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  • Writer's pictureMatt Powell

Being Intentional

A few years ago, I felt like my life was out of control.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing majorly wrong. But I was just far too busy! It seemed like I was being pulled along by the world and other people’s priorities.

I had two mobile phones. One for work and one that was personal. They would constantly ping or ring and I was bombarded by messages, emails and interruptions that stole my attention and distracted my flow.

Then around August 2019 I took a big step. I mothballed my smartphone and bought a new generation Nokia 3310 online.

When it arrived, it was like going back in time!

The phone has basic internet and that is it. You can load facebook if you really wished but it is a massive faff.

The phone has no capacity for whatsapp or messenger and so it forces you to either text or call. In fact texting is so longwinded it is often easier to call.

So guess what….. I actually speak to people more! (Oldschool 😊)

A few days after it arrived I was sat at my sons football training when one of the Mums spotted my phone. ‘Oh my god’ she pronounced. ‘What on earth is that?’.

I explained that I had realised I was getting distracted from the important things so I had decided to no longer own a smartphone. ‘But what if you need to contact someone’ she asked…… ‘uumm… I’ll call them’ I replied trying my best not to sound extremely sarcastic. (I think I failed).

It really struck me that day just how many parents were staring into their phones while their kids trained. I had opted to take a book and read. Consequently, I read during the training and watched the match at the end of the session. I was present and only thinking about the moment.

Previously when I had purchased a phone upgrade my contacts had automatically updated. This is not the case on the Nokia. To add a contact you have to manually type each one in and the phones memory is limited to a few hundred inputs. I literally had a thousand or more on my old iphone.

So, I made a decision.

I would put my immediate family and closest friends’ details into my phone and then add other contacts as and when I needed to message them or they contacted me.

I very quickly discovered the people I held dear and who in fact were in regular contact with me. I think I now only have around two hundred people’s details in my phone.

When I got the phone, I found it interesting how it angered some people. My brother-in-law Glen told me I would only last two weeks. Well, I am now approaching three years.

I genuinely prefer not having a smartphone.

My phones memory capacity serves as a powerful metaphor for how I was previously living my life.

I had a great deal of contacts and various people would interrupt my day. It may have been a quick question, a comment or a joke. But I certainly don’t miss the various Whatsapp groups pinging every five seconds.

Now I appreciate that you can choose not to install apps or indeed turn off notifications, but I have found that I operate much better if I completely remove the temptation.

Back in 2019 I was allowing interruptions and then reacting to them. I wasn’t managing my life very well at all. But then I watched a documentary on Netflix about Minimalism.

I had wrongly thought that being a minimalist was akin to living in a sparce apartment with few possessions and wearing the same clothes every day. I actually discovered it is more about being intentional about possessions, relationships and thoughts and feelings. It is about choosing what to allow into your life and then conversely what to reject or remove.

Ever since I have been learning the freedom of living an intentional life.

Consequently, I feel like I am open to understanding, processing and then implementing different ways of thinking and ultimately living.

Previously I had created many barriers as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t teach karate as a full-time profession.

One of the beliefs I held was that in some way I would be labelled a ‘sell-out’ or someone who ‘only does it for the money’. I cringed at the thought of anyone considering me someone who treats students as ‘a pound note’.

During lockdown I realised that similar to the limited connections offered to me by my phone I could chose who I wanted to work with, connect with or teach. I suddenly realised that if I were intentional about this that then I could offer genuine value and any critics would probably sit outside of the scope I wished to connect with.

I don’t crave fame or fortune as a karate man. I just want to keep getting better and to inspire my students to do the same.

A few years back I had watched a documentary on session musicians from the 1960’s and 70’s called 'The Wrecking Crew’. It is no longer on Netflix but last weekend I found it in its entirety on youtube. (I will pop a link at the end of this blog).

The documentary is amazing as it captures a collaborative and creative spirit and respect. The artists featured greatly admire each other and their skill is amazing. These guys were the actual artists on pet sounds by the beach boys, the various hits of the Monkees and various other amazing tracks not recorded by the artists on the album sleeves.

The main focus of the documentary is a guitarist called Tommy Tedesco. He was responsible for the theme tune to Batman in the 1960’s, the theme of Bonanza and recorded for many many inspirational artists of the time.

While I was watching this back I heard Tommy discussing reasons he would take the ‘gig’. He expressed that he would either do it for:

· The Money

· The connections

· The experience


· Just for fun!

I thought that was amazing and refreshing to hear.

I realised that taking an opportunity or work it is fine as long as you are intentional. You must be clear on ‘Why’ you are doing it.

Whilst I would like Money to be the last priority, we all ultimately have bills to pay. I think it is more important that it is not the ONLY priority.

I have realised that before I rebooted in 2019 I was not intentional about anything. I was doing everything I possibly could when asked by others to do it.

I wasn’t happy!

It wasn’t MY life I was leading.

I was just fulfilling obligations for others.

.... That could have been as simple as responding to a pinged message whenever it was sent.

Not having a smart phone is often very inconvenient.

There are days when I would benefit from having data to hand and the ability to quickly look something up on google.

But convenience is not always of benefit!

I have to plan better. I have to think ahead. I have to be intentional.

And if you are important to me…. I have to have your details in my phone.

(Here is the link to the wrecking crew documentary)....

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