Most of us go throughout our days living in monotony. Day in and day out we follow daily routines. We don’t give much awareness to our surroundings, and blindly move from task to task. We end up feeling empty with this sameness and cannot pinpoint where our unhappiness is coming from. If you are feeling lost, it is because there is no intention in your life. Having no intention in 5 key areas of your life causes feelings of discontent. These include diet, exercise, relationships, career, and adventure. Intentionality means paying attention. It means doing things on purpose—not passively, not reflexively. Learning how to embrace the power of intent can bring you back to life again.
1. Diet: The way most of us eat food in America is centered around our egos, and with zero intention. We are not connected with our food, and that is why we are getting so sick. We crave food certain foods. These foods make us powerless when we get sight of them, a whiff of them, or even think of them. We ache at the thought of an oozy gooey slice of pizza with salty ham, succulent pineapple, and a garlicky crust. We are already thinking about the next heap of mac and cheese when we haven’t even started our first bite. We stop at the drive-through window after a long day at work craving a bacon hamburger and crispy fries, because it is fast and fills our bellies. We have come to a place where we are now eating what is fast, convenient and disconnected. We are so far from the original source of the food we eat that it seems to not matter where it comes from anymore. Food has the power to affect how we feel: energetic, lethargic, positive, negative, healthy or sick. Food is not just about filling our bellies. We need to nourish not only the physical body, but also the mind and soul. We need to eat to live, not live to eat. Don’t get me wrong though, enjoying our food is a part of this process. We need to learn how to be intentional with how we eat food, and how we prepare our food, with positive, loving energy for example. If we don’t do this then we will continue to have trouble to tap into a higher awareness.
- Diet Challenge: For one week avoid going out to eat for your meals. Grocery shop, and meal plan. Choose mostly organic, plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, beans, and legumes. Avoid boxed foods, breads, cookies, bottled sauces, processed foods with added white sugar, and frozen foods. Cook your meals with positive energy and a smile on your face. Eat your meals by sitting down at a table with friends and family. Turn off your TV, smartphone or computer when eating your meals.
2. Physical Activity: Just like with food, most of us are very unintentional with our physical activity. Our bodies are designed to move, not to sit at a desk all day long, then come home sit on the couch and then go to bed. We all know the benefits of exercise, but have still become detached from our natural state of being because of modern conveniences. It is easy to get in a rut and stop moving our bodies for weeks at a time. It is no wonder we are feeling depressed. Exercise has been shown to decrease depression, create new brain cells, and create stronger connections within our brains. Our bad exercise habits have rubbed off on our children, and now we are seeing childhood obesity on the rise. We are teaching our children that it is more fun to play video games then to play outside. Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly, your mother announced dinner was ready, but your didn’t want to go in. The passion of play took all of your attention. It is time we give some intention to this area of our lives again. Let’s learn to play outside like kids again. Athletes of sports like crossfit, and triathlons need to be intentional as well. Each movement must have intention and skill behind it, our else you risk the chance of getting hurt. Athletes must give intention to how they are feeling and push forward when it is time to push, and to back off when time to slow down to avoid injury.
- Physical Activity Challenge: At the beginning of each day or each week intentionally set a goal for physical activity. It doesn’t have to be a set time of day. It can be 10-minute bouts at a time. Get up every hour and do 10 squats. Get in 6,000 steps a day. Make it fun. Go on a beautiful hike. Try a zumba or spin class. Sign up for a local mud run and work toward that as a goal. Plan ahead and make your movements intentional. Stop making excuses!
3. Relationships: Are your relationships intentional or just convenient? The act of intentionally choosing someone to enter your life generates a huge amount of energy, hope, and joy. It’s a catalyst that has the potential to ignite a lifelong, soul-deep relationship. When we go to someone and say, “Dance with me,” and they take our hand, it creates great possibilities. It doesn’t mean we’re already skilled on the dance floor, but it does mean the two of us have chosen each other as partners to learn and grow with. The connections you make with the people in your life may be intentional or convenient, but they’re rarely both. Culture tells us that relationships need to be efficient, and if they’re not, it’s time to move on. This kind of upside-down thinking says that relationships just randomly come our way like traffic on a freeway, and we have no choice but to go with the flow. Great relationships are based on active choices. The very best relationships are highly intentional, built on the solid rock of shared vision and goals. This art of relationships is beautifully simple but often forgotten in the rat race of our lives. You have to have a direction, a purpose, and sometimes even a plan for your key relationships. You must act with purpose, not just react to what happens. It is also important to have an intentional relationship with ourselves for us to connect with others on a deeper level.
- Relationship Challenge: At any given moment you have several relationships going on in your life, such as family, friends, and romantic. If any of these relationships are giving you stress or anguish, sit down and write your vision for this relationship. Where do you see it going? What do you want out of it? Then share these visions with the person in the relationship with you. If they do not agree, or do not try to compromise with you, then maybe it is time to move on. For a more intentional relationship with yourself, try a guided journal or guided online meditations to dig deep and connect better with YOU!
4. Career: We hunger for leadership, success, and fulfillment in our chosen careers. We spend 40+ hours a week working, so it is vital that we feel satisfied in it. Life is too short to spend wasted hours on a job that causes boredom or stress. If it is impossible to change your day job at this time, then try engaging in a new project at work, ask for ways you can lead, or spend 10-15 minutes a day working on an outside project that could lead to something down the road. Stop being miserable at work, and start being intentional with what your want in a career.
- Career Challenge: Write down 5 things you are passionate about. Writing? Cooking? Photography? Teaching? Incorporate these passions into your current job, or start something during off hours in which you can include these passions. It is possible that your enthusiasms could lead to a future job opportunity.
5. Adventure: Just like we hunger for love, romance, relationships, a passionate career, leadership, success, self-expression, we hunger for excitement and adventure. The extent to which we are able to incorporate adventure determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel. Everyone is called to adventure. Yes, adventure may hurt us, but monotony will certainly kill us. We need to start planning extraordinary adventures in our lives for newness and fun. Stop the madness of repetitiveness and explore something new. Plan more short vacations. Try a new class. Learn. Whatever you do, don’t be boring!
- Adventure Challenge: Every month plan a new adventure. Go skydiving. Travel to a National Park. Try backpacking. Try a new painting class. Read a new book. Try a yoga class or crossfit class. Sign up for a race. Join a meet up group. Learn a new skill.
❤ Colleen Poling, RD