Living with Intention
Two months ago, I attended a meeting at my son’s school where the guest speaker was talking about Anxiety Disorders and children. This has been a topic on many people’s minds as the pandemic, and isolation, drags on. In talking about emotional reasoning, the speaker said that people need to, instead, “live with intention.” Emotional reasoning is used when we say we will do something when we feel like it. The example used was “If I feel like it, I will exercise.” The speaker joked that if that were the case most of us would never exercise. We all laughed and then went on with the discussion. But this phrase of living with intention stuck with me. And never was the point more realized than a few short weeks later when I was out on my long weekend run.
I am training for a marathon in November which was supposed to happen last year but was cancelled and postponed. So, I took the opportunity to continue training but really being mindful about it and trying to get my speed up and then my mileage up before I start my formal 6-month speed training schedule as I am hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
The week before I ran 9 miles. This week was the same. Same route. Same time of day. No pressure on myself for pace. Just a “get out there and do it” kind of run. It was hard. I was tired. I wanted to quit. I made it just past 6 miles and it was time for a GU. Instead of eating it while running, which is what I would normally do, I pulled over. I rested and checked in with myself. My muscles were fine. My breathing was fine. Nothing hurt. It was just “hard.” I took out my phone and texted my husband: “I don’t really want to run anymore. This is why it is good to go outside instead of the treadmill. Because I would probably quit. But I have less than 3 miles to get home. I can do it. I just don’t ‘feel’ like it. So instead, I’m taking a break while I eat my GU. And then I will keep going. I love you.” I put my phone back in my pack, finished my GU, and ran home. I didn’t get a response from my husband. Actually, he didn’t even know I had sent the text until I got home and told him. He had been working out himself and didn’t have his phone. But just sending the text was enough for me. When I got home and calculated my pace, it turns out I took 2 minutes and 14 seconds off my time from the previous week. That’s why it was so hard! I was running 15 seconds faster per mile without realizing it.
Living with intention is about making choices. Everyday. Maybe big, maybe small. But it all boils down to: Who do you want to be as a person? Make a choice to do or be something. It is all too easy to sit down and scroll through your feed and before you know it an hour (or 2!) has gone by. Don’t live on auto-pilot. Get out there and really live!
I feel like my experience is a great roadmap to follow for anything we want to accomplish. You too can live with intention by following these 6 steps:
1. Evaluate your life and decide on a goal for something you would like to do or accomplish or be.
- Mine is to BQ. Other goals could be to learn a new vocabulary word every week for one year, or maybe spend a half hour doing something active everyday, or spending more 1-on-1 time with your kids, or spouse/partner, or reading a book, or reaching out to friends you have lost contact with, or learning to play the ukulele, or washing the dishes after meals instead of stacking them in the sink…the list is really endless. The point is to choose something. Anything.
2. Come up with a plan for how you are going to be successful and tell someone. (It holds you accountable)
- I have a professional BQ speed marathon training schedule I am following and told my family I was going to train for the marathon and talked about what the time commitment looked like.
3. Work your plan.
- I follow the plan for my runs. I’m not perfect but I strive to hit those runs every day they are scheduled.
4. (You will) Experience roadblocks.
- Sometimes I have other commitments or I don’t feel like running because, not a newsflash, running is hard!
5. Reevaluate and adjust as needed.
- Sometimes I will adjust the days or distances on the schedule due to my other time constraints. Sometimes I have injuries that require me to back off speed, distance, or doing a run altogether.
6. Be honest with yourself and give yourself grace/Suck it up.
- There have been times when I tweaked my knee or my hip is hurting. I stop running. Injury is not something to power through. You have to take care of your body if you want your body to take care of you. This is NOT a “suck it up” time.
- Some runs have really really sucked. I did NOT want to do them. If I have one I am really hating, I stop. But I have to really not be into it. Its ok to take a break from the plan if needed. A physical need for running is easy to think of, but also a mental health day can be necessary.
- And then sometimes I check in and I just don’t feel like it. But I can do it. So, I do it. I might need to just power through, counting down the mileage. Or I might need to pause, tell a loved one how I’m feeling, and then get back on the horse and keep going.
- You might need to alter your goal or timeline slightly. Altering is fine. Give yourself that grace. Just keep going! Don’t quit.
When we are setting goals and hoping to learn new skills, or trying to better ourselves as a person, the road to get there is often hard because it is new and different. We are probably going to fail at the new skills, at least a little, until we learn them. And since learning something new, or doing something new isn’t easy, we will often not feel like doing the learning. How many people enjoy practicing piano? How many people enjoy going to soccer practice? How many people enjoy doing drills over and over again? We want to just play and have fun. Often at the end of the day we are tired, and we don’t feel like doing much of anything, let alone a bunch of dishes. So, if you want to reach your goal, whatever it is, getting there can’t be based on emotion. But you have to look at the bigger picture of what you really want out of life. We can’t wait until we “feel” like it. Make a choice. Our actions must be based on intention.