinary to extraordinary. Research has shown that having the power of purpose results in better health, motivation and satisfaction. The question that always arises is this: How do I discover, define and clarify my purpose?

A great place to start is to establish the mindset of ‘A life of purpose is a life lived on purpose.’ Living on purpose requires intentionality, direction and discipline. In The Payoff Principle, Dr. Zimmerman challenges people to ask themselves, “What do I really, REALLY want from my life,” as the basis of discovering their purpose. He goes on to build a three-legged stool of discovering your purpose with these three primary questions:

1. What are you good at? Natural ability, dominant gifts, positive responses to your work, satisfaction and ease are components to consider. If it doesn’t feel like work, if it motivates you, and if it stirs perseverance and satisfaction, you are on the right path!

2. What excites you? What do you dream about doing every day? What stirs passion inside of you? What do you love to spend time doing? What motivates you and drives your optimal productivity? What makes you emotionally satisfied? Your answers build a leg in the stool that will impact every area of your life and those around you.

3. What difference do you want to make? How do you want to influence the world around you? Making a difference requires focus in at least one aspect your life of work, family, community to move from success to significance. The great thing is you choose and can start living your purpose today.

Combining the answers to all three primary questions is necessary to discovering, defining and clarifying your purpose. Once you have found your purpose, living on purpose is critical to achieve the payoffs you want and deserve. Living on purpose means living intentionally, with direction. It means listening to wise counsel and not only those that tell you what you want to hear. It means pausing and reflecting on your actions and decisions and how those actions and decisions affect your sphere of influence. It means engaging in purposeful activities every day to demonstrate your commitment—first to yourself and then to those you interact with.

If you’ve now decided to live an extraordinary life, a purpose-filled life, then it’s time to take the next step described in The Payoff Principle. That is where the power of passion, the fuel in your engine of purpose, comes in to living on purpose, with intention and direction in all you do.

What will you do today to make this happen?

The Payoff Principle: Producers Wanted!

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

welcome-new-employees-233x233Producers Wanted! How many times have we seen this on signs, in print, or other media? Companies are always searching for people that produce; people that make things happen. Are you a producer? If not, you may want to ask yourself how you can become one.

Becoming a producer is an important skill to learn. Vietnamese Clergyman Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” If we are to live our lives by design rather than default, we need to position ourselves to become producers; to become someone who makes things happen.

How do you become a producer? Are there steps? A guidebook? Is it easy? The answer is yes and no. There is a process, but one that takes time, energy and attention (TEA) to accomplish. If you work through the process, you benefit both professionally and personally.

I recently spoke with Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and author of several books focusing on attitude, communication, and leadership. We talked about his newly released book, The Payoff Principle, that tackles’ the question of becoming a producer. In fact, he explores the development and building of producers through a formula he calls The Payoff Principle.

To quote The Payoff Principle, it works like this: “When you find purpose in what you do, exhibit passion for the outcome, and master the process to make it happen, you produce the payoffs you want, need and deserve.” You become a producer!

Think of your results in each of these areas (purpose, passion and process) as you look to attain success and happiness in your career and personal life. Do you have a purpose – a why statement? How do you articulate your purpose to others? Do you exhibit passion and fire for the outcomes you desire? How does this passion show up in your interactions with colleagues, friends and family? Have you mastered the processes of making things happen (continuing education, effective communication, compassionate listening) that can turn your desired payoffs into reality?

In his 30 years of research, Alan Zimmerman discovered that a combination of these three areas is necessary to achieve all you desire. In fact, leaving out even one of the three components of the formula usually leads to falling short of our desired goals. As you consider and answer these questions you are likely thinking that they are hard, that it’s not worth bothering with them or that you can always focus on them later when you have more time. Facing the future with anticipation vs. apprehension, taking responsibility and acting are the keys to success. If you want to create the future you desire, the time to start is now!

Over the next several weeks I am going to dig into the components of The Payoff Principle and demonstrate why and how this simple formula when applied to, integrated within, and acted upon in our lives can give us the payoffs we desire. Join me on this journey and be prepared to ask yourself the powerful questions needed to explore how you think, act, respond in your quest to turn your desires into reality. When you do, the next time you see Producers Wanted! you will know that you are a producer both professionally and personally.

