There you are — drifting along in life. No matter how hard you try to focus, you keep getting sidetracked.

With everything on your platter, it may seem like it's all you can do to get to the bottom of your to-do list. And then it feels like you're just existing, rather than really living your life.

Is there an app for that?

WHAT are you doing — and WHY?

If this sounds familiar, you may have a touch of Intention Deficit Disorder (IDD). This is the difference between what you intend to do and what you actually do.

While not a formal diagnosis, IDD is a condition that is best defined by not recognizing why you do something, according to authors Bill Hartman and Todd Lieman. A key symptom is an ongoing tug on your soul that you're always spinning your wheels — and getting nowhere.

You may be spending much more time on the "whats" on your list than the "whys" — just going through the motions until a sense of numbness catches up with you and exhaustion sets in. You're not sure why. It just seems like such a whirlwind.

Do you have good intentions?

Without intentions, goals are easily blown off. "Intentions define you," says Lieman. "They define your actions. They define your needs. When you understand and acknowledge your intention for some action — whatever it may be — your goals are more likely realized."

Why is this so? The theory is you're willing to work harder toward meeting your goals because you understand exactly why you need to:

  • You endure years of schooling because you've always wanted to be a doctor.
  • The fulfillment of a newborn baby helps you make it through those middle-of-the-night feedings.
  • The dream of winning a major championship drives you to endure grueling workouts and practices

While these are mega goals, you can also use this same motivation when you get stuck in the everyday grind. I'm certainly not suggesting you micro-analyze every action. Just keep the end game in mind.

Warning: You may uncover a "dark side" to your actions. If you're doing something out of vengeance — or to manipulate a situation — you may want to take a hard look at why. And adjust your gears.

Are you creating your life, or reacting to life?

Check this out: The words "creation" and "reaction" have the exact same letters. If you can hold the vision that your life is either a creation or a reaction, this can serve as a reminder to be creating, rather than just drifting along.

You can spend your entire day reacting — without even being aware of it. You wake up reacting to the feelings in your body. Then you react to the news. Next you start reacting to your spouse or children. Soon you get in the car and react to traffic.

Once at work, you react to an email on your computer, a comment from a co-worker or an insensitive client. During a break, you react to a server at lunch. This habit of reacting can go on all day, every day, if you're not careful.

There's another way of approaching life, though. You can design your own life game plan — and let the game respond to you, rather than the other way around. Sure, you'll have to be open to contingencies. These can be the exceptions, though, rather than the rules.

Bill Walsh, the late former head coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, was viewed as eccentric because of how extensively he scripted his plays. While most coaches have plays in mind and wait to see how the game unfolds, Walsh would pace the sidelines with a big sheet of plays that his team was going to run, no matter what. He wanted the other team to respond to him.

While his approach was quite unorthodox, Walsh certainly won his share of Super Bowls! And all he did was act on the crucial difference between creating and reacting.

To avoid getting caught in "the drift," it's helpful to have a blueprint - a road map to remind you of the "whys." If you're going through any type of transition right now, there are lots of tools available that can help you create your blueprint. A couple of books that have come across my radar lately are "Reinventing Yourself," by Steve Chandler, and "Reinventing You," by Lisa Lockwood.

Reality check

Some pleasant side effects come with this approach to life. As you take more responsibility for your actions (or inactions), you start to feel more in control. You experience fewer instances of overwhelm.

Because of current life circumstances, some of you may feel too discouraged right now to start on a new course of personal motivation. Or too angry. Or too upset about certain problems or people.

However, this could very well be the perfect time. Deliberately creating your life inspires the energy of purpose. Intention Deficit Disorder can keep you from being your best self. If you come from a place of insecurity instead of intention, you end up doing things because you should, not because you need to. Then your priorities get all out of whack.

The good news is, IDD can be solved with a simple reality check:

WHY am I doing this?

WHAT is my intention?

The more you apply this simple principle, the better focused you'll be. Sometimes it's hard to be honest with yourself about the reasons you're doing — or not doing — something. That's a major reason procrastination sets in. It's also the core to getting over IDD.

And we all need to get over it!

2019 Linda Arnold Life 101, all rights reserved. Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and founder of a multistate marketing company. Reader comments are welcome at linda@lindaarnold.org. For information on her books, go to www.lindaarnold.org or Amazon.com.

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