Every January, my contribution to this magazine deals with New Year’s Health and Wellness Resolutions, or the new fitness trends projected for the upcoming year. For 2016, Spokane CDA Woman is allowing me to deviate for just a bit. This past fall, I kept hearing people talk about “living consciously,” “living purposefully,” “living intentionally” . . . and the more I heard, the more I was intrigued.
From what I understand, living an intentional life involves you carrying out each day with consciousness. When you’re living with intention, you do everything with a specific intent, which aligns with your core values. This involves clarifying your dreams, setting defined intentions, and crafting a lifestyle that aligns with your desires on a daily basis. Part of reconnecting with a life you love involves choosing an existence that aligns with your vision and desires. And since I want to love life, I said “sign me up.”
Here are 7 suggestions if you would like to test the “intentional waters” in 2016:
1. Know your priorities
Make space for the things that truly add value to your life. If attending a weekly group fitness class adds value to your life, in the sense that it helps you maintain your health, then make it a priority, and don’t deviate from it. The act of carving out the time, but moreover cementing it in your calendar, is an example of making an intentional decision.
2. Don’t aim for productivity 24/7
Stop trying to fill every waking minute of your day with something productive. We have a tendency to feel lazy, even guilty, if we aren’t busy “doing.” Assign some time (and stick to it) every day for being still—use it for prayer, meditation, journaling, listening to music, whatever you’d like. Just make sure while you’re in that time, that your cell phone and text/message notifications are “off.”
3. Single task
Although women pride themselves on being good multi-taskers, it is a huge energy zapper and not very efficient. Charles Dickens once wrote, “He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.” This is a life lived fully in the moment, with a dedication to doing the best you can in anything you do—whether that’s a work project or making a sandwich.
4. Become a noticer
Don’t live life with blinders on, moving so quickly that you miss the life happening around you. Too often we get caught up in our to-do lists, moving at the speed of light, that we also miss opportunities that are right in front of us. Try to incorporate this skill into your life in baby steps—next time you’re at a stoplight, instead of flipping through the radio stations or checking your phone, try turning to look at the car to the right and to the left of you, and then across the street, and then the pedestrians.
5. Plan your week
Plan a weekly meeting with just one attendee: you, where you assess what you accomplished from the past week, and plan for the next one. It’s important that you have a set time frame for tasks like going to the grocery store or getting something done for work. We tend to get distracted, so having a set time frame for each will help you stay focused. Also, consider creating fulfilling routines. This may be walking in the morning, talking with your spouse at the dinner table with the\television\off, working out, reading, meditating, etc.
6. Track your time
This is the hard part. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve probably tracked your calories. If you’re hip, you probably have a Fitbit that tracks your activities. But, we must start viewing our days, and the hours, minutes and seconds that are inside of them, like the precious commodities that they are. Adopt the repetitive motion of which lawyers make an art form and . . . track!
7. Define your vision
It’s really hard to live intentionally if you haven’t given any thought into what your mission, or vision, is. Write a mission statement. Make a vision board. Set some goals. Get super specific on what the heck you want to do with this year.
“But, Kate,” you ask, “what is your vision for 2016? How are you going to live intentionally?”
I’m glad you asked. I’ve decided to commit myself to a subject matter that has always been near and dear to my heart. It is going to require a lot of planning, but I am interested to see what affect being hyper-focused on this project will have on other aspects of my life.
Starting January, I am committing myself to only buy products and services from women-owned businesses for the entire year. I am doing this for several reasons—to highlight some of the great women-owned businesses out there, to do my small part in helping to grow these businesses, and to show that anyone can do this, as long as you just “shift your shopping.”
My future articles for this magazine in 2016 will revolve around this “social experiment,” if you will, and I plan to share some of the great women-owned business “finds” I will discover along the way. I hope that you will consider making your own mission for living an intentional life and follow me on my journey, as well.
Kate Armstrong’s great grandmother was an entrepreneur during the 30s, a time when women rarely owned businesses. Kate’s heritage, plus her former career as a Corporate Diversity Manager, has led her to make 2016 the year she will live intentionally by supporting women business owners. Follow her on various social media platforms and her blog: @IntentionalKate.