I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, March 5, 2012

Being Intentional

By Paula Boire,

writing as Sara L. Jameson

Here we are, on the cusp of spring. And if you’re one of the lucky ones living in the Desert Southwest, spring is already here. All those autumn rains have blessed us with a bumper crop of wildflowers. It makes hiking the canyons, my water bottles on my hips, a mini journal in my fanny pack, even more delightful. In fact I so love being out there, sometimes it’s hard to make myself do those other pesky things I need to do.

As a confirmed workaholic and multi-tasker, the past months I worked hard (I’m not talking about hiking here) but nothing seemed to get finished, so I prayed about it. A lot. God’s answer was, “be intentional.” Uncertain what He meant, it slowly became clearer: it wasn’t enough to set general goals.

He wanted me to prayerfully commit a time frame to work on a project and determine a specific goal to be accomplished within it; whether it’s doing laundry, ironing, working out at the gym, writing letters, editing, working on one of my WIPs, or—Wow!—even a specific chunk of time for fun!

For me, having goal-dedicated time for R&R was a novel idea. Surprisingly, this makes doing lunch or a movie with friends, extra special. And the minutes of the day begin to feel like gift-wrapped presents.

Because being intentional is also about enjoying the moment. Getting things done in less time. Deciding on a specific goal—I will iron four shirts in the next half hour—creates a sense of real accomplishment. (Leaving more guilt-free time for writing!) Even ironing is more enjoyable. Well . . . sort of.

I still pray about how to spend the day and I still stumble with being intentional.

As a writer it has meant designating a specific time frame to explore some of Donald Maas’s writing prompts on his website. Result: some scenes and paragraphs I’m now incorporating in a new WIP. Or focusing on specific scenes or a novel by a favorite author. Goal: to master a troublesome craft issue.

You’ll notice the word “specific” a lot in this post. I’m finding specificity is key to mastering being intentional. It adds variety to life. Things are more fun. Yep. Even the ironing.

How is God teaching you to juggle life’s responsibilities as a writer?

17 comments:

  1. Paula,

    I love my "To Do List". It helps me focus and get things done.

    If you saw my desk right now, you would gasp in horror. But by the time I go to bed this AM it will be neatly stacked and ready for my next go at it.

    I stress less when I have a clear plan of action.

    Blessings,
    Alena T.

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  2. I love the phrase "be intentional." I find I juggle a lot and sometimes get hit by falling balls. I've also learned to prioritize--write when I'm most fresh--do less-demanding goals later. Thanks for the freshness of this, Paula, and blessings!

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  3. Great tips! I think I need to set these smaller and more specific goals. But...ironing? People still do that?

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  4. Alena, I love To-Do lists too. Otherwise I tend to think all the time is free to do whatever. :-) I couldn't manage without them, actually. Thanks for posting.

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  5. Dee, I can so empathize with the falling balls, because that's often an image I get,too. And you do have a lot to juggle!

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  6. Only super neat people like Paula iron, Teri! I press sometimes. lol
    Thank you so much for these words, Paula. I am going to do as you suggested and make specific goals...like finish the fast draft of my next book by the middle of April. There. I've done it. Put it in writing. (after changing it 2 times lol) Thanks for the encouragement and great tips!

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  7. Teri, re: ironing you are sooo right. Yep, I do iron because I seem to wear cotton clothes. But finding a professional caregiver-helper last year who could iron turned out to be the impossible dream.

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  8. Oh Pat, I am not super neat. If Alena saw my desk, my room, the lists . . . Be praying for you as you finish that fast draft!!!!!

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  9. Paula, I love the photo!

    I try to be intentional but it's hard. Thanks for the suggestions to be specific. If I don't schedule writing time, then stick to my schedule, I don't write. Too many other urgent tasks steal my time.

    Intentional about ironing? No, I hang permanent press right out of the dryer, then spray anything that's a bit wrinkled. Works for me. ;-)

    Wonderful post!

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  10. Lve your post, Paula, and the suggestions to be intentional. I think of myself as organized, but it is only when I follow my to-do list that things get done. I'm learning to make writing daily a part of my "to-do's." I can certainly learn from you in praying for God's guidance on what to be intentional on each given day.

    Irons are supposed to be used on clothes? My mama always taught me they were best used as a door stop. :)

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  11. This is good stuff, Paula. You're so right - goals are great, but there needs to be serious, God-infused intention behind them. I love, too, that God doesn't leave us alone with our good intentions. He's with us as we work, persevere and follow through.

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  12. I like what you had to say, Paula, because so often I leave "have fun" to the absolute last thing on my list. And it often gets shoved off my list again and again and again.

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  13. I definitely agree with these things! It's a great idea to cut out things you don't need to do, but remember to keep some of the fun/relaxing in, or else you'll go crazy!

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  15. Haha, Teri! Exactly! My steamer is one of my most treasured possessions. :-)

    Great post, Paula. Great tips, and something I definitely need to work on. Maybe it's time to buy one of those egg timers...Lisa?...once blogged about on here.

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  16. I love your phrase, "Be Intentional." And I'm all about intentional fun. Once a month I schedule a crafting day with my Coffee Girls, and we spend the day laughing and having girl time. It's so important for my crazy schedule.

    I use To-Do lists and my calendar to help me to stay focused.

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  17. Paula~

    Thank you for another encouraging, inspiring, and fanny-booting post! I so appreciate the reminder to be intentional. There is so much I want to get done, and because I fail at intentionality, often a week will pass and I've accomplished nothing.

    Before my accident, I was an obsessive list maker. I LOVED to make lists and check off finished tasks. My to-do lists were usually very detailed, and almost always broken down into 15 or 30 minute blocks...almost like an appointment book. Ah, those were the days!!

    Due to the head injury, now that I really NEED to make lists to remember anything, I have absolutely no desire to do so. The list obsession, like my perfectionism and my ability to multi-task, is gone. It's really rather ironic. But I think you have given me the missing pieces of my puzzle: prayer and specificity. As you said, I need to prayerfully commit to specific time frames for specific goals. It's brilliant...just like you!

    By the way, what's an "iron?"

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