Intentionality. A very impressive sounding word, but what does it mean?
The dictionary defines it as being deliberate or purposeful, but why is that important?
Too many of us ‘float’ through life. When was the last time you remarked to someone “where has the year gone?” I don’t know about you, but I felt like Summer turned to Autumn very quickly this year! Time can drift away in the wind and you suddenly find days, weeks, months and years disappearing. The way I find to combat this is with intentionality. For me, being intentional is trying to live every moment on purpose, but what does that mean in practice?
Doing what I do, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about what they want their future to look like. This is natural when you are planning for the future. But if we’re being intentional, this has to apply to the here and now as well as the future.
Here & Now
Let’s start with now… what do you want your life to look like? What hours do you want to spend working? What hours do you want to spend with your family? What about your health and hobbies?
A useful exercise is to think about your perfect week. When would you wake up? What would you do first thing? Which hours would you work? Where would you eat lunch and who with? What about your evenings? Which days would you work? What about your free days? What would you do and who would you spend them with?
At times, work time can creep up and either reduce leisure time or take over your home life. You can’t let it. It sounds fairly alarmist, but the clock is ticking! You can’t get back time that has already gone. If you think back to last week, how much time did you spend doing things that made you unhappy or didn’t fulfil an important purpose?
I try to be very intentional about most things I do. For instance, for me, family is massive. I am very aware that I cannot go back in time to when my children are young, so I cherish every moment. I prioritise and make time for them as much as possible.
I also recognise that being healthy in terms of regular exercise and eating well helps me feel happy, energised and able to make the most of the day. Anything that doesn’t contribute to either living that intentional life or moving towards it isn’t important. For instance, I don’t watch much television at all. Purely my choice, there are other things I would rather spend my time doing!
Intentionality stretches to the future. What do you want your future life to look like? Do you want to work into later life, perhaps starting the business you always wanted? Or perhaps you want to retire from your day job to support a charity close to your heart? Maybe you have a bucket list of places you’d like to visit? Things you’d like to experience? Perhaps you just want to retire to spend more time with the ones you love.
In this case, intentionality is all about being very intentional about what you do with your money to make sure you achieve everything you want to. Being intentional about making sure your finances are aligned with what you want to do now and in the future; your investments and pensions are aligned with your future vision; ensuring you are putting away the right amount for the future and staying on track.
Being intentional about ensuring you have a vision for the future and you are clear on how this can be achieved and funded. Then being intentional on following the plan and ensuring it flexes and evolves to changing circumstances; both yours and the world around you.
Being intentional is very important both for me personally and professionally. Financial planning can help you plan intentionally for the future; whilst helping you focus on living intentionally in the here and now. After all, who knows what’s around the corner.
If you would like to explore how to be more intentional with your life and finances, please do feel free to get in contact for a relaxed and informal chat over coffee.
This article is based on a similar article I was asked to write recently aimed at my peers. If interested, you can find it here.