I’m doing things different this year…instead of goals, resolutions, manifestations or intentions, I am focusing on my own mental health and emotional growth. Because quite frankly, last year didn’t do it for me. I ended the year, like so many others, an anxiety ridden, news addicted mess who compulsively cleaned, ate and drank, waiting, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t want to spend another year feeling like that.

So how do I want to feel? Once I choose how I want to feel, I can use those emotions as a framework for planning my life to include more activities and habits that support and encourage those feelings. But the brain and what goes on in it must come first because not only is it the origin of all my goals and intentions, but it’s the saboteur of them, as well.

After a long thought process, I came up with five emotions that fit me—individualized emotions that create within me a sense of well-being. They are:

  • Aligned
  • Affirmed
  • Free
  • Accomplished
  • Intentional

I started with a long list, but finally whittled it down to these five. Then I added notes on what these emotions meant to me. Today, I’m exploring intentional, which isn’t really an emotion, is it? What do I mean when I say I want to feel intentional?

From Merriam Webster:
in·ten·tion·al | \ in-ˈtench-nəl , -ˈten(t)-shə-nᵊl \
Definition of intentional
1: done by intention or design : INTENDED
intentional damage
2a: of or relating to epistemological intention
b: having external reference

VOLUNTARY, INTENTIONAL, DELIBERATE, WILLING. Done or brought about of one’s own will. VOLUNTARY implies freedom and spontaneity of choice or action without external compulsion. INTENTIONAL stresses an awareness of an end to be achieved.  DELIBERATE implies full consciousness of the nature of one’s act and its consequences. WILLING implies a readiness and eagerness to accede to or anticipate the wishes of another.

Those are very close to what I came up with during my private brainstorming session.

What does intentional feel like? For me, intentional feels thoughtful-understanding that there are no easy answers. Intentional feels like choosing, deliberating. It feels like the breath or pause before acting or reacting. It feels like awareness of what you are doing, while you are doing it.

Intentional feels like planning ahead or by design. Intentional feels calm. And lord knows I could use some calm.

So yes, I want to be more intentional. I want my choices and plans to be more intentional. I want to feel more intentional in every area of my life.

So how can I do that? I’ve always been a planner and I’m switching back to a paper planner after several years of using an electronic one. I’ll continue to use the outlook calendar for work, but for my personal use, I’m going with a paper planner that’s a combination gratitude journal, to do list, affirmation notebook and yes, daily scheduler. Carving out some time in the morning to plan out my day—work, as well as personal—has always helped me feel more grounded and mindful.

To create a sense of being intentional, I’ll be adding a mental why to my to do list. Whenever I put an item on the list, I’m going to ask myself why it’s there. Nothing big or complicated. It’ll be as simple as asking myself why I’m making banana cake today… because I have spotted nanners and I’m tired of banana bread. Why am I going to clean the garden window in the kitchen… because I can see grease on the glass shelf and I like things to be clean. Why am I going to re-write the third chapter in my manuscript… because it’s a damn mess. Knowing the why makes me feel as if I am being intentional. Why I’m doing that item is a good way to bring awareness to my daily activities.

Keeping a regular meditation schedule has always helped me be mindful. I’ve fallen away from it recently and only hit a few days a week… getting back into the habit of doing it more regularly will help me gain the space and time between a stimulus and an action. A few more moments in which I can act more intentionally and therefore feel more intentional and thoughtful about my behavior.

I have always been struck by the following quote: The unexamined life is not worth living.

I don’t know if the quote is entirely true or not, but it always made pausing to think seem like a worthwhile endeavor to me. And feeling intentional about my life brings me enormous satisfaction and joy. After last year, I need more of both those things.