We all walk into the new year with good intentions, dreams and expectations for how the year will unfold. If there's anything 2020 taught us, it's that expectations can be shattered. It was a hard and frustrating and yet, even still, an insightful year that gave us a bitter taste of reality. We may have learned some hard lessons, but such an experience only made us stronger with eyes more clear than ever before.
Let's step into the new year with realistic hope for good things, and the inevitable not-so-good things to come. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we allow ourselves to be affected by our circumstances. Taking note from lessons learned, here are 10 ways to practice intentional living, keep a grateful spirit, and live with clear eyes in the new year.
1. Journal special moments and memories.
It is a surreal feeling to reminisce upon memories from writings of sweet and tough times alike. From our experiences, we learn. As much as we like to think a lesson will stick with us, the truth is that we are quick to forget only to repeat the same mistake down the line. We are imperfect humans, and it's comforting to have those important lessons documented for us to look back on as a reminder.
Whether it be realizations learned from the ending of a relationship or that one wild night with friends that felt like it would last forever in that moment, we need to write these things down. We cannot possibly put into words the significance of a moment with such perfect accuracy as we could right in the moment we lived it!
So, let's use this year to practice documenting the moments and thoughts, good and bad, to cherish and learn from for years to come.
2. Get outdoors.
We don't care who you are, the outdoors is a place of comfort. On a fundamental level, humans need to spend time outdoors in some capacity; to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, to hear the sound of branches swaying in the wind, to smell the sweet and deeply comforting smell of the earth beneath our feet.
It is something special to remove yourself from the world of society and place yourself in the world of nature. One resides within the other, but the impact the two have on our minds couldn't be further apart.
Make nature your safe space this coming year. Retreat to your local park when the weight of obligation rests to heavy on your mind. Displace yourself in the grass of your very own yard in times when you need to simply escape.
3. Be intentional with the way you spend your minutes.
To be intentional with your time leaves is too loose. We should seek to be mindful with our minutes. We complain we have no time at the end of the day to do the things that make us truly happy, yet we fill our minutes with mindless scrolling in an attempt to "pass the time".
Not this time around. Let's get reduce the moments when we hop on social media for a just a couple minutes and then before we know it a whole hour has gone by! More time for reading, laughing with family, driving aimlessly with friends, hammocking in the backyard, sweating through a workout, and dancing in the mirror.
You are in control of how you spend your time, nobody can take that away from you. Ask yourself, what do you want to dedicate more intentional time to in the coming year?
4. Savor late nights, but savor sleep as well.
Late nights are something wonderful. Deep conversations that last until dawn, spontaneous road trips that spark sweet memories, late night jam seshes that last too long because each song is better than the next. All of these moments deserve their place in time, but let's not prioritize "living" over helping our bodies live.
We need sleep. Just as we should be intentional with our time, we should be intentional with giving ourselves a wonderful and restful sleep. Simply put, sleep helps our bodies recover and function!
For all that your body does for you, the things you are aware of and those you are not, say thank you by respecting its needs.
5. Hesitation aside, start walking in the direction you want.
We're big advocates for living a full life; a life full of doing the things that bring you joy, embarking on the journeys that expand your perspective, and taking the terrifying and exciting leap in the direction you feel called to go in.
Remind yourself of just how short life is, and take the steps to live it out that way you want! We are notorious for standing in our own way. We tell ourselves x is impossible, y is beyond our boundary of comfort, z can't possibly become reality because the stars haven't aligned.
We have learned by now the stars will never align. The timing will almost never be perfect, the money exactly enough, the circumstances golden. We cannot rely on the stars to align because we live in an imperfect world, and though it be beautiful in its own way, it is simply imperfect.
Close your eyes and picture the leap you dream of taking? What is keeping you on the safe harbor and how can you free yourself to dive head first into waters unknown?
6. Prioritize fueling your body over your cravings.
We've preached this time and time again because it's a message that we can never be reminded of too often, nor a message that gets old. Those cravings that you have are not messages from a place of need within your body, but from a place of desire within your mind.
Your body does not thrive on processed snacks and convenient fast food. For all that our bodies allow us to do, acts big and small, we should seek to reward it with the fuel it deserves.
But life is full and short and room ought to be made for the desires that despite not being optimal for our bodies, are temporarily optimal for our mental well-being. Have the a piece or two of the chocolate candy, not the whole bag. Have a slice of pizza, not the entire box. Have the beer or two, not the entire 6-pack.
Complete deprivation is never the answer, because complete deprivation leads to complete overindulgence to compensate for what was denied for so long.
7. Escape your thoughts and your comfort zone.
The forest can be scary and intimidating, or it can be a place of opportunity to uncover what lies beyond the threshold of what the eyes can see and the mind can only imagine.
Take the backpacking trip. Climb the rough rock wall that looms high, seemingly calling your name from above. Road trip to the destination you've been imagining for years. Step into the forest.
At the end of the day, you have one of two choices, to go or to stay put. Escape your thoughts, the ones that call you back into the comforting place you have grown tired of. Step beyond your comfort zone into a place so freeing and yes, probably even daunting. Every opportunity will bring with it highs and lows to be experienced in their own time.
But first, you must quiet your mind and move forward.
8. Dedicate more time to things off-screen.
We are far too distracted by the screens in our lives. We shift from one to another, phone to laptop to TV to tablet, repeat. How are these things serving you?
We are overcome with anxiety from the 24-hour news we've become addicted to, riddled with comparison disorder to the false realities we envy on social media, desperately impatient at the disposal of the refresh button.
We have been deprived of simpler times, back when man was forced to find ways to entertain and think for himself. The world does not revolve around technology, and neither should yours.
Get outside in fresh air. Laugh in good company. Live in high spirits.
9. Give yourself a break.
We take ourselves way too seriously; when in reality, our world is a reflection of ourselves, imperfect. We our quick to beat ourselves up for silly mistakes, failing to realize that life is a series of trail and error! If we got everything right on the first try, then what lessons would we stand to learn.
We learn from the mistakes to teach others, and so the cycle repeats itself. Imperfection is what makes us uniquely human. From the pimple on your face, the way you trip over your words when you get nervous, the subtle way you try and cover up the way you tripped on the flat sidewalk.
We should look upon our mistakes with care and forgiveness. What good can come from degrading the human spirit? Nothing that in turn fosters growth in a forward direction.
10. Show up for yourself, show up for others.
Perhaps the biggest lesson of all. In the new year and each day long after, we should be so intentional as to show up for ourselves. All that we are so quick to seek from in others, is already within us. Comfort, love, respect, and validation are all within you, ripe for the picking.
And if that is not the case now, then it is well worth the effort to practice showing up for yourself in these ways. Because how can we show up for others if we cannot show up for ourselves?
We should seek to be whole in ourselves first. There is no person, place, or thing that can complete you. You are your own person, whole and complete.