Being Intentional


What does it take to make a positive change in your family- A Vision? A defined Purpose? The Desire? While all these are certainly helpful and have their place, they alone do not make change happen. It takes more than pure desire to make the picture in your head come to life. It takes intentionality.

Being intentional is what takes your “maybe someday” to today. It turns thoughts into actions. Without intentionality, the vision and desires you have for your family are just a wish.

Let’s face it, doing life together as a family is tough. Generational sin, relational issues, and complacency continue to tear families apart. Family members are also becoming more isolated, with members focusing on their own entertainment and escape. Social media and the ease of connection through personal devices have done more to separate people, than to fulfill its promise of bringing people together.  If you are unsure about that statement, then the next time you go to a restaurant stop and take a look around. Compare the number of families you see engaged in conversation with one another to the number of individuals who are checked out and isolated by their engagement with a device (phone, tablet, tv, etc.).

How do you fight against the things that are fighting against your family? Intentionality. Deciding that “normal” is no longer going to be the norm for your family. Planning to be something different and doing the work to make it happen. Being intentional is making a decision and doing the actions that make the decision a reality; and repeating them until it becomes a part of who are you are. Intentionality is not simple or easy. In fact, disappointment, learning, and trying again is all part of the process.

Being intentional starts with the end goal in mind. What is it you want for your family- conversation around the dinner table? Respect and kindness for one another? Being able to be in the same room for longer than a few minutes without arguing? Whatever it is, get a picture of that in your mind and then begin to think backwards to discover the steps needed to get you to those goals.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  — Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Once you know the steps needed, put them into practice by starting with step 1. This is where the intentionality comes in. You have to do those steps, on purpose. Without intentional actions, these goals go back to being just wishes. It will be hard. You will experience disappointment when things don’t go as planned. You will need to be intentional with how you think about those disappointments. Are they failures and the end of your goal or are they learning experiences that will help you do better the next time? Don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is learning.

If this is new to you and your family, start small. Think about those small changes that will make a big difference for your family. Have a family meeting and ask your children what they think. Don’t worry if they look at you like you’re off your rocker! Seek their input and genuinely listen to their responses; they just might surprise you. Plan together what can be done to make these changes and put them into practice. Gently hold one another accountable as you practice these changes. Before you know it, the desired change will become your new reality.

As you gain confidence with these small changes, then you may feel ready to take on something bigger. What is it you desire for your family? The same old thing or something different, better? It can happen with intentionality.

Next steps: Be intentional by planning a date and time to have a family meeting then following through within the next week. If this is new territory, plan something small- like a family movie/game night or dinner for the next week. Make a plan together to put it into place, assigning each family member a role in making it happen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Brandon Jackson, Manager of Children and Family Services at Cookson Hills, is from Indianapolis, Indiana and enjoys a good meal, playing games, and spending time with family and friends. Brandon has been at Cookson Hills since 2011 and has prior experience as a houseparent and social worker.