A new year is here and with that brings a slew of articles, videos and social media posts about goals and resolutions. I personally love taking time to reflect, re-evaluate and set goals, but it can also come with a certain amount of pressure to “get it right” this year.
If you love the energy of the new year and it feels good to set goals, then by all means jump on the resolution bandwagon. I know I do! But if all the new years noise has you feeling stressed out or frustrated, that’s OK too. January 1 is just a date on the calendar after all, and you can make of it whatever you wish!
Instead of talking about goals and resolutions, I thought I would share 3 tips that I use to bring more intention into my daily life. I’m not perfect at any of these by any means! But perfection is not the point of intentional living.
Instead intentional living is about bringing more awareness and presence into your everyday life. It’s about making choices consciously instead of running on autopilot, and committing to showing up authentically in your life as much as possible. (Key words: as much as possible — like I said, I’ll never be perfect at this and neither will you. And that’s OK!)
Intentional living is a great place to start when you’re thinking about making changes in your life. It will help you get to know yourself better as well as what will truly make you feel happier and more fulfilled. (Which is essential to living in alignment!)
Here are 3 ways to make intentional living part of your daily life:
1. Observe your thoughts
One of the biggest changes you can make that will have the most impact on your life is to start paying attention to your thoughts.
When it comes to making changes (and those resolutions that we make at this time of year), we usually start with external changes: our job, our home, relationships, exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.
The truth is that none of those changes will make you feel happier, less stressed or more fulfilled unless you also change the thoughts you have about that part of your life.
For example, it’s not your job that’s making you unhappy. It’s the thoughts that you’re thinking about your job and what you believe that it means about yourself that are making you unhappy. The way that that you interpret or think about the circumstances of your life is what dictates how you feel about them. It’s not that you shouldn’t make these changes, but you need to address your thoughts and beliefs about them too.
This is why changing things up doesn’t always work. You might get a new job that you think will be amazing, and at first, it feels great (because you had the belief that it would be amazing!). But over time, you start experiencing the same challenges that you did in your last job. This could be due to beliefs about yourself, or about work in general, that you’ve carried over to your new job and that are slowly starting to slip back into your daily thoughts.
The thoughts that you have about your life, the way the world should be, and about yourself are shaping your everyday experience. We have as many as 70,000 thoughts per day….that’s a huge part of how we experience life!
The great news is that you don’t even have to change your thoughts to change your experience. You just have to become aware of them. Start noticing your thoughts instead of letting your mind run on autopilot. Just by paying attention, you’ll start to notice how your thoughts really do have a major impact on your day and how you have more control over them than you think!
2. Question your daily habits
Why do you do the things you do? Have you ever truly thought about it?
Why do you wake up at the time you do? Why do you get out of bed the way you do? Why do you brush your teeth, get dressed and make coffee the way you do? Or in that order?
Most of us live a good portion of our day in autopilot. And that’s OK (and necessary!). Our minds would explode if we had to make that many little decisions consciously every single day!
However, it’s a great exercise to stop and take notice of these little decisions every once and a while and see if they still make sense for you. Pick a day when you don’t have too much going on and jot down everything you do and everything you notice about your behavior and habits in a little notebook (or enter into your Notes app).
What little decisions are you making every single day without even thinking about them?
Then, go through your notes and do a quick audit. If you’re happy with a behavior, keep it! If it no longer makes sense or you want to explore other options, then try something new. Experiment and have fun with it!
3. Lighten up & have fun!
Which brings me to my last tip: Have fun!
If you’re trying so hard to keep your thoughts positive, your routines nourishing, your home organized and your relationships fulfilling that you’re completely stressed out, then you’re missing the point! Yes, all of those can be helpful, but it’s equally important to give yourself a break!
Notice when you’re feeling stressed out & overwhelmed and take a break. Notice when you’re criticizing the heck out of yourself and put on some music and dance. Notice when you’re freaking out about the circumstances around you and just breathe.
It’s human nature to want to grow, evolve and expand. But we need time to rest, recharge and have fun. When you’re present and having fun, your mind is able to turn off and rest.
I love this quote by Emily Dickinson, “Forever is composed of nows.” Sometimes whatever we have going on right now is all we need to feel good! <3