The Death of Good Intentions
There are so many things I intend to do:
- Write blog posts twice a week.
- Save money.
- Give more to charity, often a specific charity.
- Get to know my neighbors.
- Write every day.
- Volunteer with a nonprofit.
- Send a thank-you note.
- Lose weight.
- Clean the bathroom.
- Get more articles published.
- Exercise more.
- Communicate more often with my extended family.
- Find additional business clients.
- Get another speaking postcard out.
- Send a note of encouragement.
What stops me? I have all sorts of excuses. Lack of time. Lack of energy. Lack of ideas. Lack of money. But the real problems are deeper than these. I have the same amount of time as my friend Lisa who, with preschoolers at home and a computer she must share, manages to blog regularly. I have more energy than some friends with chronic diseases who get books written or graduate degrees earned (not that I want one of those).
No, the answer lies more in the lack of motivation and the lack of accountability. I know that when I really want to get something done—like plan a vacation, for instance—I find the time and energy to do so, and I have plenty of ideas. And I also know that when I am being held accountable, I manage to accomplish whatever the task is. A writing project promised to an editor, an editing project expected by a corporate client, I dig into it and finish, early even. I never want to disappoint a client.
Two weeks ago, my friend Anne posted this on Facebook: “‘100% of the shots you don’t take won’t go in.’ (Wayne Gretzky) What shots do you need to take this week, friends? In your ministry, your business, with your relationships or even your prayer life. Want some accountability? Post it publically!” I took the chance and posted a business goal. And because it was out there, posted on Facebook, I set about doing it, completing it the same day. Shame is a powerful motivator for me, my friends.
So how can I use the power of accountability to accomplish not only the things I want to do but, most importantly, the things I believe God wants me to do, the things he created me to do. After all, Ephesians 2:10 says, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Maybe I should post on Facebook each day the “good works” I feel called to do. That way I’d have to own up to failing to do them. It would be pretty embarrassing to have posted on a Monday that I believed God wanted me to drop a note of encouragement to so-and-so and by Friday to have to admit I had yet to take the 10 minutes necessary to do it. And yet that delay (or even failure to follow through EVER) has been true in my life on many occasions.
Les likes to say that a lot of people seem to believe that saying they’ll do something is as good as actually doing it. But we know deep within it’s not true. And we are frustrated by our own lack of follow through. (Well, I am. Are you?)
What are your strategies for ensuring your good intentions—or even God’s good intentions through you—don’t end up as nothing more? I know all about setting measureable goals and giving myself deadlines. They just don’t often work for me. Without the goal and/or deadline stated publicly, without the fear of shame, I am unlikely to be self-motivated enough to do it. So maybe those public postings, and confessionals, should be the place I start.
What’s your secret to accomplishing what God has given you to do, big or small? Could you share it with the rest of us? (And if you never have trouble being self motivated, please don’t bother to comment; that will just discourage us mere mortals even more.)
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Carol has been blogging since 2005. Blog posts prior to 2010 can be found here.