Action is the force that moves us from one place to anoth­er.  Action with­out inten­tion will get you some­where.  Action paired with inten­tion will get you where you want to be.  Would you rather get some­where or get where you want to be? Kind of a sil­ly ques­tion when you put it that way isn’t it?

Focused actionThink of action like fire.  It is great fam­i­ly fun to sit around a fire pit, sing songs, drink beer and eat s’mores. For your bon fire to have a hap­py end­ing, the fire has to be con­tained in the fire pit. If not, and the fire gets out of con­trol, it can dam­age your home or worse your loved ones. Fire can add joy to your life or cre­ate chaos. It is fire either way. The dif­fer­ence is in the con­tain­ment.

When you are in action, you are burn­ing your per­son­al ener­gy. Clear inten­tion is the con­tain­er for your per­son­al ener­gy and actions.  Inten­tion focus­es your activ­i­ty so that you are pur­pose­ful with your actions.  Those actions that don’t fit your con­tain­er fall away and thank­ful­ly nev­er get done.  When your actions are con­tained by your inten­tion, you use your life ener­gy in ways that are uplift­ing and ener­giz­ing. You cre­ate joy in your life.

If your ener­gy isn’t con­tained, or focused, it can cre­ate chaos, wear you out and make you sick and tired. Con­trary to every­thing you’ve been taught, the fastest, and most joy filled path to get­ting where you want to be starts with stop­ping!  Stop tak­ing action and be still for just a moment.

Clar­i­fy, what is my intent?   Until your inten­tion is clear, take no action.  Once you are clear, align your actions with your intent.   What you will dis­cov­er is this sim­ple process changes the course and improves the qual­i­ty of your deci­sions.

Here is an exam­ple from my own life, one where I lost focus on my inten­tion.  I start­ed my busi­ness in 1982 with the per­son­al inten­tion to stay engaged in my career while being at home as much as pos­si­ble with my daugh­ter.  My busi­ness intent was to help small busi­ness peo­ple use their finan­cial data to improve their results.  I saw my role as turn­ing data into wis­dom.  I admire busi­ness peo­ple because they put every­thing at risk every­day for their dreams.  My expe­ri­ence is that most busi­ness own­ers lack a back­ground in account­ing and finance and as a result, do not use finan­cial tools effec­tive­ly. This was the void I intend­ed to fill with my busi­ness.

I hung out my shin­gle and start­ed telling peo­ple about my vision and my busi­ness grew organ­i­cal­ly.  Three years in I had a nice home-based busi­ness that allowed me the free­dom to be a semi stay at home Mom and make an income sim­i­lar to my peers who worked full time.   I was liv­ing my inten­tion. The small busi­ness­es I was help­ing were thriv­ing and pros­per­ing. Life was good.

Then one evening my hus­band came home and told me he had resigned his job.  Fear set in imme­di­ate­ly.  We lived on our JOINT income.  We had a 3 year old.  What are you going to do I asked?  Take some time off and reflect he said.  This was not a com­fort­ing thought for me.

So… I sprang into ACTION!  I bought a small book­keep­ing and tax prac­tice and went from being a busi­ness finan­cial coach and prob­lem solver to a CPA firm.  My firm grew, pros­pered and I flour­ished finan­cial­ly.  My com­pa­ny became one of the largest CPA firms in Greater Cincin­nati.  We were win­ning awards and mak­ing head­lines.

I had got­ten some­where.  In fact, by any mea­sure, I had cre­at­ed an amaz­ing firm and was very suc­cess­ful.  In the process, I had com­plete­ly lost track of my inten­tion.  My life was com­plex.  I was fran­ti­cal­ly work­ing long hours and miss­ing out on time I had orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed to spend being a Mom. I was mis­er­able.

Final­ly, exhaust­ed and burnt out, I stopped doing.  I found a life coach, stud­ied the ennea­gram, took class­es on becom­ing more self-aware and in the process redis­cov­ered my inten­tion and my pas­sion.

Remem­ber the movie, City Slick­ers?    In one scene, Brun­no Kirby’s char­ac­ter, who is near­ing 40, and who feels he is at a dead-end laments, “I’ve wast­ed my life.” Bil­ly Crystal’s char­ac­ter tells him “Your life is a do-over.” “You’ve got a clean slate.”

This was my time for my do-over.   Focus­ing on my inten­tion, to con­tribute, con­nect and cre­ate pros­per­i­ty, I began mak­ing new choic­es and tak­ing new actions.  Actions aligned with my intent.  It was­n’t always easy and I am sure I con­fused more than a few peo­ple in my life, but it was the best deci­sion I ever made.  Slow­ly and sure­ly my life became what I intend­ed.  I was help­ing indi­vid­u­als and busi­ness­es cre­ate pros­per­i­ty and I felt great about my day, every day.  I worked few­er hours, had time for myself and my fam­i­ly, and took bet­ter care of our clients.  Every­one won, but espe­cial­ly me.

