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Moving beyond good intentions…

I have recently finished a book called “Intentional Living” written by John Maxwell. It is a book that changed my perspectives, challenged me beyond my depth and created a renewed mind-set that I will carry with me always. Along with insight into new understanding, comes a sincere desire to share what I have learned in order to empower and ignite a flame in the heart of others too, and this is why I write.

“The key to choosing a life that matters is being intentional. If you possess the desire to make a difference, place a high value on people, and are willing to team up with others, significance is within your reach.” – John Maxwell

There is a huge difference between good intentions and intentional living. Quite simply, people with good intentions cannot make an impact unless they act upon those intentions and become intentional about carrying them out. I’m still learning and trying to put this into practice everyday, and there is no doubt that it isn’t an easy ride. Acknowledging the difference between positive thinking and positive actions was the starting point for me. Here are ten comparisons between good intentions and a life that matters.

  1. People with good intentions have a desire. They want to do something, be involved, contribute, and be helpful. However without action, such results cannot be achieved. If you have a desire, you need to act in order to achieve results.

  2. Good intentions wish to be more. Through a life of purpose which is defined by what you do, who you are and what you believe, you will find fulfilment. Intentional living means taking your wishes and converting them into purpose-driven acts that lead to fulfilment.

  3. Good intentions say ‘someday’. Today is what bridges the gap between someday and every day. In other words, if you are thinking ‘maybe someday I will make a difference’, starting today is the only way to one day make a difference every day.

  4. People of good intentions have a mind filled with fantasy. They are forever dreaming of what could be. The way to change that fantasy into reality is to implement Developing strategies to carry out these fantasies will ensure follow-through and a life that adds value to others.

  5. Hopeful people have good intentions. They say ‘hopefully I can’ whereas in order to do you need to say “I definitely can!” Hopefully becomes definitely and slowly but surely, definitely will become continually.

  6. People with good intentions are passive. People who live intentionally are active in order to become proactive. One first needs to be active in order to reach proactive.

  7. Good intentions are occasional. They will do it or say it from time to time. When occasional transforms to continual, these things will soon become habitual.

  8. Emotions are the driving force for good intentions. People feel moved or driven by their emotions and their compassion for others. However those emotions are useless unless we find the discipline to turn them into a lifestyle of loving others. For example, if your heart is burdened for homeless children and you spend countless hours crying about the situation, your emotions are useless. Only once that emotion drives the discipline to do more, will your emotions become significant.

  9. Good intentions say “somebody should.” Intentional living says “I will” and a life that matters says “I do”.

  10. Survival mode is what often kicks in for people with good intentions. They want to survive to get through the day or week or month. However a person of intentional living will strive for successin order to live a life of significance.

“If you want to live a life that matters, don’t start when you get good; start now so you become good.” – John Maxwell

I have always given myself the benefit of the doubt because my intentions have been good and because it was in my heart to do good for others. However this book has taught me that as wonderful as my good intentions are, they will never bear fruit, they will never add value to the lives of others unless I am relentlessly intentional about carrying them out and living them every day. I have learnt that a life of significance is impossible for anyone who doesn’t live intentionally day after day. I am challenged by this concept more than I can describe, but I am encouraged to live a life that strives for meaning, a life beyond myself.

John Maxwell says “Nobody finishes well by accident. I want to finish well which means that I must acknowledge that: character matters, people matter, perspective matters, attitude matters, passion matters, today matters, God matters, faithfulness matters.”

One question to ponder: What game are you watching that you’d rather be playing?

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