You need to live the life you want to live, in your career and in your life. You can’t wait for it to be handed to you, or you’re likely to end up living a default life. A life that says nothing, and stands for nothing.
A blah life. A boring life.
To live the life that you want, you have to be intentional about defining what it is that you want, and then take the actions needed to earn it.
John Lilly wrote a great blog entry about the idea of intentionality where he rightfully asserts that the power to get really focused is probably one of the biggest and most important developmental challenge our society faces, and looking around, it’s easy to see why. Almost everything about our society seems designed to distract and pull focus. Our screens are crowded with features, functions, and ads, and our entertainment is chunked into bite-sized pieces to ensure we can pay attention to it and stay engaged.
So a powerful focus could become your superpower. It can show others that you know who you are, and you know what you’re about. In order to get and hold people’s attention, you’ll have to connect to something deep, real, and important to you, or you’ll end up spouting the same thing that everyone else is saying. And getting the same old tired results.
Oprah recently recorded an interview with LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, where she spoke about the fact that the number one principle that rules her life is intention. And if anyone is a walking, breathing example of striving to live your best life, it’s her. She talks about how she had to revisit what success would look like for her a numerous times throughout her life.
With that goal of a powerful focus in mind, here are a few ideas about how to avoid the boring, be intentional, and strive to stand out, authentically.
1. Listen To Yourself
Do you hear the way you sound when your voice is played back in a recording? It often sounds like a different person, because others don’t hear your voice with the resonance that you do from inside your head. So you need to find a way to hear what you say to others from outside your own head.
Go back and read some important emails you’ve sent to other people, but with new eyes — asking yourself “Looking at how this email is worded, what kind of person is speaking?” and “What is this person’s agenda?”. Find other people to help you do some investigative work around the ‘voice’ that you use with other people.
2. Check Your Assumptions
There’s something called the Candle Test (video explanation), which is designed to test how fixed your assumptions are — it shows how people have difficulty solving a problem when they are presented with items that they believe have a ‘fixed’ functionality. Spoiler alert: in the candle example, it’s a box of tacks that gets overlooked for alternative functionality.
What this means for you is that you may already have some fixed beliefs about what is possible for you. And those ideas might be holding you back from considering alternative paths to get you to a new place.
3. Make A List (and Check It Twice)
Take a sheet of paper and list down some of the more important choices that you are facing today, and then try to predict what would likely happen if you were to make no choice, or if you just allowed things to happen. What would be the likely result? If it’s not going to help you continue to grow and discover then you might need to make some different choices to shake things up.
Now I’m not saying that you’ll magically get everything that you want just by being more intentional — I don’t think life works that way. But you can’t stand out if you don’t set yourself apart. So it’s worth the time to figure out what your real intentions are and get started on living that life.
My friend Karen Coltun recently reminded me:
Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. ‘Know thyself’ is not a narcissistic pursuit. — Marianne Williamson
What might your life be like if you decided to know yourself better, and made fewer ‘default’ choices? Not boring, I’ll bet!
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