3 Questions Intentional People Ask Themselves Every Day

You’ve probably already heard the virtues of intentionality. Whether it be the importance of intentionality in the workplace, your workspace, or your personal life, we all sense our impact and sense of personal peace could be enhanced by engineering our life around the right things. But knowing where to start can be a daunting task. From mindfulness to meditation, navigating a path towards intentional productivity is one that takes practice and a bit of personal introspection. 

But what does it even mean to be more intentional? 

It wasn’t until I backed through my closed garage door with my car that I realized my work-life balance needed to change. 

Moving at a breakneck speed that’s far too common in the modern world,  I had become remarkably efficient, but my life was out of balance. I was focused, just on the wrong things. I  jumped from one project to the next, with little clarity as to how to prioritize what mattered most to me in my life. Discombobulated, exhausted, and depleted, I began looking to those who had already mastered intentionality for the steps necessary to sort out what matters most and what matters least. 

Intentionality at its root is about clarity and action, the most intentional people build a habit of reflection into their daily routines. They first get remarkably clear about what matters most, viewing all decisions through the lens of what will result in the greatest long-term positive impact.. The most intentional people are also the most productive people because none of their action is wasted – they measure twice and cut once, creating space for the important things by saying no to the non-essential. And this all begins with first reflecting and coming to greater awareness about what is truly most important in their business and personal lives (which are always intertwined). 

The most intentional people don’t get there overnight, intentionality is a practice that takes time. It’s an ongoing process of discernment where they take in new data each day to help better attune their inner compass and make incremental improvements. Through this reflection, they learn to integrate the lessons of the day so they can create a better tomorrow. 

Jump-starting your practice of intentionality need not come in the form of some dramatic month-long retreat. You can begin today with asking yourself these three simple questions. Through this daily habit, you’ll begin to institutionalize intentional thinking and increasingly carry this lens with you into every aspect of your personal and business life. 

Question 1: When was I at my best? 

Asking this question each day brings with it a twofold benefit. By recognizing our strengths, we can come to a deeper awareness of where exactly we thrive and can offer the most value to our business. From here we can optimize our time so that we increasingly focus on the areas where we can drive the most impact, and delegate or delete the rest. Asking this question also reminds us that we do in fact have particular gifts to offer, and this knowledge can give us the strength to tackle new challenges and drive take bolder action.

Question 2: When did I feel unrest? 

Every day we get feedback from life on what is working and what’s not. When we feel a sense of unrest, something inside us is telling us we may need to make an adjustment. As the leaders of our business, our own personal clarity and state of mind have a disproportionate impact on our business more than almost any other factor. It’s important to pay attention to the internal cues that may be signaling to us that something needs addressing. 

Question 3: One way I can improve tomorrow?

After coming to personal clarity around our daily experience of where things are working and where they are not, we can commit to making an adjustment. This final step of the process closes out the feedback loop and sets us on a virtuous cycle of daily growth and iteration. As the Afghan proverb goes, a river is made drop by drop. So it goes with building an intentional life, as each day we take one step further towards clarity and action around the most important things.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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