The Power of Intentionality

Happy April, 1N5 family! We are leaving January, February, and March behind, which means that the first quarter of 2019 is officially over. At least in Columbus, we’re finally having some less frigid and snowy days. The sun is starting to shine a little brighter and the air is starting to feel a little warmer. I wouldn’t say that spring has totally arrived in full force, but it’s definitely creeping in and I am thrilled. My head and my heart just feel a little lighter and a little brighter in the spring—sunshine is good for the soul. While I’ve been absolutely loving the changes in the weather and the thought of the semester coming to a close, it’s sometimes scary how fast the time goes. We are 25% of the way through 2019! Is it just me, or is this year flying by?

I think we typically reflect on the year in December, and maybe as students around final exams. Something I’ve really tried to implement in my life is reflecting more. When you start to recognize your own worth, you start to show up for yourself in your daily life. Even the smallest changes make such a difference. Little by little, you start to show up as the best version of yourself in your goals and that feels amazing. But when that sense of worth starts to settle even deeper in your soul and becomes a part of who you are, something even more amazing happens. Not only do you show up for your goals, but your goals get bigger. When you recognize your worth, you give yourself permission to dream bigger and strive for more.

There’s something so powerful in deciding to be more intentional about your life, and it all starts with giving yourself that permission. So if we are committed to this hard work that I’ve talked about in previous posts, to recognize our worth, to be intentional in our self-talk, to invest in our self-care, how do we tap into that permission to strive for more? This isn’t some abstract, warm and fuzzy question. Fundamentally, we are asking ourselves how every aspect of our lives change when we love ourselves. We are asking ourselves what our lives would look like if we created space for abundant love to drive our thoughts and actions. The biggest way to see this change is through deep reflection on how our lives have been in comparison to how we would like them to be. This brings us to my quarterly reflections. I find reflecting on each quarter so helpful because it’s a long enough span of time to really see the habits and routines that are dominating my life. Our days and weeks tend to fluctuate so much depending on what’s on the agenda, but a three-month overview is the perfect window to really see how we’re doing on a deeper level.

I wanted to share the way I set up my quarterly reflection because I’ve tried just about every journaling and reflection technique out there. For me, I want the time I spend in reflection to accomplish two things—1. I want to genuinely check in with how I am showing up for my mind, body, and soul. I want to celebrate the victories and examine the shortcomings. I want to be proud of what I achieved while confronting the more challenging parts of my life. 2. I want my reflection to serve as a game plan for the next quarter. It’s not something I do just for the sake of doing it. My reflection serves as the proof of where I am best showing up for myself and others, and where I can strive for more.

Some of you might be feeling a little bit lost with this concept. I know when I sat down to reflect, I didn’t really know where to start. How can we dream bigger and strive for more when we don’t have a clear picture of where we are? The hard part about this is that sometimes where we are makes us uncomfortable. We get into this mindset that there is just too much space between our starting point and the finish line. The best thing about quarterly reflections is that it’s different from a New Year’s Resolution or a homework assignment. You’re focusing less on the end date and more on the journey. You know that in three months’ time, you’re going to reflect again. What kind of amazing progress could you make in that time? What kind of amazing progress could you make today? What if that meant just taking one step forward? Maybe you don’t cross all that distance between where you are and where you want to be in one go, but you’re undoubtedly closer than you were yesterday.

My favorite way to start my reflection off is by “brain dumping” my victories. I just take a blank piece of paper and write down anything that comes to mind that I am proud of for this quarter. These victories can be anything, big or small. Some of my victories spanned the whole quarter, like “having a strong spring semester academically”, “trying new exercises at the gym”, “saying ‘no’ when I needed it”. But some of them were incredibly specific, like “mustering up the courage to ask for that recommendation letter”, “submitting my degree plan by the early deadline”, and “deciding to buy jean shorts (and feel amazing in them) for the first time in five years”. The point is that anything that you did in any area of your life that you worked hard for, feel proud of, are excited about, etc. counts as a victory. Nothing is too small or insignificant. Get as many down as possible. You can even do what I did and flick through your planner or calendar to jog your memory. When you take the time to reflect on your victories, you see exactly where you have been most enthusiastically showing up for yourself in your life.

This reflection on your victories is crucial to the next step—ask yourself what’s missing. When you look at your victories, is there an area of your life that you wish was reflected but isn’t? One of the ways I decided where I was lacking was by categorizing my victories into the nine dimensions of wellness. It sounds tacky (and is a total Resident Advisor move), but it really does help. If you’re not familiar, the nine dimensions are physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, creative, social, career, environmental, and financial. I tried to put my victories in these categories to see which were dominating my life. I was really proud of the investment I made in my physical, emotional, and career wellness in the first quarter. There is power in giving yourself permission to celebrate your victories. There is power in saying, “I am proud of the work I’ve done.” There is power in finding joy in the process. But I also saw where I wasn’t showing up for myself. Spiritual wellness. Creative wellness. As a college student, I feel like I’m always stressing about financial wellness. The reality is that you might actually be making progress in these areas, but what’s important is that you don’t feel like you’re showing up for yourself. Is there a part of your life where you aren’t showing up as the best version of yourself? Is there a part of your life where the way you show up doesn’t reflect your worth?

Once you’ve celebrated your victories and reflected on where you aren’t showing up as enthusiastically, you can decide where to focus your energy for the next quarter. Visualize the next three months—April, May, June. What does your life look like when you show up for yourself in the areas that matter most to you? What does your life look like when you show up in a way that reflects your amazing worth? How amazing could April, May, and June be if you not only set goals, but were accountable in your self-love and showed up to achieve them?

 I know sometimes when I hear people talk about this kind of reflection, it can seem a little bit tacky. I find myself saying, “Well, I think about my goals. I don’t need to sit down and write them out. I’m doing okay. I just need to get through today.” When push comes to shove, that thought process doesn’t feeling like showing up for myself. It doesn’t feel like choosing me. I never want my self-care and self-love to be accidental. I never want them to be casual. I want the relationship I cultivate with myself to be the most intentional thing in my life. Deciding to get intentional about your vision for your best life means you are declaring to yourself that you are worth the work, worth sitting down and reflecting, worth setting AND achieving the goals. Deciding to get intentional about the life you live means you show up each day with purpose. The first quarter is over, and no matter how it went, you are enough. What are you celebrating? The first quarter is over, but the second one is just beginning. What will you be celebrating?

I hope your first quarter sparked joy. I hope your first quarter was overflowing with self-love. I hope your first quarter was intentional. If this first quarter was a struggle, I see you. If the goals went unmet, you are not alone. If your biggest victory this quarter was surviving it, celebrate that. If you are living, breathing, reading this post, you have something to celebrate. You are something to celebrate. The next 25% is yours. What will you do with it?

Choose radiance. Choose fearlessness. Choose you.

With light and love,