I realized how much intention mattered in my mid-twenties as I lay in an emergency room. It was my second ER visit in days and, as fate would have it, the same emergency room doctor treated me.
Feeling my lymph nodes, he said, “I’m happy to keep seeing you if you’re happy to keep landing yourself here.”
I was instantly offended. I had a double ear infection, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and a sinus infection. I worked in a high school where germs were plentiful. I hadn’t done this to myself, I bristled.
Except maybe I had. I was a chronic workaholic, an overcommitted community member, the kind of person who sacrificed herself for the good of the group. You are nodding right now not because you knew me then but because you know you.
Finally healthy a few weeks later, I could see how my behaviors didn’t serve me. It didn’t help me to skimp on sleep, food and fun. And, ironically, it didn’t help the people I wanted to support. I got so sick because I wouldn’t take a sick day from teaching to go see the doctor and rest when I first started feeling badly. Ironically, after the second ER visit, the doctor wouldn’t clear me to return to work for weeks. Not taking a day of rest early in the semester meant my students were without me for weeks in the days leading up to their state exam for my class. My perspective shifted. I had to deliberately take care of myself in order to live my purpose.
Over the next few years, I changed my approach to life. Perhaps the most significant thing I did was begin to live with intention. Starting each day on purpose has changed everything. It has made me more authentic, more healthy, more balanced, and, go figure, more happy.
Now, I am gearing up for what is my personal Super Bowl: my late November birthday followed by the New Year. I use this period of transition to deliberately reflect on the last year and then envision and articulate my intentions so I can claim what I want from the new year (of my life and on the calendar) and then put into place the tools that will help me realize those dreams.
Because living with intention has made such a difference in my life, it is now my mission to support those who want to make their life happen (as opposed to reacting to what comes to them). Over the next couple months, I’ll be sharing tools and tips to support your intentional living journey here so that we can all look back at 2014 with a gratitude for what it has taught us and given us and anticipate what we can create in 2015.
This week, I hope you’ll take the time to answer these three not-so-simple questions with a simple sentence (on paper or even just in your head when you have some time to yourself— think: working out, showering, drinking coffee, or commuting):
- Who am I at this time in my life?
- How do I want to be in the world?
- What is my intention just for this day (or this moment)?
You are welcome to share your answers here (sometimes claiming them to someone else can be really powerful) or just use them as gentle guides to build your self-awareness and push you towards your greatest intention with clarity and conviction. There’s so much we cannot control in life but one thing I’ve learned is that, despite what I though at twenty-five, we can create an empowered life for ourselves.