Choosing to Live Intentionally in 2018

Inner focus in the New Year

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

- Mary Oliver

I usually tend to be a goal-setter in the beginning of each year, sitting down quite purposely to set my goals as the new year unfolds. This year however, I decided to try something different and focus on intentions rather than goals.

Admittedly, goals are important, but I know personally that I can become much too goal-oriented and forget to be present in the moment. I have found that living intentionally is more peaceful and fulfilling than living in a goal-obsessed way.

Being more intentional helps me to focus on how I want to be in any given moment, no matter what else is going on around me. By focusing on my intentions, I am better able to stay centered; I don’t get as caught up in the roller coaster of whether I am getting things done and if I’m doing them ‘right’. It helps me to enjoy the journey and not get lost in getting to the destination.

David Emerald, author of TED — The Empowerment Dynamic, beautifully describes the differences between goals and intentions:

Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
Goals are external achievements. Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.

As I thought about this new focus, I received an email from my publicist, Joanne McCall. In her email, she quoted Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, and put forth 5 questions:

1. If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do and why?
 2. How would the world be different without you?
 3. What values do you stand for and what is worth fighting for?
 4. What five words would you want written on your headstone?
 5. What will you do this year that is worthy of future memory?

The timing was perfect. I got out my journal and wrote; focusing not on what I wanted to achieve, but rather on what I feel most passionate about; about my values rather than what I wanted to accomplish. These questions helped me focus on ideas that excite my spirit.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
— Oprah Winfrey

So what will Living Intentionally look like for me?

  1. Being quiet and focusing inward, checking in on how I feel rather than what I need to do.

What do I need, how do I feel? Focus in, don’t just react to what I should be doing, or what others expect me to do.

2. Trying to understand why

Look at what I’m doing and ask myself why I’m doing it. Ask myself what my intention is for each activity. Am I doing things out of obligation or love? When I understand my intention, it will help me do things with more joy and hopefully less fear.

3. Trying to live in flow rather than reaction

Finding flow is not always easy, it takes space and is usually intuitive. My intuition always guides me better than trying to reason my way, or worse, react my way through life. When I am in flow, life feels spacious and creative.

4. Moving away from micro-managing my life

When I’m feeling stressed and fearful, I tend to micro-manage my life (and often other people’s lives as well!) When I’m in flow and not trying to control, I can relax and not spend my time trying to figure out every detail. When I can move into a place of flow, I am so much more creative and open, and life just seems to go better.

So as 2018 unfolds, I invite you to take time to think about your intentions. Perhaps grab your journal and write about Rabbi Cohen’s five questions. Give yourself the space to listen to the call of your spirit.

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.
— Rumi
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