Learn more about habits with this collection
Cultivating self-awareness and self-reflection
Prioritizing and setting boundaries for self-care
Practicing mindfulness and presence
Sometimes you do everything right—you make a plan, put in effort exactly how you intended to, and things still don’t work out. That can hurt, but most of the time, this isn’t the case.
This is what I call the action-intention gap. It is the difference between how we would intend to do things, and what actually happens. It’s the difference between a great idea and great execution. This is where most of our struggles, failures and frustrations originate.
Closing this gap isn’t easy, but there is a fairly straight-forward process. It has three steps.
The first reason people have a gap is that their intentions weren’t very clear to begin with. If you aren’t even sure what you intended to do, how could you possibly stick with it?
So many dreams die because they were never more than fantasies. If you want to have any chance of improving your life, it needs to start with being clear about what you intend to do, even if you’re still imperfect about following through on those plans.
The next step is harder. It’s not enough to set goals, intentions or plans. You need to understand who is the person that will be acting on them.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why did your goals fail in the past? What obstacles will get in the way and how can you work around them?
If not having intentions is the first cause of failure, the second is imagining an idealized superhero is actually going to act on your plans. That person doesn’t exist. There’s only you. So you’d better align your intentions with the kinds of things you can actually follow.
Your end-goal has two parts. The first part, is that your intentions, if followed, should get you where you need to go. If you’re trying to launch a company, learn a language, graduate from college or lose weight, the plan you set has to at least have a decent chance of working out.
The second part is that your intentions need to be engineered so that you can actually act on them. Knowing yourself, and what things in your life, personality and habits will interfere and support your intentions can help you design your project to accommodate your situation.
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