Living with Intention

My birthday is coming up in a week. And as usual, I’ve become more reflective and introspective thinking about the next year. What do I want out of it? And that’s when I realized for the past few years I’ve been living with intention. I’ve been making broad, conceptual goals and labeling each year of my life with a phrase to set the tone.

For instance, I started with 25 because 24 was a rough year and I wanted 25 to be much better. I wanted to catapult out of depression and stagnancy into something proactive and exciting. So I went ahead and decided that I’d be having a “Thriving 25.”

At the time I made that the theme, it was a joke. I was just trying to make myself feel better with a rhyme. Little did I know that I would repeat that phrase throughout the year and actually work toward that goal – to thrive. I weighed opportunities that came my way and reflected on my relationships to see if they matched with the concept of thriving. Would these things, opportunities, and people help me become a better version of myself?

And honestly, living that way for the year made a difference in my life. I was being mindful of what I was doing and where I was expending my energy. I was focusing on myself and what was good for me. I went into 25 with a positive attitude, and I thought, well that’s a golden idea! Because I had unexpectedly satisfying outcomes for 25, I decided to continue with having a thematic year for the next one as well.

I had to think about what I wanted to get out of 26, but even more importantly (to me anyway) was what can I rhyme with it? I felt that I was making progress and moving forward, and I wanted to keep doing that, but I felt that I was missing a dimension of getting there. I noticed that even as I was progressing, there were things that I did that promoted regression. So I coined 26. “Nixing 26.”

I didn’t mean it as I’m canceling 26 because it’s going to be a bad year or anything of the sort. Instead, I meant it as for that upcoming year my focus would be on nixing bad habits. I would work toward moving away from things I did that I knew were bad for me, or not in my best interest. I would work on overcoming obstacles that often kept me in a miserable place, or even letting myself stay and mope. I mean, I struggle with anxiety and depression, so I’m bound to have down days, but I could make the choice to limit that time and then actively try to do something productive instead of letting myself fall into a deeper pit. And that’s what my intentions were for 26.

Granted, 26 didn’t pan out as well as 25 did. Not to say I didn’t nix some bad habits, but it wasn’t a great change like I expected it to be. It was still a great year though. Maybe it’s because I focused on the things I accomplished given my theme. Since I was reflecting on the year based on the positive outcomes, I was able to focus on the good that came out of the year instead of the negative things that happened. So it shifted my perspective from things I could nitpick to things I could applaud. I liked the feeling, so I once again chose to do the same for 27.

Honestly, I didn’t really bother stressing about what to name 27. I was running off the positivity from the success of the previous two years, and I was like well, third year is bound to be better, right? So it became a cheers to an, “Even Better 27.” I have to say, 27 came with a lot of good, but it also had moments of difficulty. The first half of the age was nice. I was making career moves and getting a more solid footing on what I wanted to accomplish. I moved out from living with my family to living on my own (with a roommate because NYC is expensive!). The latter half of 27, not so great.

For one, my dad had a health issue that ended up derailing some of my progress and my attention became divided. There was some roommate conflict that kept building. I had work stress and a job change. Those aforementioned difficulties did get resolved, or I guess, have on-going resolution. But then, this pandemic hit. And it’s hard to feel like 27 has been “even better” than 25 and 26 when we’re in a state of crisis. But these obstacles that I faced helped me put a lot of things in perspective, helped me changed my thinking, and helped me see my underlying resilience. So yeah, maybe 27 was even better… especially for my mental health. I even found a new therapist that I feel like I can work with in an effective manner.

So what’s next for 28? I don’t know, and I’m finally in a place where I can be okay with the uncertainty and openness of a new year. It’s kind of exhilarating! Which is why the upcoming year is going to be, “Date with fate 28.”

I’m going to take the next year in stride and go with the flow. Yes, I’ll still have goals and things I want to accomplish, but I’m going to be more open to possibilities. I’m going to listen to instincts/intuition and my body more so that I can better take care of myself. It’s going to be an interesting year, and I’m excited. I’m living with intention and that’s really making a difference.

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