When I turned 29 last year, I realized that I’d be 30(!) on my next birthday. Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to turning 30. My 20s have been some really hard years, and while I'm I’m not expecting my 30s to be easy (how else would I grow?), I am hoping to see some of the things I’ve been working on in my 20s start coming together. However, entering a new decade is kind of a big deal, and I wanted to do something to help me to finish my 20s strong and enter my 30s with purpose.
From that thought was born the #yearofintent.
I decided that in each month leading up to my turning 30, I would commit to a new daily practice. That way, by the time I turned 30, I’d have acquired 12 new habits or mindsets and actively cultivated the art of mindfulness daily for an entire year. That sounded like a great way to welcome a new decade.
I am now halfway into my 29th year, and it's been a rewarding and enlightening experience. However, before you start thinking it has all been a glowing success and I'm some sort of superhuman, let me show you the cracks. Month one was pretty easy, I'd committed to journaling each day for a month. I managed to journal all but two days, which I think went pretty well. I'd also realized that although I was going to be disciplined in my practices, I would need to allow some flexibility because, well, life.
Month two I committed to a daily affirmation. Every day, I told myself "I am thankful for each disappointment in my life. Every experience I have is perfect for my growth; I accept new opportunities with an open mind. All is well in my world." On the days I couldn't remember all that, I simply went with, "All is well in my world". Luckily, December was a month where nothing was well in my world, so I was very challenged by that statement. And you know what? The more I told myself that all was well in my world, the more I started to believe it (regardless of my circumstances). Seriously--look yourself in the eye every day and tell yourself something that you need to hear. See if you don't start living as if it were true. Even though life was crazy, I was able to respond with more thankfulness and grace than I usually would have. All was well in my world.
Month three I practiced daily movement--dancing, hooping, stretching, whatever. I know I didn't make that happen every day that month, but it did slowly become part of my lifestyle. I have never been the type of person who moves unless forced (I mean, why move when you can sit? Or lie down. With pillows.), but lately I've been catching myself actually listening to my body and getting up to stretch or work out when it feels like my body needs it. I'm calling that month a success because I've started incorporating exercise into my life on a regular basis.
Month four was the month I didn't practice anything new at all. Life got very full, and all my focus needed to be prioritized elsewhere. I felt I couldn't handle adding a new thing without being overwhelmed, so I remained faithful with my previous practices, reminded myself that I could be flexible, and carried on. I do have an extra month built in to the #yearofintent before I turn 30, so I think I'll use that or do two practices one month so that I can still accomplish my goal of 12 new practices.
Month five, I read in some type of health-related book each day. Since my goal is to become a health coach/nutritionist in the future, I want to start preparing myself now. I'm not as disciplined as I should be about self-study, so this was an opportunity for me to develop the habit of pursuing health-related knowledge on a daily basis. I finished two books and started a third.
This month began month six, in which I have committed to working on the website each day. I have hardly written on here at all in the past, and I'd like to change that. I have so appreciated those of you who have been following and supporting this journey, and I'd like to involve you in my story more frequently.
So, six months in, I've gleaned that approaching life with intent is learned. It's a mindset that we choose to cultivate (or not). It's not one that we just know how to do--we have to train it, grow it, practice it. And it's hard. Most of the time it's like swimming against the current; our minds are funny, powerful places. They have the ability to take us almost anywhere we want to go, but that's the catch, too. They'll go anywhere, so purposeful focus requires constant work and vigilance on our part. One small victory is that as I work on these daily practices, I find myself being mindful with other things in my life, simply by showing up and putting myself in the right mindset each day.