Intentional

If I throw a heavy object at your head, you’ll duck or catch it or react in some way. You’ll do this even though you didn’t consciously decide to.

It was a reaction. An automatic response. Your brain runs these subroutines for you all day every day – you’d be dead in minutes if it didn’t. And while we should be thankful to our brains for this, we should be careful what we let slip into the grip of automation.

The Path of Least Resistance is a sincerely tempting one. But it leads to a dark place. Have you ever heard the phrase, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions?”

Let me adjust.

“The road to Hell is paved with no intentions.”

When you coast, you end up somewhere significantly less than desirable.

My father had this habit of driving wildly sub-optimal routes when going from point A to point B. He’d pick me up from school, and instead of driving the mile or so to our house down the straight road that connected the two, he’d take a sharp left and we’d drive all over town before ending up home. When I asked him why he did that, he’d smirk and say “I make the rules.”

He’d take weird turns because the standard route offered him nothing new. He wouldn’t see anything he hadn’t seen before, or learn anything new, or meet anyone interesting. He’d get lost on purpose to teach himself how to find his way back instead, embracing what appeared to be a sub-optimal choice in the short term because of what it did for his life.

Taking a job at your uncle’s company right out of college because you don’t have to work hard to get it (or even work that hard once you’re in it) can seem like the best choice. It might pay you better than comparable jobs you’d have to work much harder for. It might seem absurd to opt out of that arrangement, in the same way that it seems absurd to take a meandering, 5-mile route from my middle school to my house when they’re actually less than a mile apart and on the same road.

But my father never, ever got lost. In the days well before GPS or even MapQuest, my father’s sense of direction was flawless and his sense of adventure unflappable.

Live an intentional life, even if it involves weird turns and odd routes. Choose to make choices, not to let them be made for you. Take the path of most resistance, to build in yourself the ability to fight resistance when you have no choice. You can do it. You make the rules.

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