Most people live aimlessly and without thought as to how they are living. When someone becomes drug or alcohol addicted, they spend more time and attention diligently pursuing anything supporting their addiction and ignore other endeavors. Dreams and aspirations from the past fall by the wayside. Spending time planning and pursuing goals evaporates, often being overlooked or carelessly pushed to the side. As you enter into and build your recovery, it can be a pleasant privilege to once again focus on the important aspects of your new life.
What Does it Mean to be Intentional?
To be intentional means to be meaningfully focused on key areas of living. Your actions are purposeful, not random or chaotic. You are deliberate in the way you live and what you do. Your desires, wishes, and dreams have significance and meaning for yourself and those around you. You pursue these dreams with deliberation and forethought. You understand that sacrifices will be made, are able to ignore the interruptions blocking your way, and delay gratification in order to accomplish your goals.
Randall was 43 years old when I met him. His glassy stare, the violent images on his tattooed arms, and a distinct scar above his right eye suggested that life had not been easy. He had spent the last 8 ½ years doing little more than pursuing his drug-using lifestyle. He had lost several jobs along the way, been pushed out of a relationship or two, and brought himself to the brink of financial ruin. While in treatment, hope began to build and confidence in himself began to return. He spoke of some past factory and manufacturing experiences. His intelligence, drive, and aptitude all indicated he could pursue his dream of becoming a tool and die maker. As he strengthened his recovery, he also solidified his goal to again obtain technical training. He also focused on important personal traits to help him achieve his goal. He worked to become patient, diligent, purposeful, and focused. He spent time reading and learning.
Limit Distractions and Interruptions
In becoming more intentional, it is helpful to focus on how to achieve our goals. These goals are best understood as having a high level of importance but a low level of urgency. Goals are activities that help us achieve important personal and professional tasks. Make sure you have enough time to attend your goals without unnecessary urgency or crisis. If an activity or task is urgent but not important, you might be easily interrupted by it. Other people are often the primary source of interruptions. Someone walking by your chair while you’re reading and asking you a question is an example of an interruption.
If the task is not urgent and nor important, consider it a distraction. Watching television, playing video games, and endlessly texting on your phone may be defined as distractions. They are neither urgent nor very important, but manage to engage our attention, use our time, and keep us from working toward any significant goal.
It’s a Crisis
When a task is extremely urgent, and at the same time quite important, it may be described as a crisis. These tasks are unexpected, but often necessary, and even critical, such as taking a family member to urgent care for immediate medical attention. It cannot be avoided. It is always nice to have enough time in your schedule to manage crisis situations and unplanned events when they do arise.
Like Randall, as your recovery progresses and you get stronger, you will have an opportunity to once again pursue important tasks and dreams from the past. Learn to be more intentional with your time, personal energy, and financial resources. Resist the urge to be random, scattered, and haphazard. Define your goals and pursue them with careful focus. As you do, momentum, increased self-confidence, and renewed energy will reemerge.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!