What will you do today to make this happen?

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TIME: Energy and Your Success Roadmap

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

Time for SuccessOver the past month we have explored success via legs of the table of TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy) and the change in mindset required to move from “I need more time” to “TIME is on my side.” Energy is the catalyst that builds and the glue that holds the table together.

Be sure to read all of the parts that make up TIME:
Success: It’s About TIME!
TIME (Part 2): First, It’s About Tenacity
TIME (Part 3): Intentionality, with Direction
TIME (Part 4): Your Message

What kind of energy do you bring to your life, to the things that are important to you, and to those around you? Your answer to this question, and the enthusiasm and passion with which you express it, is the energy that forms the final leg of the table of TIME. You need to bring energy, and the right kind of energy, to your desired goals, priorities and relationships to make them a reality. Merely showing up, going through the motions, or working more is never the answer. In fact, this method often saps the very energy one needs to achieve success. Let’s look at Energy in more depth.

In their book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz proclaim that most of us are chasing the wrong resource: hours in the day. Instead, we should focus on something entirely different: our energy.

According to Loehr and Schwartz, our energy can be broken down into 4 different elements:

• Your physical energy – how healthy are you?

• Your emotional energy – how happy are you?

• Your mental energy – how well can you focus on something?

• Your spiritual energy – why are you doing all of this? What is your purpose?

The order in which these four energy types appear is not random. Loehr and Schwartz give them this specific order to guide us through developing our energies in the right way.

Your physical energy – how healthy are you?

Your physical energy naturally serves as the base. It is going to be very tough to build out your other energies without taking care of your body first. Generally, however, physical energy is the most discounted element in our day-to-day lives. What are you doing to build and sustain your physical energy?

Your emotional energy- how happy are you?

Emotional energy is an aliveness of the mind, a happiness of the heart, and a spirit filled with hope. Emotional energy has a specific feel. It’s a sense of being up, happy, forward-looking, resilient, optimistic, and in touch with the creative, generous, hopeful self. Emotional energy means you can ride out any storm. Emotional energy is what we need to keep going happily and hopefully through all the difficulties and opportunities life has to offer. Is this a description you would want for yourself? What would it take to make this a reality?

Your mental energy- how well can you focus on something?

Mental energy is our ability to focus. Sir Julian Huxley defines mental energy as “the driving force of psyche, emotional as well as intellectual.” In fact, numerous studies over the past 25 years have found mental effort/energy can be measured in terms of increased metabolism. The issue today with mental energy is that everyone views multitasking as a necessity in light of all the demands they face, but multitasking actually undermines productivity. Uninterrupted focus for 60-90 minutes, taking a break, then starting the next task is shown to be far more productive. Creating rituals or processes to reduce interruptions and enable concentration is the key to focus and mental energy. Are you creating rituals or processes that focus your mental energy?

Your spiritual energy- Why are you doing all of this? What is your purpose?

Spiritual energy is the clear, clean, loving, energy that allows things to exist and thrive. Loehr and Schwartz say “it is the most powerful source of our motivation, perseverance and direction – the connection to a deeply held set of values and a purpose beyond our self-interest.” Spiritual energy is sustained by balancing a commitment to others with commitment to self.

We now know the elements of energy and the role they play in our lives. It’s having fuel in your tank for doing what you have to do and what you want to do. It’s being able to go the extra mile. It’s having a lot to give. It’s not feeling like you have to push yourself.

Success is about TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy)! It is about defining a compelling vision, understanding how each piece can act as a catalyst or derailer in a successful career, and implementing a plan of action. Each leg of the table of TIME contributes to the foundation that allows you to move you or your organization to “TIME is on my side.” Yes, it is!

What will you do today to make this happen?

TIME (Part 4): Your Message

Time for SuccessContributed by Dan Sheedy.

In this series, as we move toward getting TIME on our side, we have explored two components: tenacity and intentionality… The question is how do we put these first two components into practice? This is where message comes in. Message is the third leg on the table of TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy).

Be sure to read Success: It’s About TIME!TIME (Part 2): First, It’s About Tenacity, and TIME (Part 3): Intentionality, with Direction.