Mis­align­ment of inten­tion and action cre­ates hav­oc in finan­cial lives every day. I have seen clients who have no one depend­ing on them, buy large life insur­ance con­tracts. We all know of friends who love their kids and say they want to pro­vide for their edu­ca­tion, but save noth­ing, and don’t pre­pare their chil­dren for the irrev­o­ca­ble deci­sion of stu­dent loan debt. I have seen clients take a sin­gle life annu­ity pen­sion leav­ing their spouse in pover­ty at their death. Every day peo­ple every­where make finan­cial deci­sions and take action with­out the con­tain­er of clear intent. Just like the back­yard bon fire, the result may be great or it can just as eas­i­ly be dam­ag­ing. Fire and action both need a con­tain­er.

Let’s explore a real life finan­cial sto­ry (names changed as well as a few facts to pro­tect the inno­cent) that illus­trates this point of how impact­ful align­ment of inten­tion and action can be.

Sam was 63 and burnt out. He was ready for some­thing, any­thing, but stay­ing in his cur­rent job. Over the years he had used a vari­ety of bro­kers to guide him on invest­ing and by the time he came to see Mack­ey Advi­sors he had 40% of his nest egg in an emerg­ing mar­ket fund that had done excep­tion­al­ly well.

The fund was very volatile and while it had made amaz­ing advances very quick­ly, it often went through sig­nif­i­cant down­ward cor­rec­tions as well. Sam was very proud of this invest­ment and expressed his desire to retain this hold­ing in his retire­ment.

In The Pros­per­i­ty Expe­ri­ence, Sam dis­cov­ered his inten­tion, To redis­cov­er his pas­sion for liv­ing and con­tribute to his com­mu­ni­ty. His goals includ­ed time vol­un­teer­ing, being a part of the lead­er­ship of his faith com­mu­ni­ty and hav­ing more time for his grow­ing num­ber of grand­chil­dren. His most impor­tant goal was to retire as soon as pos­si­ble. The goal of retire­ment in the next six months moved from a nice idea to a burn­ing desire as Sam worked his plan. As Sam reflect­ed on his inten­tion, he because clear, con­tin­u­ing to work wasn’t pros­per­i­ty for him.

Sam’s invest­ments, which over the last few years were not rel­e­vant to his cur­rent cash flow, were sud­den­ly the key to his retire­ment. Sam was very lucky. The emerg­ing mar­ket fund he had pur­chased five years pri­or had deliv­ered for him. The oth­er side of the coin was, had this one fund not panned out as he had hoped, his dream of retire­ment would have been toast.

Based on his inten­tion and align­ing his invest­ment with that inten­tion, Sam sold all but a small por­tion of his emerg­ing mar­ket fund. Three months lat­er, the fund went into a down­ward spi­ral, even­tu­al­ly los­ing 40% of its val­ue. Sam was lucky. He aligned his invest­ments with his inten­tion, retired, and has suc­cess­ful­ly stayed retired through the great reces­sion.

By clar­i­fy­ing his pros­per­i­ty inten­tion and then align­ing his actions with it, Sam shift­ed in these ways:

  • At the begin­ning of his plan­ning process, Sam was emo­tion­al­ly invest­ed in his beloved emerg­ing mar­ket fund.
  • Sam’s inten­tion, To redis­cov­er his pas­sion for liv­ing and con­tribute to his com­mu­ni­ty, became his new emo­tion­al invest­ment.
  • His changed his focus and atten­tion to align­ing this goals and actions with his inten­tion.
  • Actions that had pre­vi­ous­ly seemed hard to take, such as sell­ing his emerg­ing mar­ket fund and diver­si­fy­ing it, because sim­ple, easy and wel­come as he clear­ly saw the path for­ward.
  • Stop­ping, step­ping back, and reflect­ing on his inten­tion, cre­at­ed an option for Sam to retire, stay retired and live the life of his dreams. With­out wor­ry!

Sam was very lucky. I have seen this sto­ry play out for the pos­i­tive and the neg­a­tive and it is heart­break­ing when some­one los­es their dreams because their actions were not aligned with their inten­tion.

Life is finite.  Time is a pre­cious com­mod­i­ty.  Step back, take a deep breath. Clar­i­fy your intent and align your actions with your intent.  Every moment is a do-over.  Every moment is a choice.  Every day can be our best day.  The path is sim­ple.  Align your actions with your inten­tion.

In joy,