In “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice is lost and asks the Caterpillar for advice:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Caterpillar: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
In business and organizations, it’s all too easy to focus on the actions you’re taking – on the work that you’re doing – and to neglect the big picture of where you’re going and why you’re going there. January is often a month for goal setting, but without INTENTIONALITY, you may just find yourself wandering aimlessly and unproductively. So this month in Illuminations, we will consider being intentional and having goals, and on the ways that these tools provide direction for your work and success for your organization. This month, you will hear from each of the “Luminaries” (Lumin Consulting staff) who will share how she practices being intentional in work and life.
Tori Littlefield kicks off our look at practicing intentionality:
So here it is the beginning of the week and as I look around at my desk and my desktop, there are any number of things calling for my attention. Especially that pesky email list that has somehow grown longer over the weekend. People don’t seem to take weekends off any more, do they?
Left to my own devices, I’ll start working on the top thing on the pile, or the thing that looks most interesting, or the thing that doesn’t take much effort. So, I find that it’s useful to have goals – things that I want to accomplish by the end of the week, and that, in our small business, revolve around delivering good work for our clients, making sure that the “Luminaries” (the staff at Lumin Consulting) know what’s going on for the week and that they have the information and resources to do their work, and making contact with people who might be our future clients.
Goals are useful things, because they help me make decisions about where to spend (and not spend) my time and effort. If some random task pops up, I can ask myself, “If I spend time on that task, does it move us toward our goals for the week or not?” If not, I put it in to “to do later” list – and often it turns out that it’s really a task that I never need to do. Even with this filter, the “tasks that contribute to our goals” list gets pretty long and it’s helpful to prioritize them as urgent (or not) and important (or not).
So, I have a tool of a prioritized goal list. But, like any other tool, it’s only useful if I actually use it, which is where intentionality comes in. That attractive nuisance, my ever growing email list, is so easy just to glance at for a few minutes, a few minutes that turn into an hour or two. I feel (and am) so much more productive if I am intentional about – first thing in the morning – looking at my prioritized list of important and urgent things to do, remembering which goals they support, and focusing my efforts on the important things that move us toward our goals.
What’s the attractive nuisance in your world that pulls you away from the important work and goals? How do you stay intentionally focused on the work that moves you toward your important goals?