Changing the world is hard work. It’s kind of like training for a 5K and showing up to learn it’s actually a Tough Mudder race. It was already going to be strenuous, but now you must depend on working with other people through obstacles you haven’t even prepared for. The outcome will be a collaborative accomplishment. Integrating intention, focus and environmental design into your goal-setting strategy will make the process of change-engineering in your life, community or business easier, more enjoyable and manageable.
What are some goals you’ve set to make the path of change-engineering possible? A clear starting point: knowing why you are changing the world, is helpful! If you want some inspiration before we get started, review our finding your why post here.
How to Begin
Make yourself two lists. One can be anywhere from 5-25 things you need to do over the course of your career or life to change the world. The other list should be choices you have made that delivered you to right now. This can include obtaining a graduate degree, attending workshops or volunteering in areas you envision uplifting through change.
Look at your choices list whenever you feel crummy about now not being enough. Change-engineering requires patience, so be patient with yourself!
Now, from the 25 goals on the first list, pick out 1-5 that are most important.
Intentions keep us focused as we carry out our goals. They root us in the moment, whereas our goals may be longer-term accomplishments.
What is your intention in changing an aspect of the education system? Why is implementing self-care into your core-values part of changing the world? How do you want to uplift a neglected or under-served community?
Yogis often advise their students to “set an intention” for their practice. A good yoga practice relies on maintaining connection between body and breath. If you are in a warrior pose and it hurts, the mind easily defaults to, “You can’t do this, you can’t even touch your toes,” instead of, “Breathe into the stretch.”
We talk ourselves out of what we are capable of by losing connection to our goals. An intention tethers us to them.
When the brain strays from the breath, or the path from the goal, return to your intention.
Maybe your intention is staying present, when it is so easy for the mind to run wild with what if’s and how long’s. An intention of patience can accompany a goal that requires a season or more to accomplish.
We all focus differently. Focus is not necessarily tunnel-vision, as much as a continuous awareness of something. It can also be something we do prior to public speaking, like meditation, to focus the intention and move forward confidently and calmly.
Focus by engaging. What events occur on a weekly or monthly basis that attract people you want to network with? Go to them. If your goal is growing your network and your intention is to be outgoing, finding events to focus these efforts will assist in achieving your goal. Interaction generates feedback and we get better through revision. Every time you have a powerful, inspiring conversation with another change-engineer, you gain momentum or insight that gets you closer to your goal.
Focus by researching. Become an expert! Who are the leaders in your industry? Which companies are partnering with their communities to create local change? Find out the history of and current trends in your field. Keep books in your car or bag, one on the nightstand and the ledge of the bathtub. Create an environment to support your role as a change-engineer
You are changing the world and need all the help you can get! Transforming your environment to support your efforts will maximize your success. Environment impacts behavior. It encourages or distracts you. We’re not going to tell you to put a salt lamp in every room or burn peppermint oil to stimulate concentration, but it can’t hurt.
Minimize distractions that are not helping you make the changes necessary to achieve your goals. Not only can you unplug the TV, you can put that thing in another room. Unless you’re streaming TED talks or documentaries, your viewing time is likely a black hole to procrastination.
Place things around your physical space to remind you of what you’re working toward. Dry-erase markers are a great ally in this effort! Write yourself notes on windows, sliding-glass doors, the shower walls. Draw yourself encouraging cartoons, affirmations and quotes. Use a window to accumulate suggested podcasts, experts and other change-engineers in your field.
You can change the environment you are in when you receive information, too. Next time you listen to a podcast, leave the house. Go for a walk through your neighborhood or find a nearby trail.
Change-engineering involves setting goals that transform and uplift communities. We set them because there is work to be done to level the playing field for everyone. It is a long process that can include many set-backs. To stick with it, modify your goals by setting an intention, focusing through connection and research, and designing your environment to support your vision.