Written by Haley Rafferty

Gone are the days of doing something just for the sake of doing it.

I’m talking about things like checking a box, buying the cheap thing that we know will break in a year, choosing something that is ‘good enough’ or doing something we just feel ‘meh’ about.

Coming out of the pandemic, many have lost the taste for thoughtlessness. Life is too short – family is too precious – dollars are too scarce. If we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it right, and with intentionality. 

We’re seeing this within corporations around renewed ESG efforts, in nonprofits as donors require more information and engagement around what their investment is doing and, hell, even Tik Tok is telling us to romanticize doing our chores at home to build meaning behind a previously mindless (or dreaded) task.

All of these things tie back to intentionality. Adding meaning behind what can easily be mindless, or thoughtless actions. Intentionality should be in everything we’re part of, just like how wherever you’re going, the North Star is there as a guide and reminder that you’re not lost.

Here are NOT intentional reasons to do something:

  • It’s the way we’ve always done it
  • I saw someone else do it
  • It should be done this way
  • It’s easiest this way

Here are some intentional reasons to do something:

  • It feels right
  • It aligns with my values and goals
  • I am serving/ benefiting others
  • I’m making a difference in the world
  • I want to do this

Intentionality also builds a strong backbone. To quote the beloved musical Hamilton, “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?”

By asking yourself (or your company), “why am I doing this? Why does this matter? Why should I care?”, you build a strong connection to and purpose behind your actions. You will be able to give clear answers when your actions get questioned and the relationship between your actions and values will crystalize. If you practice doing this for even the smallest things it will eventually come naturally and effortlessly.

At the end of 2022, Next Stage made a commitment to doing 3-4 team service activities every year as a chance for us to give back to our community and the organizations that we love. From the outside, it might seem a little confusing. Our whole business model is based on being catalysts for social good and change. You’d think we would be sick of it! But this plan for service activities is personal. Everyone on our team cares about others, has a passion for philanthropy and is just an overall good person. We have been intentional about scheduling these service activities because it feeds our soul as a company and builds culture. It’s important to our goals and values both individually and as a business. Plus it’s fun and it feels right! (remember that list above?)

Of course, there will be times in our lives when we have to do things that we don’t want to, or even don’t agree with. Usually at work or when working on a team with varied values and priorities. But I challenge you to still find the intention behind it. Maybe it’s a value of yours to work hard, and therefore you complete the work task that you’d rather do a different way.

Sometimes the sky clouds over and we lose sight of that North Star. We can’t always be our best selves, and we can’t always devote the time or energy to intentionality. I hope you take comfort and are motivated to know that cloudy skies are temporary. The North Star is always waiting just behind to be in full view again.