In an interview right after winning this year’s PGA Championship, Rory McIlrory made an interesting comment about how he prepares for a new season. With his eyes set on the next major championship, the Masters, which is held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA in April of each year, he said, “The body of work I try to do between January and March of each season is all geared toward getting myself ready for Augusta.”

It was his reference to “The body of work” that caught my attention. That phrase is more typically used by artists or writers when talking about all of the work they’ve created in their career—their portfolio. So, it was interesting to hear a professional golfer use that phrase, and he used it so casually it was clear that it’s a normal way that he thinks about his career.

It’s about being intentional

McIlroy didn’t go any further in describing what he was referring to. Was it a specific exercise regimen? A review of how he has played Augusta in the past? Extra work on the types of shots required at that course? All of that and more? I don’t know.

Still, “body of work” may be a helpful, motivating way for all of us to think about our careers.

For young people just starting their careers, this way of thinking may lead to some strategic decisions about the types of experiences they need in order to do what they ultimately want to do. That may lead them to take a lower paying job than another if it provides the opportunity to gain important experience. Ultimately, those experiences and the repertoire of skills they develop along the way will become a valuable body of work.

For people further along in their careers, thinking in terms of their body of work may help keep their work fresh. It can be about pursuing different opportunities with their current employers to prepare themselves for a larger role, or taking night classes to stir some new thinking, learn about best practices in their field, and ultimately become more valuable to their employer.

If you’ve had many seemingly unrelated jobs over the years, your work history may seem like a random jumble of activities. But if you think about how God has used you in each job, what you learned in one role that helped you in another, and how your character was shaped, you may see a thread that ties it all into a cohesive story. That alone should be encouraging, and it may help you consider your next step with more clarity.

One other aspect of McIlroy’s comment I found interesting was that he was talking only about the first quarter of 2015. With his sights set on a second quarter tournament, he was thinking about all he needed to do in the first quarter to prepare.

An antidote to the drift of life

It’s all too easy to let one month slide into the next without thinking about what needs to be accomplished this month or this quarter in order for the most important goals of the year to be accomplished, or the most important areas of our lives to be improved.

To prevent that, ask yourself some key questions. How will the company I work for be more effective—more successful—a year from now because I was part of it? For that matter, how will my marriage be stronger? My parenting? My health? My relationship with God?

What body of work will I need to pursue each quarter in order for that to happen?

Sure, it’s very similar to, or perhaps part of, the process of goal setting. But I find “body of work” to be a bigger idea, and more motivating. A body of work is a collection of meaningful, intentional activities—a collection of goals accomplished in pursuit of a larger goal.

Have you ever thought of your career, ministry or other area of life in terms of a body of work? If not, how might it be helpful to you?