027: Intentionality - Where do I start?



If you’re trying to be intentional, where do you start? This week, Justin gives a few tips and strategies to get you going.


Getting Results the Agile Way


00:00 Hello and welcome to Process, a podcast by Effective Remote Work. My name is Justin DiRose and today we’re talking about where do I start if I want to be intentional? In last week’s episode I brought up the idea of having a water cooler type chat and there was a poll over on the community forums and the response has been positive so far, so I’m going to keep this open for another week or so and if you think a water cooler chat for remote workers is a good idea, head on over to the poll linked in the show notes to cast your vote. Now on to today’s topic, if I want to be intentional, where do I start? Well, the easy and completely vague answer that helps nobody is right where you are. Great, but how do I get from where I am to where I want to go? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about on this week’s episode.

00:56 Let’s expand on that first statement because even though just those couple of words aren’t necessarily very helpful to anyone, there’s a lot more packed in there and it’s a lot more complex than it first sounds. Living life of intentionality starts out by realizing that you are not at lack. We all have the same building blocks in our lives, which is our time, our choices and our will. Where we start is different from others because our lives are different, our upbringings are different, our starting points are different, but the only thing that matters when it comes to intentionality and success is where you are today versus where you are tomorrow. With your time, your choices and your will. You have the capability to make every day great. In fact, every day is a good day. Just some days are less great than others. So this is something that I want you to remember as we’re talking about a couple of strategies and tips to being intentional and getting started off.

02:00 So remember this. The first strategy I want to take a look at today in becoming intentional is the wheel of life. The wheel of life is something that Zig Ziglar came up with and it’s basically a pie chart of different areas in your life. And the whole concept is that if one of these areas is not where you want it to be or it’s not healthy, not full, then the wheel is flat. They’re all different areas in your life that you need to keep up on in order to live a fully healthy, fully complete life. So the first strategy is to find a diagram of the wheel of life. I’ll link one in the show notes, then look at it. And even just on your gut reaction to it, pick an area that stands out to you as needing a lot of work. Doesn’t necessarily have to be the most work, but it can be one that needs quite a bit of work.

02:58 So you can take a look at that. Find one thing that you can do repeatedly to advance that thing further and then start doing it. The whole idea is to build the smallest atomic action that you can. So, for example, if you pick health and exercise, maybe you know you need to lose weight, but losing weight is not an atomic action. Instead you need to figure out what something you can do repeatedly to help you lose weight. Maybe that’s taking a 10 minute walk during the day. Now, whatever it is that you choose, do that and do it repeatedly and then when you feel like you’ve gotten a level of progress in that area, take a look back. See if you are at a place where you need to work on something else. Maybe look at the wheel of life again and see if there’s something else that stands out to you as an area to focus on and then pick the next area to focus on.

03:55 Or maybe you want to continue walking and continue to developing your health. Pick something else, keep walking, but maybe build on top of that habit. Now a tip in regards to having habits and forming habits, it’s pretty commonly stated that habits are formed by consistently doing the same thing. Well, I like to put in a little bit of an addendum to that. Habits aren’t just formed by consistently doing something. They’re formed by starting again once you fall off the wagon doing it. Let’s put it this way, doing anything routine is making it part of your life. Making something part of your life often involves changing the way you think or changing your mindset around it. For example, 10 years ago I weighed well over 200 pounds and I was living a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. A few factors in my life caused me to reevaluate what I actually valued and make changes in those areas.

04:53 I had to make a choice to cut out soda, fast food. I had to choose to eat healthier and incorporate exercise, and over the course of about five years, I was down to a pretty healthy weight and at that point I didn’t have to think about it too much because I had changed my mindset. It was easy for me to eat healthy. It was easy for me to want to go exercise. However, when my wife and I had our first child, I took on some more stressful jobs at work and I started to gain weight again. But now that we’ve moved into a new house, I took that as an opportunity to reset my routine and re look at my mindsets again. Now since we’ve been doing this, I’ve been intermittently fasting for health and spiritual reasons and I’ve been exercising nearly every single day.

