As you may already know, what started as an attempt to cope with my anxiety has since morphed into an obsession with all things personal development. I read self-help books, I watch inspirational videos and I listen to a bunch of podcasts, including my favourite: “Super Soul Conversations” by Oprah.
I’m constantly trying new things – meditation, journaling, vision boards, you name it. Last week, I decided to get crafty and try living intentionally.
In its most basic form, living intentionally means realizing that your life is made up of choices. Every morning you have a new opportunity to pick your attitude and decide what you want to do, feel and achieve that day.
Curious to give it a try, I cut up 20 pieces of paper and wrote a different intention on each one. Examples include:
- I intend to make healthy choices.
- I intend to do my job well.
- I intend to make someone smile.
- I intend to learn something new.
- I intend to lead by example.
I then put the pieces of paper into a glass bowl and used funky foam letters to write the word “intentions” on one side. Once I was satisfied with my art project, I placed the bowl on a table by the front door and committed to picking out a single intention every day for a week.
Each morning, as I put on my coat and walked to the subway, I repeated the intention in my head.
Intention: I intend to learn something new.
Results: I was watching an Oprah clip (surprise, surprise) and listened to her reference Maya Angelou for what seemed like the millionth time. I know about Maya Angelou, but having accepted my intention for the day, I decided to find out more. I set a timer for 20 minutes, did an extensive Google search and came out with two pages of handwritten notes. From her given name to her first husband to how she spent her 70th birthday – I learned it all. Did you know she was the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco (1970) or that she was the first African American woman to have her screenplay (“Georgia, Georgia”) produced? I didn’t, but now I do.
Intention: I intend to do my job well.
Results: I’d like to think I always do my job well so I was little hesitant about this one. As it turns out, those seven words inspired me to do my job even better. It all started in the morning when I found myself taking extra time to get ready; I even put on a blazer which is a big deal for a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I paid more attention during meetings, I responded to emails immediately instead of flagging them for later, I updated trackers that had collected dust and I decided to write an article about living intentionally for our internal newsletter.
Intention: I intend to be kind to myself and stop negative self-talk.
Results: Having stayed up late the night before, I woke up in the morning feeling tired and disappointed. I walked around the house shaming myself for being the world’s worst sleeper. I half-heartedly picked out my intention for the day and immediately stopped the negative self-talk. I had stayed up late because I was so intrigued by the book I was reading. “That’s not too bad of a reason,” I said. I then complimented myself for being such a bookworm to begin with, forgave myself for the night owl tendencies and decided to work on them going forward.
All that, and it was only Wednesday.
The rest of the week followed the same pattern. I’d pull out an intention and repeat those words in my head until I had them memorized. As I went through the motions of my day-to-day life, my thoughts and actions were in alignment with my intention.
The intentions I had written down were all things that I’d identified as important for my personal well-being so, of course, I was eager to make them a reality. As the week went on I felt happy, confident and far more productive. I also felt a sense of call knowing that with each conscious decision, I was becoming the person I’ve always wanted to become.
I even got my roommate to try it out. She’s not as into self-help as I am, but she’s a good sport so she rolled with the punches. She picked intentions like, “I intend to express gratitude” and “I intend to trust the process.” Given that she’s in the midst of a job change, her intentions seemed oddly relevant.
Though my week-long experiment is now complete, I plan to keep that intention jar front and centre, adding and removing intentions as I change and evolve as a person.
Your mind is a powerful tool, friends. Decide who you want to be each and every day. Then go ahead and be that person.
As Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude."