Acting with intention is an interesting notion. Intention—our ability to choose our response and act upon it—is our unique gift as human beings. We don’t just react, but can instead choose to act. The challenge is that we don’t always do so, and there are several ways that we undermine our ability to act and to exercise the agency that we theoretically enjoy. Understanding what compromises our intention, and knowing how to overcome those impulses, is essential to being able to take the steps that we most value.
Personal growth and development is not a cakewalk. Whether you have chosen the path—or had it inflicted upon you—embarking on change is complicated, stressful, angst-ridden and uncomfortable. It is the liminal journey come to life, although it doesn’t make it any easier to accept or process. For all the theoretical merits of changing, you are going to feel adrift, challenged and very likely incompetent. The desire to retreat to a safe and familiar place is going to be tempting. Nonetheless, there are strategies to make it through to the other side.
Your approach and appetite for learning says a great deal about who you are and how you approach your work and your life. We often view success as being defined by accomplishment—work done, status attained and accomplishment realized. In reality, much of satisfaction comes from actually doing the work, immersing yourself in experiences and challenges and formulating ways to realize accomplishment. Nowhere is this more true than in situations where success requires learning and growth.
Immersing ourselves in a challenge is one of the great joys of work. Finding situations that engage and stretch our abilities, and completing them successfully, can be a huge source of joy and inspiration. Despite this, it is easy to fall into ruts and fall back on routines. The creative solution that we critically engaged ourselves to find yesterday becomes the default and unthinking response today. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are strategies available to find engagement and inspiration, even in the most familiar of circumstances.
We are faced with a world of complexity. We also have a craving for simple and easy. Our brains and our psyches would really prefer to avoid the messy realities of the world and the inherent difficulty of trying to solve persistent and intractable problems. When faced with a complex problem, we will very often substitute a much simpler answer and pretend that is true. This is where simple gets very complex indeed.
Many of us find the complexity of the world difficult to manage. Particularly now, we want simple answers and easy solutions. We would like to take all the mess and awkwardness and shove it under a large enough carpet that it won’t see the light of day any time soon. That doesn’t work, sadly, and simple solutions expressed confidently aren’t a substitute for the messy, difficult work of muddling through and persevering. Embracing complexity requires work and effort; that starts with recognizing complexity for what it is.