living intentionally

Let’s talk about resolutions.

I’ve never been much of one for New Year’s Resolutions. I struggle with the arbitrary “now is the time I’ll make changes” nature of them. And with the reality that 5 weeks into them I’m probably going to fail at them. And then I’ll just have guilt. As a recovering perfectionist, I don’t need anything reminding me of my failure or inability to meet my goals.

At the same time, I’ve always been drawn to setting goals for myself. Have you ever heard the analogy of the salmon? You know about the salmon runs? Where after they have matured in the ocean, the salmon swim upstream back to the spots where they were hatched to spawn and create the next generation of salmon. They fight the fierce waters, jumping up waterfalls and rapids to return to their home. Stop fighting for one moment, and they’ll be swept back out to sea.


So it is in life with all of us. If we stop fighting to go in the direction we want, we are carried along someplace that we don’t choose. There is no stagnant. There is no “just being.” We either move in the direction of the life that we want, or we are carried along wherever the stream wants us, be that good or bad.

I don’t want to be carried along. I want to choose my life, as much as I am able. I want to be intentional about how I spend my time, what I do with my money, how I invest in relationships, in whom I love.

Instead of making resolutions, which fail the second they are broken, I have decided to set goals for myself. I’ve decided to paint a picture of the life that I want and lay out a few action points that will push me towards that life. Laying them out this way helps me to stay intentional about life choices without setting myself up for the guilt of failure. They are something I will have to keep working towards in life the entire year. Not to assuage my guilt for something I think I should be doing or because I am unhappy. But because I want to be intentional about my life.

So, as if that weren’t enough of an intro, here’s some of my goals for this year.

1. Start my days well. 
This past year, Rob and I started walking on trails near our house first thing in the morning. We’ve never been “morning people” by any means, but we’ve come to love our mornings. Between the endorphins from exercise, having time for ourselves in the morning before we rush off to work, getting to talk to each other before the madness of the day starts, getting to see the beauty of the sunrise each day, and having time to enjoy nice meals instead of eating in the car, it just starts our days off really well. But, when the alarm rings at dark-thirty, it’s way too easy to justify staying in bed. This year, I want to be more consistent about our mornings. It’s well worth it.

2. Take time to soak in beauty and go on adventures.
I don’t know about you, but I get way too busy in life. I try to be as efficient as possible. I try to maximize the use of my time. Or, when I’ve done that for too long, I crash into a pile of mush and can’t get off the couch because I’m too exhausted for anything. I want to change the pace of life this year. I want to take a break from making dinner to go sit out on our back steps for a few moments and watch the sunset instead of worrying about having dinner on the table right away. I want to take a walk at lunch and breathe in the smell of the grass instead of trying to send another email. I want to crank the music in the car on my commute and jam out to some songs instead of squeezing in another phone call. I want to call a friend for an hour and ignore the dirty dishes in the sink. I want to make cookies for friends just because. I want to make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book instead of getting sucked into the facebook timewarp. I want to play tourist in our own town on the weekends and explore the hidden gems that I always walk past.

3. Make time to write more. 
I love writing. I love writing this blog. I love writing for a blog we have at church. I love writing papers. (Sick, I know.) But, I haven’t been writing enough lately. Why? Because it’s so time consuming. This next year, I want to make time for it. I want to research, write, and pour myself into it. For years I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use my degree. This year I want to make some opportunities.

4. Say no to good things that steal my time from great things. 
I struggle with saying no. I always feel guilty. And it’s even harder when it’s something that I would enjoy. Or something that I know is necessary or beneficial to others. But, all too often, I get involved in things that are wonderful – except that they take me away from other things that would be even better. This year I want to be more discerning in this. I want to learn to say no when I need to.

What about you? What things do you want to do to create the life that you want? How can you create goals so that you can continue to swim upstream instead of being carried by the current?


3 thoughts on “living intentionally

  1. hey, i really like your intentional goals. you guys should come over for dinner tonight and we can discuss. 🙂

    On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 9:52 AM,

  2. Numbers 2 and 4 resonate very strongly with me as well. Very powerful stuff you have here. For a moment I thought I was reading or something written by one of the famous bloggers. And then I realized that Rachel has more than her fair share of wisdom on topics like these.

    Yay for being intentional! And thanks for a great read.

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