My Season of Intention

Written by Jennifer Griggs

Here it is, nearly April, and it’s hard to believe how quickly this year is zipping by. At this point in years past, I would have abandoned my New Year’s resolutions…they have never worked for me. My hoped for changes generally last about, oh, two days and then fizzled out.

Picking a Theme

So now, I choose a theme for each year or, most often, a theme for each season. See this video for how picking a theme works. Themes can be seen as guiding principles, big ideas that can help you make decisions on how you spend your time and energy. Last winter was my season of courage, spring was my season of play, and fall and winter were seasons of creativity (which occurred to me later, is a way of playing courageously).

Winter was my season of intention. (I had considered “discipline,” but as someone who grew up with a spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child ethos, the word discipline has undesirable overtones). Intention means that I figure out how to make decisions in a way that considers, not just the present, but also my vision for the future. It means asking how I want to spend my time, how can I make a change towards a life of greater purpose and meaning, how do I want to be in this world? Like the Cheshire Cat advises, if we don’t know which way we’re going, it doesn’t matter which way we go.

So what does this look like in real life? My intention to be healthier has helped me to be more thoughtful about what I eat. My intention to feel connected with my husband has helped us create a weekly ritual on Friday evenings, television off, phones set aside for an hour of talking about the arc of our week, what we would like our weekend to be, and what each of us needs from the other. Beginning in January, we started getting up early and walking outside for at least 40 minutes. Even in 7-degree weather, my husband and I have missed only two days, and both of those were intentional. When I eat chocolate, I no longer berate myself for weakness–I enjoy the taste and relish the decision I’ve made. As someone with a tendency to “over function,” I have stopped trying to do things that people in my life can do for themselves. You’ll have to read between the lines on that one.

So how’s it going?

In following my intention to be comfortable in my body and to be stronger, I’ve lost (some of) my COVID weight, I’m getting exercise (I call it “movement” because I dislike exercise). I feel energetic after walking, the feeling of breathing in fresh air lasting through late afternoon, my husband and I are more deeply connected, and I no longer feel like I’m carrying the burden of doing other people’s work. My intention to change how I work was to allow each of my team members to shine and to grow. I’ve also found that I can practice loving detachment with my family–turns out people want connection but not my managing them.

Do I have this nailed?

Ab-so-lutely not. I can be too quick to act, too quick to speak, careless in where I throw my coat when I get home, and a little snappish if I’m running late. I spend too much money on notebooks–any type of notebook–and am most definitely going to have to work on that. I want to spend less time on the little things (email) and experience deep work. I hope for more simplicity and less stuff to dust. I continue to work on my recovery from perfectionism. I am, as we all are, a work in progress.

What about you?

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? How’re they going? Now that spring is arriving (slowly and, it seems, intentionally here in Michigan), can you set intentions for this new season? Really get under the skin of what you really want. Are you overwhelmed with demands on your time and energy? Are you living with perfectionism? What would being intentional make possible? Can you set your intentions, write them down, experiment, find support and encouragement? And can you find people in your corner to reflect on your progress and celebrate the wins, both big and small?