New year resolutions are a waste of time. By the second week of February, 80 percent of resolutions will fade. Like an early winter storm, there is a flurry of initial action, and then we get buried and stuck until someone comes along and pulls us out. We hear the voice of “Attention Change!” yet our actions never wake-up.
Each new year brings resolutions, and this is my third post within the last ten days about intentions and actions. Why another post given my distaste for new year resolutions? The simple reason is attention.
A new year brings attention to resolutions. My hope is to get our attention and shift our actions to try a different way. Whether it is a better way is really up to us. Change starts from within.
No matter the time of the year, what I begin to see is a necessary cycle to get new habits to stick.
- Someone or some event grabs your attention.
- You set several new intentions.
- You put in motion several new actions.
- Without interactions between your intentions and actions, you get stuck.
What seems to trip people up is skipping the fourth step and inconsistency in the third.
Attention Change: Let’s Make It Real
Let’s explore a way to (hopefully) make the change you wish to see real.
A fresh year wakes us up. Our attention is focused that we need to make certain changes. The annual event is a crowded one, yet we feel part of a community of change. Although the community is largely disconnected, it still has our attention.
The reality is individuals have attention-grabbing situations and events that serve as wake-up calls to change their behaviors, mindsets, and actions. We know we need to change or suffer even worse consequences.
When these attention-getting things happen, they can be more lonely ones. However, inevitably, we begin to find a community to support us in our needed change. Support is present for us; we need to listen and engage. Add in a mix of strong self-reflection, and we begin to get our own attention to what needs to shift, stop, and begin.
Being attentive to the change we need to make is an imperative for any change to happen.
Intentions are, simply, what we plan to do. When we write our intentions down, they gain value and meaning. A written intention commits. An intention in our thoughts just wanders.
Defining your new intentions is the first step. The next one is to write them down. An added step is to share them with individuals that will ensure they make sense and then hold you accountable along the way.
Intentions alone are like coffee without the caffeine. It tastes good, but no gumption exists. What’s more, you may just take a nap after writing them down. Sweet thoughts dancing around but no traction.
Actions enliven good intentions. For each good intention, there need to be two to three corresponding actions. Ideally, the actions should contain measurable outcomes. Answering this question is essential: When I act upon my intentions consistently, what will I be in 3 to 6 to 9 to 12 months? More to the point, what change will I see, and what change will others see?
The age old inspirational quote of “Be the change” does not mean just “be.” It means “Be the change by acting upon the desired change.”
Interaction is the missing element between intention and action. If we connect our actions to our intentions and our intentions to our actions, we gain a tempo. To achieve real change, no wall can exist between intention and action. Both are intertwined with bold interactions.
What type of interactions? A key interaction is assessing whether the action is enabling your intention. If not, what added actions are required? Another key interaction is reflecting on the strength of the intention. If your actions are too easy or achieved too quickly, you may have set the bar too low.
Interactions are give-and-take. Interactions inspire self-reflections. Self-reflections strengthen our intentions and actions. Momentum and accountability are very good things when adopting a new, positive habit or direction.
Strong interactions between your intentions and actions ensure there is a strong rhythm of positive change.
Attention for Change
1 – Get your attention.
- What change do you want to see with yourself – life and work?
- What change do you want to see in your organization?
- What change do you want to see in your community?
2 – With the answer to each question, define your intentions for change and direction.
3 – With each intention, write down specific actions to begin and identify the ideal outcomes and measurements along the way.
4 – As you go, interact between your intentions and actions. Are your actions enabling your intention? Are your intentions beginning to sprout and grow in the way desired? Make adjustments as needed.
No magic sauce required. Just a healthy sense of self-awareness, a strong backbone of discipline, and a consistency of actions to make your change come alive.
New years will come and go. The ultimate question is: Are you acting on the change you wish to see in yourself, your workplace, and your community?
Let’s begin. Are you ready?
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