I believe we all know the meaning of the word intentional. But what not everybody may be aware of is the fact that intentionality, while similar to the word intentional, does not just mean being deliberate or purposive.
Intentionality is a philosophical concept defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as “the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs”. There is a deeper, more Stanford-esque breakdown of this philosophy but I will not get into it, mostly because I do not understand it. Lol. I tried reading that Stanford article, the operative word being tried, and clearly I am not Ivy League material because I absolutely could not understand it.
Lucky for me, intentionality can also be defined as the quality of mental states (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) which consists in their being directed towards some object or state of affairs. This more palatable definition is what I will focus on for today’s post.
You can do anything you set your mind to. – Benjamin Franklin
I am sure almost all of us have been told those words at some point in our lives. In my younger years I was not a fan of that quote as I believed it to be generic advice rooted in unfounded optimism. But now I know it is not about optimism, unfounded or otherwise, but about intentionality. The older I get the more I understand that the mind is powerful AF and what you feed it is key. Now that quote is one of my favourites and I have said it to practically everyone in my life at some point. Clearly Mr. Franklin being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States knew what he was talking about.
All my life I have always been an intentional person but it was not until last year, thanks to something my sister said, that I was able to articulate that fact much better. Everyone who knows me has called me a go-getter (or a variation of that adjective) at one point or another, but I did not know that almost all my life I have been practicing intentionality. Before all I knew is that I have always been deliberate and purposeful about what (and who, hehe!) I want. Now I know that to be an intentional person is to take ownership. Being an intentional person means that everything you do is done with a certain resolve.
Which is why I disagree when people tell me the “man of my dreams” will find me as to me that sentiment is very passive. I have never been passive about anything in my life and I am not about to start now with my love life. I much prefer to say we will find each other as that implies some deliberate action on my part as well as his.
In H Is For Hope I wrote that if you are deliberate and intentional with what you want, and you work really hard for it, most times the universe will reward you accordingly. This is something I believe in wholeheartedly as it has proven to be true time and time again. For example, in January 2016 I put it out to the universe that by the end of the first quarter of that year I will have a new job. On March 30, 2016, the penultimate (I LOVE that word) day of Q1, I received a call from the HR of my current organisation, inquiring how soon I can come in to discuss my offer letter.
Now of course it was not that straightforward. Intentionality ≠ miracles. I may have made it clear to the universe what my desire was, but I was deliberate in my actions by sending my CV to the agencies I wished to join and checking on the progress every three weeks or so. It also helped that I had the necessary qualifications on paper, and that I was confident, enthusiastic, well-versed and eloquent during my interviews. Let me take a minute to brag a bit and say that by the time I was doing the third and final interview with the CEO he was so impressed with me that he told me I will hear from them the next day. The next day was the aforementioned penultimate day of Q1.
My intentionality does not just apply to what I want. Sometimes, the fun times, it also applies to who I want.
I put up that photo on both my Instagram feed and my WhatsApp story with the caption “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” A friend of mine saw the pic on my WhatsApp story and this is the conversation that ensued:
So yes, I am also very intentional with my seduction. Which is why I love love love One Way or Another by Blondie. Or maybe I love the song because Coyote Ugly and Mean Girls are my faves … I digress.
All that being said, I believe successful intentionality comes down to:
- How deliberate you are with your thoughts, beliefs, desires and hopes. To quote my sister “you need to be deliberate and intentional with what you want and put it out to the universe.” If your thoughts, beliefs, desires and hopes are vague what do you expect the universe to do with that vague shit? VIVO – Vague In, Vague Out. And yes I have just made that up right now but it is an influencer away from becoming a fact. Lol.
- How resilient you are when things do not go according to plan. Just because you want something real bad does not mean that you will get it. That is just not how life works. So will you give up and say “I tried” or “It’s too hard” or “I’m not like ~insert successful person~ who does it all.” Nah fam! Reevaluate, reconsider, review, rework, rephrase … do all the re’s necessary to course correct and keep it moving. And to be clear I am not talking about doing all the re’s necessary to adjust your goals but rather the action steps it will take to achieve them.
- Your ability to learn from your mistakes. There will be times you will fail in your endeavours. And that is okay because failure is inevitable. What matters is that you identify the lesson(s) from every mistake made and turn those lessons into an asset.
I will leave you with the words of Napoleon Hill as I conclude. Hopefully this post has inspired you to go forth and live your best life filled with intentionality.
Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.