It’s the dawning of a new year! And although the sun will rise just as it has for endless days before, this morning seems a little brighter, a little more hopeful because it is the beginning of something NEW!
But do you know what that “something” is?
This full month of January I’m going to dedicate to a blog series on intentional living. Everyone wants to create a better life (it can always be better, right?), and I want to give you the tools you need to create that life. It’s less complicated than you might think. With a little focus and effort, you can make this year worth celebrating!
Plenty of people have good intentions for their year and most of them will get swept up in benign daily challenges and forget those intentions within a few weeks. Does this sound like you? When the year comes to a close and those “Year In Review” videos pop up all over social media, does it dawn on you that you never accomplished your goal or “resolution?” Did life seemingly happen to you, rather than you taking command of your life? This kind of living will eventually leave you feeling powerless, inadequate, and deflated.
“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” – Proverbs12:24
Resolutions are good for little more than nice conversation starters for the first week of a new year. It is continuous, intentional living that will bring about lasting change and confidence. It will give you momentum to create an impact even greater than you first imagined.
Living intentionally takes focus and effort – just those two little things. How hard you are willing to push yourself in your focus and effort is up to you. If you desire to change a deeply ingrained habit or belief, you will need much more focus and effort than a cursory endeavor. Some of you may need a lot more focus than effort and vice versa. It will depend entirely upon your relationship with what it is you wish to change.
Steps for Intentional living:
1. First, choose your destination. This is the hope you have for yourself (and only yourself) in the next year. Some people like to use the words “goal” or “resolution”, but I find “destination” has a more final ring to it. There is less room for doubt and back-tracking if I’m convinced it is a sure-thing.
Your destination does not need to be a tangible thing. Maybe this year you want to appreciate people more, spend more time with God, offer more forgiveness, or build your confidence. What do you want to change?
You don’t have to have an answer right this moment or even next week. Finding the right destination can be a process and partnership with God. (I’ll talk more about this process in later articles.) For now, you can start developing ideas. A word of warning, however, to make sure it is something you have the power to change on YOUR path alone. You cannot change anyone else’s path or destination.
2. Focus. Once you choose your intentional destination, you need to keep your focus. That is, keep the destination in mind often. Your body naturally moves where your eyes lead. Likewise your heart naturally moves where your mind leads.
Creating something visual on your bedroom wall, work station, computer, social media page, set an alarm on your phone. One or all of these will work. The more the mind focuses, the more we stay on track.
If you have ever seen a ballerina on point slippers spin like a top, you may have noticed that her eyes will focus straight in front of her as long as possible while her body turns smoothly. When her eyes are finally forced away, her eyes and head whip back to the same spot in a snap. Round and round she goes with only a momentary lapse of focus. That focus is necessary to maintain her balance so she can spin 5, 10, 15 times without falling in the front row. Consistent, intentional focus will keep you moving in the right direction, no matter what kind of storm has you twirling around in life.
As you focus on your hopes, be careful to avoid creating expectations that will set you up for disappointment. The amount of time you apply your focus can be more important than your intensity. Slow and steady wins the race. This year, apply steady focus for the win!
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.” – Proverbs 13:4
Please note that effort and focus do not always happen together. Focus can happen without making an effort to change anything but your thoughts.
The effort I speak of here is physical effort. To solidify any kind of change in our life – mental, spiritual, or physical – we need to embody it with physical action. This does NOT (necessarily) mean you’ll need to do any public speaking or sweat bullets until you are ready to vomit. It does mean that you move intentionally toward your destination one step at a time.
This effort could be as simple as wishing someone a good morning, taking deep breaths throughout the day, or saying a prayer every morning. As you continue to take steps and build confidence you may want to build up to larger steps or take two at a time.
Again, the intensity you apply will directly affect your speed of change. In this case, faster is not always better. This is a fact precious few individuals in American culture seem to grasp (including myself sometimes). It is so easy to have instant gratification with food, movies, and dating, we forget the importance of taking on change at a reasonable pace.
There is an old saying, ”Haste makes waste.” This phrase applies especially when we are changing a habit or pattern. If we get to our destination before our brain has time to fully adopt a new pattern, we are not changing. We are completing a task. If focus is lost too soon, we will return to our former habits.
The brain needs time to process the change, accept the change, and adopt the change as natural reflex. The can only be done over time with the right focus and effort.
What new destination will you focus on this New Year? Leave it in the comments! Let this be your first effort for intentional living in 2015!
|Ginny Priz is a Christian coach, writer and speaker. Ginny has overcome her own drama with a birth defect, alcohol, panic disorder, and codependency. She has a passion for guiding others toward the same peace and freedom she has come to experience. Ditching drama is possible for anyone “armed” with God and the Serenity Prayer! It’s never too late to start your own Serenity Journey.|