The law of diminishing intent

Before you reach for your Statute book, I am not referring to a new law that, on first blush, has something to do with the law of negligence or some such like. No, what I am referring to is our (innate) ability to do things when we are burning read hot and our emotions are high as opposed to the normal stage of affairs where we leave things in abeyance – usually the moment passes quicker than you would think – and we lose that motivation and feeling and things just get put off. Perhaps you recognise this as procrastination but it is a fact that the longer you leave something undone (which you know you should do), the less likely it is that you will do it.

As lawyers we are often overcome by fear and that, very often, is the catalyst to drive us on to do something that we might not otherwise do; but our alacrity is very often dictated by how much pain we think we can handle. In other words, we think it won’t matter enough if we don’t do something when we know we should.

If you must defer from acting, then write down what it is that your internal voice has commanded you to do and which you know is important. I have bought a nice set of Moleskine notebooks which whilst not super expensive are reassuringly pricey so that when I commit to writing something down, I know it is valuable enough that I will have to revisit the page and do something about it. Usually, I tend to review my notes at least once a week (on a Sunday evening) but sometimes I might have a peek during the week. The thing is that writing it down provides a way of capturing that synaptic moment when you are engergised and that often – no nearly always – shines through enough for you to want to (finally) make it happen.

If you don’t capture the moment, then chances are you will forget what you said or committed to and that will lead to frustration (a) because your lost the thought or enough of it and (b) you will have no aide memoir to remind you to do it.

Of course you might be a list maker and you can record it in your latest incarnation but my experience is that very often our best thoughts come to us or appear when we least expect them and if we fail to act then absent a capture process you will simply expend a vast amount of mental energy thrashing around.

Oh and you may want to use a nice pen like a Mont Blanc. Again it makes the moment feel even more treasured and worthwhile to put into action.

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