The Road to Hell
“I feel like a billiard ball” I said to my cousin, as we rambled down the 101 in his Volkswagen bug to start our second quarter at UCSB. Even though I knew what I wanted, it was like I was bouncing off the balls and cushions of a cosmic pool table, with somebody else holding the cue.
A dream of mine, from my mid-teens, was to sail around the world. I thought it would “happen” by the time I was thirty. I had no plan, and I had no idea how it was supposed to come about—it was just supposed to happen. Then, on my thirtieth birthday, I nearly lost a close family member. That was my first mortality wakeup call—a notice from above that life is short, and if there were things I wanted, I was the one responsible for making them happen.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7
In that pivotal moment I became intentional. I signed up for sailing lessons. I went after more lucrative work to pay for the adventure, and I opened a savings account to build my reserves. Things came together with a self-empowerment seminar where I met the person who would become my cruising partner. Combining desire and intention with action, was like placing a firm hand on the helm of my own ship. It gave me energy and attracted people around me.
There have been times since then when I have drifted, but I have learned that the more one lives with intention, the more life seems to go your way. Living an intentional life includes the small things as well as the large. Things like having clear outcomes in mind for conversations; having goals and agendas for meetings; checking your calendar before going to bed; and being thoughtful with your To Do List.
Intention is just one part of the formula though. It must be coupled with action, otherwise… it really is the road to Hell. Living without intention, and its coupled action, is like being a ball in a Galton board, randomly bouncing from pin to pin. Most people end up about average. A few end up much worse. A few end up much better. What is noteworthy about both intention and action are that they require a conscious effort; they are not accidental.
When writing the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen. – Harley Davidson
There have been many purveyors of intentional living. Napoleon Hill made early waves with his book, Think and Grow Rich. More recently, offerings like Jordan Peterson’s Life Authoring course, or Jon & Missy Butcher’s Lifebook, have come on the stage. Regardless of how one gets there, living with intention is essential to maximizing our lives and our potential.