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Closing the intention-action gap

January 13, 2020

Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
— Miyamoto Musashi

Have you ever set up goals, or intentions, and started strong on your path trying to reach them, only to get lost along the way? How many times we've gotten started on things like:

  • A new exercise routine, or diet plan, to get to that dreamed six-pack.
  • A book we've always been wanting to write.
  • A new side-project we think might generate another source of income for us.

All these are valid intentions and respectable goals! There is just one issue with focusing only on goals: it does not last. Why? Because focusing solely on goals does not help when life gets hard, and the goal still feels far away, but you're giving it all to accomplish it.

You can be working long hours to get that book or that side project ready, but you are going to be tired, and unexpected issues and roadblocks will appear your way. You can start on a very restrictive diet, but the changes in your body (or your fitness goal) might only appear months or even years after you started.

Focusing on goals lead you into a daily grind where you're comparing your day-to-day against that ideal outcome, only to fall short on that comparison day after day. It can be devastating. It can lead you to give up, thinking you won't accomplish your goal ever.

What if there was an easier way? What if we transformed those goals into something accomplishable every day, something that moved us closer and closer to our goals, and yet we could celebrate at the end of our days?

  • You can reframe your fitness goal to exercise every morning, and eat healthy. Did you exercise today? Check. Did you eat a healthy, wholesome meal? Check.
  • You can commit yourself to write 500 words a day. Crank it to 1000 if that's too easy for you. Most books are around 80,000 words long. That's half a year of writing just 500 words a day!
  • Focus on a single task that moves the needle on your side-project every day. Realizing that you're moving the essential things forward helps with motivation in the long run.

Reframing goals this way is also a sure way to hit those goals while celebrating every step. It is closing the intention-action gap. You could set up any goal, any intention, but if you are not able to break it down into daily accomplishments, you are making it much harder for yourself.

Momentum is created with small steps. The snowball effect is real.

Have you set up any big, hairy goals lately? Try reframing them in this way. Send me a message if you struggle doing so, I'm here for you!

Balancing the Grind With Miguel San Román, Senior Product Engineer at Buffer


I've been interviewed in Balance the Grind! I feel honored to have been invited to share my thoughts and experience on work/life balance and what it all means for me, as well as how I apply it to my day-to-day life.

It would mean the world to me if you read it, share it with your friends if you liked it, and feel free to send over any comments you have or if it sparked any thoughts about your own work/life balance perception!