Sharing a vision, a message, is a central role of a leader. A vision gives people a bigger picture of what things can be like. It helps people raise their hopes and expectations; it inspires them. When people are inspired, they are more likely to work on something or for something.

Your message and the way you communicate it has a big impact on your ability to get along with people and achieve your goals. Good communication skills can help you avoid conflict, clarify mixed messages and solve problems that are part of every-day life. This is true not only on a personal level but on a corporate level. Between the grand visions of a board presentation and the day-to-day activities of the average employee, a gaping hole often exists. Often a gap exists between the practical translation of what a company’s message should be versus what it is.

How do we narrow the gap? Jan Phillips of the Syracuse Cultural Workers expressed a powerful perspective on this when she said, “No matter what our attempts to inform, it is our ability to inspire that will turn the tides.” The solution is as simple as keeping the message informative and inspirational. A meaningful message must be specific and have impact.

Think of the message you want to communicate in any situation at your workplace or in society. Consider the stories of hundreds of leaders in business (for example, Steve Jobs), government (for example, Lech Walesa) and civil rights (for example, Dr. Martin Luther King) and how they used a simple message to inform and inspire. Can you see the power in communicating your vision and your message to others? No one can decide to follow you until they know what direction you’re headed in, but if your message is one that touches a chord with many people, and if you can communicate it well; people will join you in reaching toward your goals.

How often do you need to communicate your message or your vision? Constantly!

Whenever you talk to people about your project, group or organization, tell people what you are working towards. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, and the more people will be willing to support you. As you lead, you should be communicating your vision all the time. People look to leaders to inspire them and keep them on the right track. The more you are enthusiastic and clear about where you are going, the more likely it is that people will follow your lead. Don’t underestimate the power of your ideas and words. Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You, as much as anyone, have what it takes to lead others and to help them envision a better organization, community, and world.

Once you have made the decision to intentionally share your vision and your message, if you pursue it with tenacity, you will have completed another leg in moving from “I need more time” to “TIME is on my side.”

What will you do today to make this happen?

TIME (Part 3): Intentionality, with Direction

Time for SuccessContributed by Dan Sheedy.

As we change our mindsets in traveling down the road to success, we constantly seek guidance, indications and assurances about our paths, our choices, and our decisions in the desire to have TIME on our side. Intentionality is the next leg in the table of TIME (Tenacity, Intentionality, Message, and Energy).

Be sure to read Success: It’s About TIME! and TIME (Part 2): First, It’s About Tenacity

Intentionality is a mindset that requires us to act, to do something deliberate, willful, and purposeful. Being intentional means making choices and taking actions based on our greatest values and purpose (the magnet). It involves taking responsibility and freeing ourselves from self-limiting conditioning; the habits and actions of others. Intentionality is so much more than trying hard and we need to understand why.

Many of us go through our days awake but following patterns we’ve developed over the years. We are going through the motions, doing things at home, online, and at work without much forethought. Contrast this with the idea of being intentional: everything you do is done with purpose, fulfilling one of your core values (for example, respect). Imagine everything you do is done with a purposeful intent. This sounds easy to do, but is having good intentions good enough? Nelson Mandela said, “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”

It is this intersection of intention, vision and action that creates the picture of where we want to end up in life and the path we choose to get there. Andy Stanley says in his book The Principal of the Path, “Direction, not intention determines your destination.” We can “intend” to do all sorts of things, but until we point ourselves in the right direction and start taking action, we won’t ever get to our destination or reach our goals. What we can conclude, however, is that having good intentions alone is never good enough and is only part of what it means to be intentional.

There is a simple but effective practice for intentionality. Before you take your next action or make that next decision, take a moment and state your intention aloud. Why are you making this decision or taking this action? Is it for you or others? Is it out of competition, compassion, desperation, want, need? Is it going to motivate others or make someone happier?

After you do this, make the decision, take the action and be mindful of your intention. The process of learning is continuously evolving. Even when we are stuck in old mindsets and habits, life has a way of showing us something new. The great thing is we don’t have to sit still and wait for things to happen to us, we can instead choose with intentionality to broaden our own thinking and experiences with a direction in mind and a plan for accomplishing it. With this step you have one more piece in moving from “I need more time” to “TIME is on my side.”

What will you do today to make this happen?