By nature of having both a seven and nine-year-old living under the same roof as me, I get the privilege of arbitrating many disputes.
“She hit me!” cries the young one. Or, “He knocked me down!” says the other.
When it’s a physical dispute, my next question tends to be, “Did s/he do it on purpose?” When the answer is “no,” it’s a quick resolution. An accident is easy to forgive and move past. When the answer is “yes,” that’s another matter entirely. When the action was intentional, it takes on a great significance and requires more attention.
From a young age, we are taught that doing things “on purpose” has greater consequences. And that accidents, at least in this context, are easily forgiven and forgotten. And yet, as grown-ups, we often leave very important parts of our life to happen by accident.
For example, what are your core values as an individual? What do you value more than anything else? Or, what does your perfect job look like? What kind of work would you be doing? Who would you work with? How would your work day look?
Or how about this one: What impact do you want to have on other people? How do you want them to feel when they are around you? How do you want them to remember you when they aren’t with you?
If I asked you write down the answers to these questions right now, could you?
In my experience, if you’re like most people, you would struggle to answer more than one of these questions with any sort of specificity. And, if I did force you to write down your answers, you’d be sort of making it up as you wrote.
Ponder that for a moment. Values. Ideal job. Relationships. All things that are critically important to a life of contentment, satisfaction, and happiness — left unclear to happen by accident.
How can you know how to spend your time or make big decisions in your life if you aren’t clear on what you value most? What chance do you have to make your way to your dream job if you don’t even know what it looks like? Why would you expect to have positive, affirming relationships in your life without giving any thought to how you show up for others?
It is when we decide to live our lives “on purpose” that we begin to set an intentional course towards those things that we most desire and hold as most important. By doing the work to declare your intentions and desires, you dramatically improve the likelihood that you will attain those things.
Ultimately, this is what the journey to authenticity is all about. It’s bringing an intention and purpose to all areas of our lives so that we might both give and receive more each day.
Life is a gift that we’ve been given to shape and make our own. Seize the opportunity.
This post originally appeared on Talent Anarchy.