05:38 The whole point that I am trying to get across here is that every time you fail and fall off the wagon, whether it’s one day or a year or a month or whatever it is, but when you choose to get back on the horse, when you choose to continue pursuing the thing that you wanted to pursue in the first place, you further the process to change the way you think and you continue to develop habits. Your habits are basically just an outflowing of what you think and believe inside. What you do tends to come from what you believe or what you think. So keep that in mind when you’re looking at building habits is that it’s not about just checking the box off every single day and saying, I did it for a hundred days. It’s about transforming the way you think about the things you do.

06:34 The next strategy I want to cover is one that I recently came across, which I thought was really interesting, but it’s just having the mindset of having no more zero days. I’ll post a link to the original post on reddit where this came from, but the whole idea is to make sure that you have no more days where you’re not advancing towards something that you want to go toward. So basically you pick a goal that you want to achieve. Then you simply make sure that there are no days where you’re not making any progress towards it. So if you’re writing a book, you can count a victory if you’ve written anything, even if it’s just a couple of words. The mere fact that you’re honoring the habit, touching the keys, so to say, of pursuing that goal, is making it an intentional pursuit. But another thing to remember when you’re pursuing things is that you can’t do everything.

07:26 I know with our digital systems it’s very easy to think and feel like we can take on more, accomplish more, more and more, more, do more, be more. All of this fun stuff. We’re going to talk a little bit more about this next week, but remember this one thing, as much as your tools enable you to do, you still need margin in your life. You can’t just take on more stuff to do and more goals to accomplish because you feel like you have the capacity to manage it. There is a realistic break point in there where the amount of things that we have on our plate starts to become a little too much for us to handle, and so that’s why the tips and strategies that we’re talking about today really focus on some of the big picture stuff, but also focusing on doing one thing at a time.

08:19 Don’t try to take on 10 goals at the same time or one really big goal. Pick something small. Focus on that. Get good at it. Then move on to the next thing. The last strategy I want to talk about today is defining your wins. I recently read a great article by Colter Reed where he talked about how important it is for us to define our wins for the day. He talks about that when we’re kids, we’re often told that we can play until the work is done and when we get to become adults, we carry that mindset over and it completely fails us because the work never stops. There’s always something that needs to be done when we live lives as responsible adults, especially when we have a family, when we have bills to pay, when we have house to clean, laundry to do, a job to accomplish, there’s always something that needs to happen.

09:12 So the idea is to intentionally create and define your wind condition for a specific day. So you know what a great day looks like, and this doesn’t even have to be a task. It can be I played with my kids today, or I enjoyed working outside, or even more simply, I enjoyed my lunch. I love this concept because it draws on some of the principles that I thoroughly enjoyed from the book Getting Results the Agile Way by JD Meier. He talks about defining three wins for the day and this is basically the same type of idea. Just figure out what a good day looks like and write it down. It doesn’t have to be copycat for every day, but it can be every day you write down and when you plan your day, the first thing you look at is what is a good day look like for today? Because the work never stops, but if we give ourselves a benchmark of what a good day looks like, then it’s going to be a lot easier to say, okay, I’m spent for the day. I don’t have any more energy, but there’s a million things left to do on my task list. Can I feel good about what I’ve gotten done today? And if you’ve hit your win condition, it’s very easy to say yes.

10:30 Ultimately, these are just a few strategies and tips on starting to become more intentional. The best thing you can do is start where you are and to do the best you can with what you have today. If you move the needle forward, even if it’s just a little tiny bit, it’s a success. Intentionality really starts at the place of remembering that you are not at lack. You have the same 168 hours in a week as anyone else. You have the same ability to choose and make choices for your life and it’s not about comparing yourself to what other people do. It’s about seeing how you’ve made progress from yesterday to today and into tomorrow.

11:16 Well, that’s all for this time. If you want to join in on the discussion for this episode, or if you want to connect with other remote workers looking to grow in their effectiveness, head on over to the Effective Remote Work Community at community.effectiveremotework.com. If Twitter’s your thing, you can find me at @justindirose, and the podcast and community @effectiveremote. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show at podcast.effectiveremotework.com. Lastly, if you like this show, rate us on iTunes or recommend us on Overcast! My name is Justin DiRose and join me next time on Process.


Found this podcast about small habits building up to bigger goals quite helpful: Consistency vs Intensity

This is also reflected in his book Your Best Year Ever


Thanks for sharing! Michael Hyatt has more and more been a profound influencer in the productivity world. I’ll add this to my list to listen to.