No More Resolutions: The Wonder Of Intentional LivingJan 05, 2021
Welcome to 2021. Did you set your new year’s resolutions? Or are you much like me and say “No More Resolutions”? Let’s talk, instead, about the wonder of intentional living.
I know most of us struggling with depression or anxiety feel like nothing has changed.
Yes, a new year has rolled around, but my anxiety didn’t get the memo and make a miraculous turn around. And that’s why I avoid goal settings and resolutions and have found the wonder of intentional living instead.
New Year’s Resolutions Just Don’t Work
You see, the idea of setting goals and making resolutions may feel inspirational in the moment, but then only serves to increase anxiety because it means you have to make them happen or face feeling like a failure when you don’t.
Given the track record on how many new year’s resolutions actually eventuated in the past, chances are high that life and anxiety will get in the way yet again….am I right?
How to Use The New Year Energy
But it is a new year and a new energy and it feels like we have a new opportunity to turn things around. Do them differently. Finally get a hold of our anxiety and depression.
And let’s face it – without purpose, what drives us? What gets you up in the morning if you don’t have something you are striving towards?
Which is why so many people latch onto setting resolutions and goals for the new year… We need something to strive towards.
So, while I am not a fan of goal setting, I am an avid supporter of intentional living. Making use of the new year energy, the fresh start, the clean slate – Let’s set intentions for 2021 and forget the resolutions.
And this is the wonder of intentional living: Intentions are not goals. Similar. But not the same. They are built in with an “it’s ok if you don’t quite reach it – you just keep on trying” disclaimer.
And in so doing they become a guiding principal that creates meaning and purpose and something to strive towards.
So I want to talk about the year forward and the wonder of intentional living in 2021.
The Wonder of Intentional Living Explained
Living with intention has become a repeated mantra over the past decade and working with clients. Just how does it filter into almost every intervention with those struggling with anxiety and depression?
Well, more often than not depression is about being stuck. It’s a state of non-movement. It’s a space of helplessness and powerlessness, which often turns into hopelessness. When a client struggling with depression can become an agent in their own life again, the veil begins to lift. They are able to have choice, see options, take action. These shifts create movement in their lives as well as their emotions. And these movements can help to dislodge the depression.
Anxiety is often a state of inner conflict and being stuck in this conflict. Oftentimes clients are at conflict with themselves – they are not living in alignment with their values, or they are being placed in situations that are inherently uncomfortable. Becoming intentional and aware allows them to take ownership of their choices again and to make changes that allow them to live authentically .
(I am really providing only the briefest and surface level understandings of these conditions here – there are, of course, other and deeper reasons for these conditions. But often intentional living brings the person back into control of their situation, time, choices and responses).
What Does Being More Intentional Actually Mean?
Creating the wonder of intentional living is all about taking yourself out of autopilot mode and taking control of your life again.
You don’t think you’re on autopilot?
How often do you feel like you are just going through the motions of the day? … Wake up, get ready, get kids ready, breakfast, clean, work, kids, meals, clean, TV, bed, sleep and all over again.
Have you ever been caught in your own looping thoughts, getting carried away by the spirals of anxious thoughts? And while this was going on you were busy cleaning or working and suddenly realise you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing?
That’s being on auto-pilot.
How many times have you caught yourself thinking it was Tuesday when it was actually Wednesday? How did the days roll into each other?
Being on autopilot means succumbing to the routines and doing them without much thought. It’s about letting your mind simply go where it wants and you’re just going along for the ride. Whether it be negative, anxious thoughts, or not.
The thoughts and the actions become second nature – you’re just going through the motions without much control over it.
Intentional Living Means Getting Out Of Autopilot Mode
The trick to breaking the cycle is not necessarily adding more excitement (or distraction) to your life. Our responsibilities are there. Routines have a place – they keep everybody sane.
The trick to being more intentional is paying attention. Being present. Being conscious.
You can simply take your ordinary daily routine and become conscious of it, which makes you more aware. When you become aware you begin to recognise just why you do certain things the way you do them.
Just why do you unpack the dishwasher every morning whilst making your cup of coffee? Perhaps you’re doing your wife a favour as a loving gesture. When you become conscious of your why, the act becomes intentional.
Ask yourself why you cook a dinner each night for your family? Maybe you believe it’s the role of the mother, but perhaps you value providing specific nutrition for yourself and your family. Again, knowing the why behind the daily routine makes it intentional and gives it purpose. This is the wonder of intentional living.
Our Thoughts Are On Auto-Pilot
The cycle of anxious thoughts we experience on a daily basis are often on auto-pilot too. They happen when you are least expecting them. And the spiral we go down happens automatically.
Becoming intentional with our thinking helps to stop these vicious, negative auto-pilot spirals from getting out of control.
The wonder of intentional living means it puts you back in the driver seat of your thoughts. You get to choose what you want your mind to be busy with.
Intentional Living for 2021
Our plight at The Unstuck Initiative is to encourage a more intentional life that allows you to live and thrive despite, or alongside, your experience of anxiety and depression.
Freeing yourself from auto-pilot and reconnecting with who you are and what you stand for allows you to break the sticky chains of mental illness.
Starting to live intentionally with the new year energy means setting an intention.
Set Your Word For 2021
Let’s start simple. Let’s pick a word that resonates with who and how we want to be in the year going forward.
My word is “flow””
I need to go with the flow more and realise that I am not in control of all situations. Life unfolds as it does and I am there controlling only myself and my reactions. Nothing else.
When I flow with the experience – rather than resist it, try to change it or to control it, everything feels easier.
What is your word?
Your Word Is Your Guide
Once you have set your word for the year (or just the next 3 months ahead) then you can keep yourself aligned with that word.
Allow the word to guide your actions and your thoughts.
When I catch myself getting frustrated that plans have changed (which they so often have these past few weeks) then I remember to go with the flow.
When I catch my thoughts getting stuck on the “should” and “could haves” and spiralling into a mess… I remember my word – “flow” and allow the feelings to flow. What has happened has happened and I allow myself to flow forward.
These are my examples of my word. Your word will (maybe) be different. Whatever that word is, allow it to resonate through you and guide you as you move into 2021.
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