If you don’t have a destination it’s hard to tell when you have arrived. Such is the purpose of a statement of intent; to clarify the destination, so as to know when you have arrived. As part of the writing course I am taking with the good folks at authorlaunch.com the following lesson has proved helpful, and beneficial not only to the process of writing but life in general.
One of the first steps along the path to writing a book this year is to clarify what it is, exactly, I want to write about. What I have discovered in the infancy of this project is that there are about 4 things I would like to write about, each of them has their own merits, and each of them presents unique challenges. At first I thought that these 4 ideas were going to be parts of a single story, but the statement of intent helps me to realize that they don’t all fit the same theme. The statement of intent for each project would be decidedly different, but it is incredibly helpful to draw focus to a project that could otherwise be all over the place. Have you ever heard someone tell a story that was full of rabbit trails? Even if the asides are entertaining they don’t advance the cause of the story, and the full impact of the story is lessened, if not lost altogether.
The statement of intent asks 4 questions that help eliminate the non-essential background noise from the story at hand. This statement is meant to act as a compass of sorts to keep you on track, and make sure you arrive at your destination. It clarifies what you want people to THINK, KNOW, FEEL and DO differently upon completing your book. This type of focusing on the details forces you to jettison anything that doesn’t help to get you to the intended destination. In my case it has set the stage for additional stories or books to be considered down the road, although completing one book seems challenging enough at the present moment.
It also makes me wonder what other areas of my life would benefit from this same treatment of intentionality. What if I applied the same questions to my other pursuits, and had to chuck the parts that were inconsistent with getting me to where I wanted to go.
What if I applied this logic to my relationships? What do I want people to think, know, feel, and do after spending time with me? Or how about within my job, what do I want people to think, know, feel, and do about my vocation and the tasks that I seek to accomplish. This type of focus may seem a bit clinical at first, but it’s actually quite helpful.
I am about 15 pounds over weight. It’s not awful, but I’m pretty vain, so it bothers me. If I adapted the statement of intent concept to my fitness that extra weight would be easy to lose. I want to THINK differently about my weight, I want to KNOW that the extra weight isn’t good for me, I want to FEEL better physically and emotionally, I want to DO proactive things to lose the weight. This lens brings a focus to the task at hand, namely losing 15lbs, and evaluating my activities (or lack there of) against my intentions. Without this focus the task does not get accomplished, at least not in any time efficient manner. If I have a statement of intent my diet doesn’t include things that don’t help me get to where I am going, my activities don’t include binge watching my Netflix queue.
I want to be a good husband and father.
I want to be a good friend and neighbor.
I want to be an effective leader and teacher.
The statement of intent helps me to clarify how to make these goals happen, by shaping my activities to include the things that help me achieve them and rejecting those things that don’t.
What areas of your life could benefit from some intentionality? What sort of attitudes or behaviors don’t fit the grid for the story you want to tell with your life? Will you be intentional with how and what people THINK, KNOW, FEEL, and DO differently because of spending time with you? Starting with a destination is the only way to know when you have gotten to where you intended to go.
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