According to the many experts in all-things-a-bit-woo, intention setting is absolutely vital to success and achieving goals. Without committing to the intent, we are a lot more likely to fail. My husband was having a chat in his office the other day and people were talking about what they were doing at the turn of the last decade. Which reminded him that we were fully engrossed in our firstborn, who was just five months old. Low key as it was, the evening was distinctly memorable. Together and happy (albeit exhausted) we wrote to-do lists for going into the new year and decade.
Encompassing everything from job promotions and life skills to massive challenges like buying a house (even though we had zero savings) and going back to Asia. Pretty much everything got ticked off that first year and writing a list became part of our New Year’s Eve tradition. Stay home, enjoy each other’s company and figure out what we want to achieve the next year. My infamous 2014 list consisted of two things: write the book and stay sane. Not only did I write that damn book, whilst on maternity leave with my third child, but I published it too. One of my greatest achievements to date and one I’d love to replicate every few years.
2015-2019 saw some of my toughest moments (check out my posts on autism and sleep deprivation and home education if you need a bigger picture to be painted). Survival mode was the order of the day for far too long and it’s simply not good enough anymore. Here, I am setting my intentions for the new year and decade, because come hell or high water: 2020 is going to be the year I truly THRIVE.
Intention Setting: Relationships
Without good relationships we are absolutely nothing, it really is as simple as that. Having the very best health and soundest mind would mean little, if my partnerships with my husband, kids and friends were in tatters – it would filter down. So above all else, my biggest intention this coming year and decade, is to work as hard as I possibly can to ensure my relationships are not just functional, but exceptional. 2019 has been a year of enormous personal growth, which has had a positive knock on effect. Now that certain patterns of behaviour are firmly established, they should (hopefully!) be easier to keep going.
Lots of my friends are in crisis mode. Truth be told, many of them have been for years, because of their own broken relationships which need work. As much as I am loyal and supportive when it comes to my friends, I am also getting better at recognising when a friendship has become unsalvageable. No small thing for me, because when I severed ties with my family, my friends took on that role (of family). What I have experienced these last few years, is that not everyone reciprocates that sentiment. Also, not everyone appreciates me as much as I appreciate them. And actually, that is fine. Letting go when friendships have crossed into toxic territory is an absolute must. If it’s temporary, they will always come back when they are ready.
When I just had my own feelings to consider, I was comfortable with intense friendships which went as quickly as they came along. Now I have the kids to factor in as well, it’s not so simple. I’m not happy to allow people to waltz in and out of my children’s lives. Having to dry your autistic child’s tears as she asks why such and such doesn’t want to be our friend anymore is not enjoyable. But that’s on them, not me. I’ve used every sad situation as an opportunity to teach my three lessons on emotions and seeing things from another perspective. Later on in life, no doubt, these lessons will be invaluable, but we can still take a moment to reflect upon the hurt that is caused while we’re going through tricky times.
Intention Setting: Health and Mental Wellbeing
Which leads me directly onto my next point. Allowing ourselves our emotions (and properly dealing with them) is the foundation of good mental health. Storing up our feelings gets us absolutely no where. Somewhere along the line, it was decreed that parents must act like robots. Not show “weakness” in front of our kids, blah blah blah. I disagree. My kids have been taught to understand when people are having a hard time. This has already landed poor Polly in hot water when she asked her friend questions she wasn’t able to handle. Which again was an opportunity for learning and growth.
Just as relationships are everything; good mental health is as vital to us as being physically healthy. Gabor Mate’s incredible book When the Body Says No: The Hidden Cost of Stress literally says it all. We eventually get the point where our bodies give up and get sick. So nurturing our minds and allowing the stress to come and go without it engulfing us, is a skill we must learn. Not easy, at all, but our overall health depends on it.
Allowing thoughts to come and go has been nothing short of life changing when I’ve managed it. Now I must master it. Along with getting my fitness back. Running and yoga are going to be my things next year. I’m not a natural runner by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s free and perfect for cardio exercise. So running it shall be – and I started on Christmas Day. Prior to having kids, I used to go to three or four hot yoga classes a week, and I’m determined for 2020 to be the year I get back to it. My husband’s gift to me was time, so I can make this happen. No excuses at all.
