Friday, February 24, 2012

Being intentional

You may have noticed that this blog is somewhat of a wandering journey of my random thoughts.  I jump from topic to topic and really just share from the heart the things I'm thinking about or going through in my life right now.  It's more like a journal that a blog (edited though of course!  I can't tell all my secrets).  The thing is though if you look closely there is a theme emerging this year.  It's something I haven't thought concretely about, but as I've been on a journey of working through things in my life, prioritizing, optimizing, de-cluttering, there is one thing that I'm learning that is consistent.  The need to be intentional.

You can read a hundred books or blogs on how to simplify your life, or how to achieve you goals, but at the heart of all of these well intentioned discourses is the core idea that you need to be intentional to succeed.  What does that mean?  Let me give you an example.  If you're trying to loose weight you have a choice every time you eat to either eat something healthy or not.  You can choose to eat too little, too much, or just the right amount that will help you achieve your goal.  You can also choose to exercise, or not.  The fact is if you want to succeed in weight loss you need to be intentional every day to make choices that will bring you closer to that goal, and to avoid pitfalls that will place that goal further away from you.  Here's another example.  If you want to improve a skill in your life - painting, budgeting, photography, *insert your hobby/work skills here* - you have too be intentional about how you will do it.    You have to decide if it's training, practice, mentoring or something else that will help you become better at that skill.  And then you have to choose to do it.  You have to follow through.  The desire to improve alone is not enough to help you succeed at it.  Obvious right?  Sounds simple.

The thing is, many people fail at their goals.  They fail to keep resolutions.  They fail to make changes in their life because they aren't intentional about it.  The size of the goal is not the obstacle to success.  Rather it's the lack of intentional behavior which prevents us from moving closer to that goal.  So who's to blame if I fail?  Me.  Who's to blame if I succeed?  Me.  It's something I control.  Sure there are circumstances that impact our progress, but our response to those circumstances is also something under our control.  We might have to shift our timelines or alter our plans to match the circumstances, but we can still choose to move forward in the journey to achieving our dreams.

PS: The photo is from a trip to Vietnam a few years ago.  It's a boat ride... representing a journey... the journey we are all on.. (get it? get it?)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Simplify, simplify, simplify - aka NO!

As you might have gathered from my recent posts I'm trying to optimize my life.  I'm trying to achieve some sort of balance between work and life, between the things I have to do and the things I want to do, between the things I can do and the things I want to learn how to do.  With any efforts to do this, I usually end up overcomplicating life and making it even fuller than before.  This results in not achieving balance or any of my goals and tends to make me :-(   (Yes that's a Sad Sally face folks).

Fortunately this week I had the chance to have some great conversations that just confirmed things I'm already trying to do.  One was with my colleague Meg.  She was relating about this time in her life where she actively said NO to things for a year.  She said NO to activities and chores she wasn't really interested in.  NO to things that were not something she wanted to do or achieve.  And NO to people who were not people she wanted to prioritize in her life.  The result was that at the end of her time saying NO she had decluttered her life of the things that were not important to her.  She'd created both time and space to just wait and figure out what she did want, and make that a priority.  She found balance and contentment in refining the her values, and desires, and was at piece.

As this is something I struggle to do (too much enthusiasm for life) I thought it would be a unique challenge to try.  I'm going to try and be more aware of the choices I make each day.  To say NO to things that are not important to me (or my very near and dear).  To say NO to the things that won't bring me closer to my goals.  To say NO to the things that have an impact that affects my future in a less than desirable way.  And to say NO without guilt or fear.  To simplify my time and declutter my thoughts.

PS - There is no photo today - I just said NO to myself and my dread of finding one to fit the topic.  (Aren't I off to a good start!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This time it's personal.

I read a wonderful quote in the 'Now is the Time' book I mentioned in my post on January 16.  It goes like this:

Write a personal note

Don't type it,
write it in your own hand.  
It shows you really care
It's an authentic gift in this digital world,
a personal keepsake of kindness.
It will leave a lasting impression.

I love this quote.  I love it because it sums up why I make my own cards.  I don't always have a lot to say in them (although you wouldn't know that as I keep babbling on on this blog), but I do have a lot I want to convey by their creation and giving.  I want the recipients to know I cherish them.  I want them to know that I have made an effort to create something just for them.  I want them to feel that they are special.  I want them to know that they are unique, just like the card I make for them.

Now I want to take it to the next level - to match my words with my card.  To write to more people and tell them what they mean to me.  To share the joy of our friendship in a meaningful way while I can.  Life can be short, and sometimes very challenging.  This is one way I can make my connections with those around me more meaningful.

Let me challenge you today to write a card to a loved one.  A gift of words for no reason, other than to tell them how you feel.  As Emily Dickinson says 'A letter is a joy of earth - it is denied to the Gods'.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February funk?

Wow I can't believe it's already February.  The older I get, the faster that time seems to go.  It's funny how it works.  At age 10 you can't wait to be 15, at 15 you long to be 25, at 25 well it's time for some reflection, but for me at least life started to be fabulous.  At 30 I wondered were the last 5 years went.  And here I am today wondering what happened to New Years Eve.  Surely that was yesterday?!?

Realising it's already February has made me start to wonder where have all my New Years resolutions gone.  I started out so well.  So strong. With lists and plans of how small changes were going to make my life better - more efficient and more time for me.  Well as all good plans go there's had to be some compromise.  Sometimes you just can't keep up with the pace you set yourself.  Sometimes you need to pause and take a break.  And sometimes you need to let things go.  I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the last one as I'd prefer to achieve every goal I set, but I'm slowly realising that it is possible to overstretch yourself sometimes.  And it's ok to step back and bring you goals a little nearer.  That said I'm determined that this is not going to be a February funk so I'm going to go back over my lists, my plans, my dreams for 2012 and start working away at them again.  Maybe I'll only be strong 3 weeks out of the month and the last week will be for fun and frivolity - but that's 3 weeks that will take me closer to my goals.  3 weeks that will push me towards my dreams.  And 3 weeks that will benefit me.

What about you?  How are your resolutions going?

PS - That picture is of my dream box.  A time capsule I've created for 2012.  Read more about it here.