Saturday, April 7, 2012

Be Intentional

A lot of people have contacted me about my posts on "The Little Things" so I thought I'd write a bit more about that.  I think that one of the biggest ways to make the little things count is to be intentional.  By that, I mean act with purpose

Until somewhat recently, I was always someone who was very goal-oriented and focused on "the next step."  I went to one of the best high schools in the country (#28 on this list), graduated from 
Cal (#21 on this list) with a double major and minor in three years, and and got into several Top 10 schools in my field for grad school.  I graduated near the top of my class in grad school, got a good job doing something meaningful (I worked at a non-profit that designs and develops green affordable housing), and managed to play for teams that attended College Nationals (x2), Club Nationals (x3), and Worlds along the way.

Being driven and having life direction were never a problem for me.  And I say that with absolutely zero pride because all of these "accomplishments" mean very little to me, especially given where I am now.  But I give you this bit of life background so that you have some context for what drives me.

Dropping out of college for two years (a story for another day) helped me gain a bit of life perspective, but Club Nationals 2009 was the real wake up call for me.  My mom called me the night before our Quarterfinals game against Brute Squad with some serious health news.  When you get a call like that, suddenly nothing else matters.

A year later, I quit my job in Austin and moved to Boulder.  A few months ago, I packed up all of my belongings, drove across the country to store them in a friend's garage, and then hit the road, unsure of where life would lead me.  Many people have asked me what I'm doing with my life.  And for perhaps the first time ever, I honestly don't know. 

I am far from having a master plan for life, but I know that I want to love people and give freely to them.  And I know myself well enough to know that 
I can't be the teammate, leader, friend, or person I want to be by chance.  Being on the road, away from my family and friends, for the past few months means that taking steps toward becoming the person I want to be requires considerable effort.  I've realized that when I get busy or stressed, I can have the best of intentions, but my focus always shifts to the urgent instead of the important.  This is where being intentional comes in- it's a way of refocusing.   

To be a bit more concrete and tie it back to frisbee, my last season as a college captain, I wanted all of my players to feel loved and supported.  As with most teams, there was a handful of players I was very close to, and then an entire other group with whom I had very little in common.

From my written list of goals for that season:

1. Be a good teammate and captain- know what my teammates need from me and help them grow as players and people both on and off the field.

Over the course of a season, it's so easy to get caught up in the wins and losses, countless workouts, and practice and travel planning.  So in order to accomplish this goal, I knew I had to be intentional with the little things.

I committed myself to doing the following:

1. Writing each of my teammates a monthly email checking in and telling them at least one thing I valued about them as a teammate.
2. Hanging out with each of them, on their terms, at least once during the season.

I wrote previously about how over-focused I was on the team goal of qualifying for Nationals.  Writing those emails to my teammates and hanging out with them on their terms were a bit of a check for myself, a reminder to me that it's the people, not the goal or the end result, that matter.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

If you know what you want to accomplish, then take the first step.  Be intentional with the little things.


  1. Awesome. concrete achievable steps to make sure you do what is important and to know you have done something right even if people want to keep you from thinking that. thank you for sharing and good luck with everything.

  2. Thanks Evi. Being intentional has been huge for me in terms of trying to prioritize the important over the urgent. I think your comment also touches on a sub-point of this post... how do we measure success? :)