Above all else, I am setting the intention of stopping the search for silver bullets. There are no magic cures or quick fixes in life, but we’re all desperate to stumble upon them. Shocking amounts of money have been spent on so-called wonder supplements these last few years, but when all is said and done, you can’t beat a gut-healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of laughter. Might not be sexy or sellable, but it’s the long term solution to our physical health and mental wellness. End of story.
Intention Setting: Home Education
Cards on the table: I am not a natural teacher. Home education didn’t come easily to me – in fact in the early days I fought it tooth and nail. Felt we were backed into a corner and forced to do it. However, when we moved house (almost two years ago) I set the intention to start viewing it more positively and I’m now at the point where I actually enjoy it. The next step for me is to get better – MUCH BETTER – at teaching. Hubby is brilliant at this, and has been taking the kids lessons once a week. He engages them in a way I often don’t, which is the main thing that needs to change.
Flexible learning has been what we’ve needed until now, but I think we’re all ready for more structure. So, lessons plans and a more formal schedule are on the agenda. Possibly adding one more physical activity to the week as well. Lots of options, but rather than view it negatively with overwhelm, I am genuinely excited about the prospect.
Intention Setting: Writing and blogging
As many of you know, I have been writing a novel since 2015. Draft 13, I was convinced, was the lucky one, but alas, it doesn’t appear to be. Safe to say that I’ve had quite the journey with my writing this year – all the feels have been felt and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’ll happen when the time is right. I’m putting my faith in the universe on this one and you know what? If it doesn’t ever get published, then it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve also written a 5k word short story, which has had a fair bit of interest. Until now, the idea of developing it into an 80k word novel has been beyond daunting, but it was the same when I was writing the first draft of When the Stars Weep. With the right headspace, anything is possible.
Blogging has changed so much since I set up this little space, almost seven (!) years ago. Rather than following a person’s genuine journey, it’s all about who can SEO the bestest and do the most brand collabs. It’s a world I no longer fit into, so I’ve been thinking long and hard about where it goes from here. Recently, I’ve been blogging like I originally used to. Stream of conscious, from the heart and I love it – it’s made me see how valuable a voice like mine is in a world full of ads and clickbait.
Intention Setting: Social Media
Social media has always been a bit of a nemesis of mine. Deactivating Facebook this year taught me a lot about boundaries and surprisingly, I’ve ended up missing it. Like it or not, most people my age use Facebook to stay in touch with their loved ones, which is a good thing. So, I’ve unjoined every group and unliked every page that doesn’t spark joy. Also removed plenty of friends who I don’t have a genuine connection with. Tenuous links because of blogging or people I met once and will never see again. I have reclaimed my Facebook feed. Determined for it to become a place that makes me happy and connected – somewhere I want to spend time.
Instagram, however, is a slightly different beast. A few years ago it was the go-to “happy place” for people to share their photos and snippets of their lives. Then along came the dreaded algorithm, all-the-ads and ridiculous amounts of look-at-me-look-at-me. Regular folks I know are aware that most people on Insta chat nonsense and can’t be trusted. Bloggers can’t stand the place, but they’re in a catch 22, because it’s where the bulk of marketing budgets are spent. It’s been making me feel very uncomfortable for quite a while now. So I did what I did with Facebook and have deactivated my account. Might be short term, might be long term, who knows? What I do know is that I’m not missing it, in the slightest – it’s like a dark cloud has been removed from my head.
Twitter, for the moment, is dead to me. I was rather enjoying the rawness and authenticity on there, but post-election it’s turned into a cesspit of trolls and out and out nastiness. Much better to be avoided for the foreseeable. I’ve never been a Pinterest person and am not particularly interested in the other social media networks. My people have always been on Facebook, so Facebook it is.
Creating proper building blocks for this next decade should be easier, because of the lessons I’ve learnt during the one we’re leaving behind. No doubt there will be plenty more surprises, heart ache and difficult decisions, but my eyes are wide open and I’m feeling great about it.