This is my Grannie and Grandad. They're 87 years old, and have been married for 64 years. They've been through their fair share of struggles but they haven't lost sight of what is important to them, the things they value. And, they still hold hands [cue all of the heart eyes emojis].
I'm not sure that anything sums up being intentional better than their long-lasting and loving relationship. They inspire me to be more intentional in life and work, every day.
Being intentional has become a big theme for me, after feeling like some events in the last decade just happened to me, or were things I'd just gone along with.
There's nothing wrong with going with the flow, but being more intentional gives us an opportunity to think about what we really want out of our lives and our work. Intentionality supports us in building a life and business that is thoughtful, fulfilling and sustainable.
This approach can be slow, frustrating and scary, but it also feels really good and leads to increased feelings of contentment. To embrace it is to consider your values and your pace.
HOW CAN YOU BE INTENTIONAL IN BUSINESS?
UNDERSTAND YOUR VALUES
Defining your core values is a step that many business owners skip, overlooking it during the crazy / exciting / inspiring early days of creating their business.
But if you don't tune into what it is you really want and establish your business's values, how do you know if / when you go off track? How do you hold yourself accountable and ensure that you're building a fulfilling business for yourself?
I made the mistake of not really defining brand values first time around, which was fine for a time, but in the end meant that I needed to start again in order to feel truly in love with my work, and happy in myself.
Establishing core values enables you to develop a strong business, as you have a solid foundation to build from. And clarity around your values helps you to develop a cohesive, consistent and well-developed brand, that people can quickly understand and engage with.
In addition, your core values define what you stand for as a business and how you measure your standards. They help you to stay on track while making decisions, and they also help you to connect with your audience.
Finally, clearly defined values mean that you are able to spend less time worrying about what to do next, and spend more time actually doing it. By defining your values upfront everything flows more easily, from your goals to your messaging.
But how do you define your intentional business values? This often starts with your personal values. Your business is likely to be a reflection of you after all.
So what values feel truly important to you?
For example, the core business values for Be Stubborn include helping people, job fulfilment, courage, authenticity and being stubborn about overcoming obstacles through hard work and creative thinking. These values shaped my manifesto, and they fed naturally into my business model and client offerings.
If you're still struggling with this, then ask yourself: why do you do what you do?
And dig a little deeper by asking:
What are your goals?
What do you want to be known for?
What makes your business and brand unique?
How do you want your audience to feel?
Do you see any common threads emerging in your answers? If so, it's likely that these are your business values emerging. And ultimately, these are the things that will make you stand out and attract clients.
You can build up your business slowly, or you can start-up really quickly. I've done both. Be Stubborn is not my first start-up business, but it is the first one I have very consciously created, and truly thought through and been intentional about. You can read more here.
In my experience, building a business quickly involves:
being motivated by success (i.e. making money) rather than wanting to create an emotionally fulfilling business;
being prepared to be client-driven than values-driven.
There is nothing wrong with this approach unless it does not meet with your own personal values, in which case you'll might find yourself feeling unfulfilled, uninspired, and demotivated.
The risk lies in realising that your workload hasn’t been intentionally created, and the business foundation doesn’t match your personal values, meaning that it is not the right place for you anymore.
On the other hand, growing your business slowly gives you the opportunity to be mindful about everything you are creating. You’re more likely to be fulfilled by your work for longer; you’re building something sustainable.
Slow growth also gives you time to reflect, adapt and tweak your business as you and your business develops. You’re likely to grow as a person when building a business, and might find that this nudges your business in a slightly different direction too. But taking your time allows you to respond to this without going off-track.
HOW CAN YOU BE INTENTIONAL IN LIFE?
Generally, being intentional in business helps us to feel more intentional in life. The two are intrinsically linked, which is why many small business owners call upon their personal values when defining their business values.
A purposeful and intentional business can influence how are life looks, from ensuring that our work leaves space and time for travel, or family commitments, or other projects.
If you want to feel more intentional in life I recommend completing Danielle LaPorte's "Desire Map" exercise. You can find out more about that and download a free resource through Danielle's website.
This exercise helps you to get in touch with how you want to feel in different areas of your life, before consolidating this down into your three core desired feelings. And then when faced with a difficult decision or stressful situation, you just need to check in with your core desired feelings to see whether it will get you closer to them or not.
WHAT IF THINGS CHANGE?
What if you come to better understand your values in business and in life, get in touch with your core desired feelings, but within a few years life moves on and these things don't feel as important to you anymore?
That's ok. You are allowed to grow, and adapt accordingly. You are allowed to make changes - in fact I actively encourage that! For each season of your life, assess what is working and what isn't anymore. Consider where you want to be, and what step is required to move you in that direction.
Review [your situation], revise [your values], refresh [your approach].
Coaching can be help with this; supporting you to make changes for yourself, and / or start something new. It can help you to pivot and adapt. Life is long, it's a journey, and it would be a bit boring without any twists and turns in the road, so go with the flow.