Getting ‘Out and About’ with Intention

September 15, 2023


Those long-awaited in-person moments are finally beginning to resume. There’s weirdness, for sure, as event organizers and participants navigate ever-changing health guidelines and emerging social norms (if they can be called “norms”).

While the overriding feel during business events has been enthusiasm, attendance has been a bit on the low side. That’s to be expected, given the number of X-factors that must be considered before choosing to reengage in the physical environment.

Collective social anxiety may also be contributing to smaller numbers. Most people have interacted largely via their screens for over a year. Everyone is out of practice. Are the prospects of matching socks and mastering small talk too overwhelming for the perceived payoff of attending a conference, fundraiser or meetup? Could be.

There’s also the prospect of running into an individual who is experiencing the state’s reopening differently than you. You want to be respectful, of course. But what does that look like? If you come unmasked, do you mask up if someone wearing a face covering approaches?

No doubt these concerns merely scratch the surface of what’s going on in the minds of most Iowans. And the state isn’t out of the woods yet. Who knows what the next phase of the pandemic will bring?

Traveling through this chapter of the COVID-19 epic can be easier with crystal clear intention. To say yes to in-person invitations more confidently, you must first map out your “why.” Why do you want to attend and what do you hope to come away with? This may not work for everyone, but it certainly can help you decide which occasions are worth confronting the uncomfortable, albeit temporary, oddities of the current environment.

As it turns out, mapping intention can ease decision making in many different work and personal pursuits. Among other benefits, it’s a really great way to ensure you’re living a genuine life.

At it’s core, mapping intention helps avoid drift, a well-studied and documented happiness killer. Drift describes circumstances that come from people making decisions by not deciding. An example may be going to a golf outing this year because you’ve done it every other year (even though you hate golf). Or declaring a pre-law major because your mother was a lawyer and her mother was a lawyer (even though you aspire to be an artist).

One of the great silver linings of the pandemic was that, for many, it stopped drift right in its lumbering tracks. Society has been given the blessing of a cease-and-desist order on all things habitual. That’s not to say all habits are bad. Some are really good, and for people who derive success or joy from connecting with others in-person, getting out and about is not only a good habit, it’s a life-affirming one. The trick now is making sure you are out and about with intention, so that everywhere you go is a place you really want to be.

SPECIAL NOTE: Over the next few months, you’ll see some new faces in Bank Iowa’s DSM Wealth column. This is part of a bank-wide effort to amplify more voices from within our ranks.