October 26, 2023

First Steps Towards Living with Intentionality

Lessons on how to live life more intentionally through the power of reflection.

First Steps Towards Living with Intentionality

For many of us, our lives are filled with the need to juggle so many priorities – career, family, social commitments, etc. We plow through our days from one meeting or event to the next without ever taking a breath to process what is happening.  We are so used to this fast paced and non-stop way of living that it has become our new normal.  It seems that we are on autopilot all the time.  I too have been guilty of this for much of my life.  But in the last few years, I have really tried to be more purposeful about how I go about my days. This begs the question, how do we break free from this pattern and live our lives more intentionally?

Optimizing my time, this most precious of resources, meant compressing as much as I could into each day.  I convinced myself that by cramming it all in, I was living my life more fully.   This way of thinking and being came to a crashing halt when my son, William, died and I was forced to take the biggest pause of my life. I took a six month leave of absence from work, and days that once flew by as a result of a packed schedule slowed to a snail's pace.  At first, it was extremely uncomfortable for me.  I felt off-kilter, forced to be with myself, my emotions, and my thoughts.  It was scary.  As time went on and I began to embrace this new state of being, I found that pausing and doing less was the only way I could live more intentionally.   

Living more intentionally requires that we get off the proverbial hamster wheel and pause. We have to stop and smell the roses - or whatever metaphor you prefer.  For me, pausing meant looking inward and taking the time to reflect on what was happening inside me. This type of self-reflection, unfortunately, has become a lost art.  Our forebearers where actually much more practiced at the art of reflection. If you read any biography of a historical figure, much of it is derived from their personal journals. The story of their lives is largely based on introspection – what they were thinking, feeling, and experiencing.  Think about that – if we don’t pause and reflect, how will we ever truly connect with what we experience in this one life we have to live?  

I get it. The notion of stepping back and taking time to pause and reflect sounds like another task added to the long list of other responsibilities in your life.  Who has time for it, to stop everything and just be?  I guess you just have to make the time.  You have to actively make the choice. Not by cramming it into your busy day, but by consciously making space for it, by intentionally prioritizing it.  It means looking at your busy life and ruthlessly deprioritizing the inconsequential and prioritizing the meaningful.  Yes, sometimes it is easier to let the calendar run the show. It requires less effort to just trudge along than actively choose how we spend our time.  But intentional living means making intentional choices. Choices that overall will create a better and more whole life. What could be more important?