Intentionalism By: Abram Brown
What does it mean to be an intentionalist? To be intentional means to act purposefully with values, goals, or past experiences in mind. Our lives are made up of every decision and experience we have made up to this point.
Are you happy with the life you have now? Are you happy with the decisions that you have made?
Decisions create habits, habits make up character, and character makes up our conscious and then subconscious. It’s important to be intentional with the decisions we make as they will inevitably shape who we are as a person. Only we as individuals have to live with our decisions, it is important that we make decisions that are cohesive with our core values.
What are your core values? No one can answer that for you. It takes time and contemplation in order to understand what is important to you. Our friends and enemies can prod our minds with new and unbiased perspectives of ourselves. Yet there is often bias and a veil of ignorance to account for in their opinions that cant account for the things you hide within your subconscious.
A good first step to finding your core values is to remember past decisions that were made in your life and ask yourself: “why did I make the decision that I did?”…” what have been the consequences of that decision?”…” why didn’t I choose a different option”
If you can answer those questions and feel good about the answers, then you can be sure you are living an intentional life.
Let us take a look at a common example of an important decision that many people in the 21st century must make: “Do I go to college or not? If yes, where do I go and what do I study? If not, what career do I pursue?”
It is impossible to make these decisions objectively in a vacuum. Some people aren’t the best students and going could be a waste of money. Some majors pay better on average than others, and some majors are crowded and difficult to succeed in financially. College creates a financial burden that can trap you in a financial cage. Forced to work unsavory jobs simply because they pay enough to afford student loans in comparison to a job you actually want to do.
There are a lot of factors and variables that go into making this decision. Would it not be beneficial to have a kind of compass that helped point you in the right direction?
That’s where your core values come in: by knowing what’s important to you, you’ll be able to make decisions that align with your sense of right and wrong, overall turmoil resulting from making a decision can thus be reduced and comfort is found knowing that the resulting consequences, good and bad, are completely your own.
Let’s pretend you have two people represented via their top 3 core values:
P1: Freedom, Hardwork, Stability
P2: Intelligence, Ambition, Self Actualization
By looking at the core values of a person, the decision of whether or not to go to college is more clear.
P1 may find more success in a trade as college may not be conducive to stability post-college on account of tremendous debt. Because learning and intelligence are less important and a hard day’s work is more important: a blue color job may better suit this individual.
P2 may find more success in earning a college degree. Their focus on intelligence will allow them to more easily and readily earn their degree and their focus on ambition and self-actualization will set them apart in a saturated field.
Your core values are your compass: if you can identify them, decision making becomes easier. By being more in touch with yourself, your traits, and your values, you can start leading yourself in a direction that is mindful and as frictionless as possible.