Photo via iStock
Intend: Latin, "to stretch out one’s attention toward." Reflect: Latin, "to bend one’s thoughts backwards." At this time of year, there are a lot of things we stretch our attention towards: Eating better. Exercising more. Spending more time with our kids and less on our phones. Quitting bad habits. Starting better ones. I have never been a big fan of resolutions. I’d rather not make promises to myself (and others) that I cannot keep. There is something about turning over a new page on the calendar that makes us stretch ourselves a little too far. And then we feel sucky when we fail. Like an elastic band stretched too tight, our best intentions can sometimes lose the trajectory and shoot off into space. Or worse, snap back and leave us with an unsightly gouge, commemorating our mistakes. When I think back to moments in my life when my best intentions snapped back in my face, almost every single moment was one where I was horribly unrealistic with myself. Not only with my goals, but also with an open and gentle heart about who I am. For example, I hate the gym. It’s smelly and gross, and as a painfully introverted person, the idea of running alongside other people makes me feel paralyzed. Why would I ever buy a gym membership? Or, I have four kids. They are smelly and gross (Kidding! I LOVE my kids and they bathe regularly!) Life in my house is hectic, even if I am a work-from-home consultant. So the idea of hammering my day into clear cut blocks of routine isn’t going to happen. Why would I spend money on a fancy agenda that I’ll use for two weeks tops, only to get lost under stacks of Lego Club magazines and drawing of Minecraft mobs?
"When our intentions and actions are guided by spirituality—our belief in our interconnectedness and love—our everyday experiences can be spiritual practices." - Brené BrownRealizing there are certain things that will simply never work in my life is not admitting failure. It’s being reflective about who I am, what I’m capable of, and what aspects of my life I truly need to change and what ones aren't worth fighting. If we are to successfully stretch our attention outward, we must first bend back into ourselves. And then move forward. I’ve devised a two-pronged regular practice that helps me move forward with intention—every day, not just at the beginning of the new year.