Julie, here…

My alarm sounded at 5:40 this morning to get me up for a running date with my running friends.  It’s autumn, and this wake up call felt like the middle of the night: dark.

I’ve been feeling a little bit under the weather the past few days, so when my alarm went off, I was looking for any excuse not to go.  I checked my phone, half hoping for texts of others saying they weren’t able to make it on the run this morning. Alas, no such luck.

I headed out with my headlamp, greeted by starry sky and chilly temperatures. Once at our meeting place, I knew I had made the right decision.  Five of us headed out into the black, running on trails we could barely see.

Intentionality. That is what got me out the door this morning.  Had I not made a commitment to these people and put these runs on my calendar, I’m certain I wouldn’t have been out there.

The definition of “intentional” isn’t exactly an elusive one. It simply means to be deliberate, and to do something on purpose, and is connected with words like calculated, conscious, intended, purposeful, and preplanned.

Without this intentionality to get me out on a run, I wouldn’t be improving as a runner. I have some running goals that will require intentionality.

We don’t hit our goals on accident. Students don’t become scholars without effort. No one grows spiritually without being purposeful. Athletes don’t show up to the Olympics without training.  Relationships aren’t just magically great without mindfulness. Businesses don’t just thrive without planning and hard work. Dieters don’t suddenly wake up 10 pounds lighter.

I am so intrigued with people doing good things in the world, making the world a better place.  I tend to think of them as a different breed, special, anointed, even lucky. And maybe they are to some degree. Maybe coming from a sort of life-cocoon, or place of privilege. Maybe, and if so, good for them for stewarding their blessings well.

But more often than not, people who are doing great things in the world (or in their neighborhood or families) have achieved this through being intentional. It starts with a vision and then requires reverse engineering to break down the steps to get there. It’s hard work to hang on to a vision when you’re the only one carrying it. It’s not easy to jump through all the hoops and learn the technology and network with people and schedule everything… and still maintain healthy relationships and take care of day-to-day responsibilities.

If we asked these folks how they got to where they are, they would have a story to tell. They would tell of roadblocks and times they almost gave up, of frustrations and times they felt ill-equipped for the task. And they would also share their breakthroughs and encouragements and what it was that kept them going.

Whatever you want in life, you must make a plan to go after it.

You who want to make the world a better place, what stands in your way? I’d love to hear your struggles and how (if) you’ve overcome. How have you harnessed the power of intentionality?

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