Imagine for a moment that you’re the main character in one of your favorite epic movies. For me, that would mean Frodo from Lord of the Rings or Maximus from Gladiator. Now snap back to your life and compare the two.
Why is it that these movie characters are so appealing to us? They’re in grave danger constantly and have a lot of terrible things happen to them. And yet, I can’t help but sit in my seat and think, “Man, that would be exciting.”
Their heroic feats and wild adventures stand out as the main appeal. But there is something beneath that surface-level analysis, something that’s core to a good and fulfilling life, something that’s easy to overlook.
Intention is the main difference between James Bond and a couch potato. It’s not the only difference, obviously, as Bond is better at hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, but it is the primary difference. The nature of a couch potato lifestyle is passivity. The nature of James Bond is activity, which is driven by his intentions.
Passive Living Kills The Soul
I don’t say this as some guru on a mountaintop. I say this as someone who has experienced and seen this.
Passive living kills souls. If you live passively, it means you’re not trying to do anything.
That’s so… deflating.
Passive people exist for the sake of existing. They go through the motions and rely on the systems in place to survive. And that’s purposeless. That’s boring. That’s not fun. You can do it for a while and enjoy some of life’s pleasures, but sooner or later, you’re going to feel a tugging for something, and that tug is your innate desire for intentional living.
Regardless of your purpose on Earth—whether it’s to have fun, serve God, leave a legacy, explore the world, better others’ lives, or invent a new toilet seat—living to that purpose requires action which requires intention. If you don’t know your purpose yet, guess what you need… intention that leads to action. The good life begins with intention!
ATTN World: Intention Comes Before Action
People yap all the time about “taking massive action” and I find it incredibly annoying. There’s no strategy in those words. It’s empty motivational speak.
Not as many people talk about intention, which precedes action. It births action. Intention is action’s mom.
Intention matters most. If formed wisely, even a small intention can have a thunderous impact on your life. A mini habit is the intention to do something extremely small (like one push-up) every day. That small intention blows up over time into “massive action.” That exact small intention of one push-up got me in the best shape of my life because it helped me form a gym habit.
How to Form Intentions That Make a Difference
Powerful intentions are specific actions you plan to take. Vague intentions are, comparatively, very weak. It doesn’t mean anything if you “intend to lose weight this year.” That’s not an action you can take. It’s more effective for you to intend to eat one serving of broccoli every day or run on the treadmill for 15 minutes every day.
It’s satisfying to plan out your day and execute that plan because it gives you a feeling of purpose and achievement. And this feeling isn’t empty. This isn’t a trick to make you feel better. You feel better about your life when you live this way because it’s actually superior. Put simply, setting intentions means you’re attempting to live life how you want to live it.
It’s not a given that you’ll try to live the life you want to live. You have to work at it. You have to make plans (set intentions).
If you’d like to improve your intention-setting habits and abilities, I highly recommend that you try the new life management system I wrote about last week. I’m calling it the Mini Flex System, because it combines mini habits with flexible task management. The whole purpose of the task management portion is to start your day by marking your intention to do two tasks on your board. This has made a massive difference in my life already. Here’s the difference…
Before the Mini Flex System, I had put off upgrading my website for months. I wanted to do it “someday.” When I put it on my board, however, I was able to make my intention to do it that day absolutely clear. I made a small mark next to it, and spent the next 16 hours overhauling it with a new theme. Done. It took me less than 5 seconds to mark my intention on the board, and that 5 seconds was the difference between putting it off another day and having a brand new website. The power comes from no longer trying to manage intentions in your head and instead having them outside your head in a system you can trust (credit to David Allen for that concept).
I’m currently working on an explainer video for the Mini Flex system. I wanted to have it ready today, but I’m going to take a little more time to make it better.