Unfortunately, in our 24/7 not-enough-time world, we could soooo benefit from being more intentional about our most important people interactions, meetings, work blocks, and whatever else pops into your mind with this opening.

My experience is that becoming more intentional is not about taking more time (that we don’t have). Rather, it’s about stopping ourselves, getting off of our moving walkway for even five minutes, to think in advance of a key event. It’s about paying attention to where we may just be barreling ahead.

Of course, we always get our PowerPoint decks complete for the meeting. But, most often we don’t get ourselves ready to most effective.

Three Steps To Creating a Clear Intention

I am not saying that creating an intention is easy, it just doesn’t have to take so much time. Here are the three steps I use:

  1. What is the outcome(s) you want?  Hard results and soft results. Try to see the movie playing in your mind with each key aspect to what you most want to happen.
  2. Why do you want it? Don’t worry about being selfish. Do you want to get a result that is in your objectives for the year? Do you see this meeting as a key milestone for a future goal? Will bad things happen if you don’t get your desired outcome? Do you have a personal commitment to some aspect?
  3. How do you need to THINK, FEEL, DO? The first two are your internal experience which we rarely intend ahead of time. The third is the action, all too often our default mode.

Just to be clear, you can use this model for work and for home. Have a cranky teenager in the house? Have your mother coming to visit? These are two of many personal situations for which you can get much more intentional.

A Team Meeting Example

A key project team meets regularly, has clear goals, and truly shares accountability for those goals. Their team meetings tend to extend beyond the time allotted with some agenda items holding the team hostage and others getting no time at all. Decisions tend to extend over weeks and sometimes months. The team leader is an expert and tries to allow everyone to be heard before decisions are made. What can s/he do to more intentional about the next meeting?

  1. What outcomes? A decision that has all team members’ input fully heard, with full agreement from Jack, Sarah, and John. As the team leader, I would agree with and confirm the decision. Stakeholder needs and interests would be vetted, understood by all, and included as part of the decision process.
  2. Why? The team’s and the leader’s time is too precious to waste and the project’s timeline and staff capacity will be jeopardized by slow decision making.
  3. How to THINK, FEEL, DO? If I were the leader, I would intend to THINK “decision over consensus.” I would want to FEEL demanding of myself and the team and clear about the importance (the why). For the to-DO, I would  let team members know in advance each agenda item and whether we would make a Decision or Collaborate or simply get an Update. I would put decisions first and have a logical way to decide with clear accountability.

OK, so this is a bit general, but I’m sure your imagination has locked on on a situation critical to you. It took me three minutes to write these out, would have been even easier if I were thinking about an actual situation. Complex situations and those for which you are not really clear will take more time.

Here are the two big questions as you consider being more intentional:

  1. How good are you willing to have your meetings be?
  2. How good are you willing to have your work-life be?

Being more intentional will catapult you in both areas.