What I Learned From a Year of Intentional Living

My word for 2017 was intentional.

I usually pick a word each year to anchor me into a certain intention. Like a mantra, I think about it throughout the year when I need to check my direction. Choosing the word intentional was about having more awareness around my actions and words and even thoughts – understanding that they affect more than just me, and more than just this moment.

Reflecting on last year, and as we’re already halfway through January now, I have some more perspective on my year of living intentionally. Here’s what I learned.

Being intentional doesn’t mean “having control over everything.” It just means having more clarity on what I can control. I honestly think the minute I resolved to be intentional in all my actions and words, the universe rushed to throw me off balance. Last year was easily the busiest year of my life, at work, in my side hustle and in my social life. So many things happened that I couldn’t have predicted. I see now that I wanted intentional to be my guiding word for the year in part because I needed boundaries. I wanted to be more effective, and I thought being more intentional would help, but really, what I needed was to just say no more.

Being intentional requires me to be present. This was a simple but v. salient learning! If I’m not in the moment, and present and grounded in my body, then I can’t think or act with intention. For me, this means mindfulness is important, and also, maintaining an idea of what’s really important. I wanted to commit to a proper meditation practice in 2017 but, tbh, it totally fell off the radar. I want to do this in 2018 because being present is where our power is.

Moving and talking slowly helps me so much (this is my mindfulness hack). In general, I move too fast. I forget why I am doing what I’m doing when I’m rushing around. I forget that I set goals. I forget I made promises to myself. When shit got hectic in 2017, I tried to take more pauses to stop and think – do I have to / want to, do this? Will something explode? Then: how do I want to do this? I need to remember I have a choice. If I move and talk slower, it makes me actually feel more intentional.

Simply “resolving to be more intentional” reminded me how much power I have. I definitely believe that what we put out, we get back. When I focus on how I put my energy into the world, it really does make everything seem…bigger. It’s sensitizing in a way. Focusing all my attention on the conversation I’m having with like, the guy at 7Eleven, say, makes that conversation so much more important. I’m the thing that made it that way – adding me. Everything is better that way!

What I focus on REALLY DOES grow. To my previous point, about bringing all my awareness to what I’m doing, this became a kind of tool for me in 2017. I’m a big journaller, and last year I discovered that when I spend time writing about what I want more of, I do get it. For example, I wanted to get better at reading tarot and start giving more people readings. I wanted more freelance writing gigs. I wanted to meet more like-minded creative friends. When I made a point to write about it, it happened. Bringing intention into my journal practice was really key.

I would say I definitely grew in the right direction, as a result of 2017’s word. I feel like a more intentional being, a little bit more secure in myself. This year, my word is confident. Bold, I know. I’ve already had some opportunities to put my confidence to the test, but I think the groundwork I laid last year could be helping. Maybe? We’ll see.

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