As we bring in the new year, there’s been quite a bit of reflection and soul searching for many of us. It’s almost a must-do at this time of year, as we close down the old and bring in the new. As a Capricorn, it’s a bit of a double whammy for me, as I venture into another new year of life.
Yet I’ve also noticed that some of us, present company included, feel a sense of pressure around this time of year. An expectation that all types of new things and adventures will start once we enter the new year. A new life will be born. For some, there’s also a taste of slight disappointment when we realise that life goes on as it is. As Danielle Marchant puts so beautifully in her blog “When the clock strikes twelve, what remains is reality”.
And that, my loves, is a beautiful truth.
Reality has deep beauty in and of itself. Our life is a perfect imperfection. Throughout our lives, we will experience highs and lows, or as the Buddha said 10,000 days of joy and 10,000 days of sorrow. In some areas of our life, we will feel good, in other areas maybe not so much… and this together constitutes a life. This life doesn’t magically change when the clock strikes midnight.
Yet it is also here in this reality that lies the basis for what I like to call intentional living. Seeing the reality of what your life is, its beauty and its flaws, also allows you to see where you are and identify what is working for you and what is not. Intentional living for me means bringing awareness into how you want to live your life rather than letting life just shoot by, and setting some guideposts to direct your life.
It has always amazed me that we can spend so much time on organisational strategic planning processes yet when it comes to our own lives, we are so often on automatic pilot. I don’t believe we are capable of completely planning out our lives and frankly, nor would we want to, but there is a real opportunity to become more intentional about how you want to show up in life, what qualities and characteristics you want to bring to the table, and what your priorities are.
Essentially, the question is:
Am I living my life in a way that is meaningful and joyful to me?
Not a small question I know – but oh so important and oh so rich!
There is incredible power in living an intentional life and asking some of these powerful questions: How am I spending my time and does that reflect my priorities? Am I using my precious energy, time and other resources on the things that truly matter to me? How do I define success in my life?
The power lies in the fact that we are all responsible for our own lives and that our life happens in the small decisions we make every day. When we become clearer on what our priorities are and how we want to live, we become a force of nature. We focus on our own personal power rather than looking outside of ourselves – what is it that I can do? How can I contribute?
This requires you to know yourself and live an examined life. It requires stillness and space. The space within ourselves to hear what we have to say and to hear our own desires. It requires you to take responsibility for your own life and be aware that we always have a choice. We choose in every moment how we want to live our lives, how we respond to the events around us, who we choose to be.
Setting out our intentions and following those, putting the responsibility on ourselves and ultimately holding ourselves accountable to be the highest version of ourselves that we can be is one of the most powerful things we can do.
With that power comes a strong sense of purpose, motivation and focus because we know what we are working toward – what it is, ultimately, that we want to create. From that well, we tap into a vast amount of energy and motivation to push us forward to bring into life what we envision.
The start of a new year gives us that space to become intentional, but it is a space that we can always create at any time of year, at any time in our lives. Mostly, it requires a conscious decision to live a life of intention, the space to hear our own heart’s desire and the commitment to act upon it.
And while this can all sound quite serious, at the heart of it all lies joy. Because what can truly give us joy is really doing the things that we love to do, that light up our days – regardless of what the outcome will actually be. And once that light shines brightly, it is one of the most beautifully contagious things around.