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Intentions Are Thieves

It’s easy to get excited about your decision, and get caught up in the self-satisfaction of having finally acted on something that you’ve been meaning to get around to. However, intention is not the same as action. Decisions are not necessarily progress.

“With the help of intentions and promises, he maintains the honest impression that he is moving toward the good, yet all the while he moves farther and farther away from it. With every renewed intention and promise it seems as if he is taking a new step forward, but in reality he is only standing still, no, he is really taking another step backward.”  – Søren Kierkegaard


When you finally make an important decision with your work – one that perhaps you have been dreading or sweating over – it is a significant moment. It’s also a dangerous moment.

Why dangerous?

Because it’s easy to convince yourself that decision-making alone constitutes progress. It’s easy to get excited about your decision, and get caught up in the self-satisfaction of having finally acted on something that you’ve been meaning to get around to. However, intention is not the same as action. Decisions are not necessarily progress.

When you make a decision, you have to accompany it with an action, even if it’s a small one. You’ve only truly made progress when you take the first small, awkward steps in the direction of your decision.

Having decided, determine your next step on the spot. It might be a conversation, a task, a sketch, or something else that signifies closure. It might even be something as simple as sharing your decision with someone who can hold you accountable.

Either take that action immediately, or decide when you will. Let your resolve lead to forward motion.

Whatever you do, don’t allow the illusion of progress to rob you of the real thing.

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Last modified: December 1, 2022

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