For the past few years, I have watched in amazement and sometimes a bit of annoyance this time of year as people posted their “word for the year.” I was amazed that people could think of just one word to focus on for the entire next year. How did they come up with just one word? Would they really focus on that word all year, or would they forget about it weeks after posting it?
I felt annoyed because no matter how hard I tried, I could never settle on just one word. I thought about it. I prayed about it. I looked at other people’s words. I didn’t want to be a copy cat and just take someone else’s word, but I couldn’t come up with one of my own.
This year, the exact opposite happened to me. As I was going through the last part of the year, one word repeatedly came to mind. It seemed to be a common theme in everything I read or listened to. The word that seemed to be on repeat in my head was intentional. As I mentioned in a previous post, my theme for 2016 was seeking clarity. During that process of getting a better focus on my life’s purpose, my heart kept telling me that I now need to be more intentional about living out that purpose.
I ended the year by reading the book, Intentional Living, by John Maxwell. As you might imagine, this book sealed the deal. In the book, Maxwell talks about the difference between people who spend a lot of time thinking about being intentional and those who actually practice Intentional Living. I often fall into the first category, but I want to make the switch of living in the second group.
What does it mean to me to live more intentionally?
- Define my purpose. In the book, Maxwell encourages readers to come up with another type of word. He asks readers to find a word that describes what makes them unique in the world. Identifying that word is one of the steps to understanding the unique talents and strengths you bring to all areas of life. I came up with four words that have been common themes in my work life, family, and personal interests: productivity, communication, creativity, and organization. These are all things that I love, but I want to continue working on narrowing these down to a sort of mission statement that helps me define what makes me unique. Defining my purpose can help me be intentional about being the best me I can be.
- Determine my why. In December, I was blessed to be able to go through an online course called, “Five Days to Your Best Year Ever,” by Michael Hyatt. This is an in-depth process to help you set goals for the coming year and a plan to carry them out. I’ve always known that having a strong why is essential for the big things you want to achieve in life. But I haven’t ever applied it to smaller, everyday routines. As part of this course, I wrote out my motivations for each of my goals for the new year. This was so eye opening to me and really helped me think through whether some of the goals should even be goals. If I don’t have a strong motivation as to why I want to do something, then it’s not worth pursuing.
- Take action. I love to think about things. I love to dream of new ideas and make plans for the future. However, it can be scary to actually take action. One of the ways I’m becoming more intentional about taking action is by looking at changes I want to make on a month-by-month basis. This month, for example, I’m doing the Whole 30 and following a specific exercise routine. Setting this as my goal for the month of January, rather than creating a vague yearlong goal of “improving my health,” is one of the ways I’m being intentional about taking action.
I’m excited about starting off the year with the word intentional. As I’ve been thinking about it the past few weeks, this word has caused me to ask myself on a regular basis why I’m thinking of doing something: Are you doing that because you want to live intentionally or are you just responding to what life is throwing your way?
So what about you? Do you have a word for the year? I would love to hear about it!