And seeing that it’s still January, let’s elaborate a little more about starting the New Year off with intentions!
Why Intentions and NOT Resolutions?
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not a big fan of resolutions…
I find the idea of a new year’s resolution tends to be overwhelming. And more often than not, they set us up for failure.
We build up this idea in our mind of all the goals we’ll crush and all the things we’ll accomplish, and when we fall short (even just a tad), we get down on ourselves. We give up.
For myself, I prefer to focus on setting intentions. For the year ahead. As well as for the day ahead.
An intention is a guiding principle or mindset that you want to adopt, rather than a specific goal. It can be a feeling you want to feel. Or the energy you want to bring with you into the year ahead.
There are many different ways to set an intention (and a whole lot less rules than setting goals or resolutions 😉)
Last week, I shared my intention setting with the help of the Dan Sullivan Question. This particular intention was geared towards the next three years of my life.
But for 2023…
I Decided on Setting an Intention with my ‘Word of the Year’
This year, I’ve chosen my intentional word as “growth.”
I’ve finally hit a point in my life where I’ve come to realize that we are always growing and always learning.
That we are meant to always grow and learn.
And that comfort and stagnation are not a part of our journey. There never will be a final comfortable destination in this beautiful human experience…
There will never be a point reached where we’ll say: “Okay, that’s it, I’ve learned all there is to learn in this life. I’m complete.”
It’s just not going to happen.
So instead, I’ll embrace the forever growth.
(Side note: Growth is not always linear… It’s more like a cycle… Like nature moving through seasons, our growth changes. Sometimes we grow up towards the sky. Other times we take a step back and shed our leaves. But even during those step backs, we grow from them. It is all part of the growth process.)
So this year, to follow through with my intentional word, I plan to say yes to the things I’ve always wanted to learn and try.
To start saying yes to the things I’ve always said:
“One day, I’d like to learn this…”
“One day, I’d like to try that…”
And we all know that “one day” just keeps slipping further away.
Until it never happens at all.
And let me tell you, I’m done putting off growth.
In the last quarter of 2022, I read the book “The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. This book shed some light on the fact that I have more time than I ever thought. That we all have more time than we think.
And we are always capable of learning and growing – especially if it is something we prioritize because we truly desire it for ourselves.
I Desire Growth
And I will do what it takes to keep this intentional promise I made with myself…
This year, I’ll be trying a whole lot of new things.
And learning a LOT more of the things I’ve always wanted to learn.
I hope that by sharing my intention of growth, it will inspire you to set your own intentions for the year. And to embrace the idea of forever growing.
Life Really Is One Big Giant Classroom.
Embrace each opportunity to learn and grow! Or MAKE your own opportunities!
I’m ready to make this year one of growth, one of trial and error, and one of learning from mistakes.
I just love ringing in the New Year! It offers me a time to reflect…
So much has happened over this past year.
A lot of lows that turned into highs.
A lot of synchronicities that I’m glad I followed. Even if they were heartbreaking at first.
I was Forced to Pivot and Head into the Unknown…
But I’m grateful for them all! Every single experience…
Because they led me to where I am now.
And boy, am I ever happy to be here. Right here.
With Each New Year that Rolls Around, We Reflect and then Redirect.
We redirect our paths. We set new goals for ourselves – To help along in this beautiful journey we’re all on.
Yes, I goal set too. But, I don’t typically wait for the start of a new year to set goals.
I set them all the time!
I Love Setting Goals. Crushing Goals. Changing Goals.
It’s all part of the process of life.
What I LOVE to do at the start of the year, though, is set my intentions.
My intentions, not just for the year ahead, but for my future self.
I align myself with where my spirit wants to take me. I breathe in my intentions fully.
In an attempt to live my intentions wholeheartedly.
And yes, while you could say goals and intentions are one in the same – I consider them slightly different.
Goals are SPECIFIC – They have a beginning and an end.
Whereas my intentions are in alignment with my purpose, my mission (and are slightly more general).
I Read a Book at the End of 2022 that Helped me Set My Intentions Moving Forward
The book is titled: The Dan Sullivan Question, by (you guessed it!) Dan Sullivan.
It asks one simple question…
(Turns out, it’s not simple at all, but it sure is thought provoking!)
The question goes like this:
“If we were having this discussion three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years, what has to have happened in your life, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”
It sure makes you think!
I spent some time sitting with this question… I reflected on it. I journaled it.
After doing so, I now know the obstacles that are in my way. And I know what strengths I’ll need to harness to overcome them.
I feel like I have a direction. I know my path.
This question provided a whole lot of clarity for me.
Which is why I’m sharing it with you!
I hope you can find some clarity with this question too! And take that clarity with you into 2023.
Feel free to meditate on it. Journal it. Contemplate it.
Most importantly, realign with it often!
(I’ve already stuck a sticky note on my desk to remind me each time I need to come back to it! To refocus on the bigger mission ahead…)
And if you’re up for it…. Share your contemplations with me!
I’d love to hear YOUR intentions for yourself this new year!
There’s one thing in particular that has been weighing me down…
It’s that I can’t speakSpanish…
Even after 6+ years in grade school taking the language and being part of a Spanish family, I still can’t speak it fluently. Most definitely not comfortably.
Here’s the thing…
My Mom Is From Chile In South America. My Dad, On The Other Hand, Is Canadian.
We never spoke the language at home while I was growing up. Except for a few key words like “hola” and “ciao”.
While all my cousins were busy picking up the language that was being spoken around them, I couldn’t put together a single sentence. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my grandparents…
This Past Fall, My Grandfather Suffered a Stroke.
He wasn’t able to recover.
Just before Christmas, he passed away…
I thought long and hard about how my entire life I never had a full conversation with him – not unless someone translated for us.
I wish the language had stuck. I wish I could’ve had a real conversation with him.
Because He Had One Heck Of A Story To Tell…
During the 1970’s, Chile was anything but a peaceful place.
The military overthrew the Popular Unity government of President Salvador Allende. This was the start of military rule in the country.
Many Chilean citizens like my Grandfather, supported the efforts of President Salvador Allende. He brought civilian rule, stability and peace to the country.
But all of that ended in 1973 when President Allende was killed and the General of the Military Coup took over.
It became illegal to show any support for the old government.
And my grandfather…
Well… He was an activist who supported the old government.
The military dictatorship would raid homes and look for signs of support.
They found my grandfather.
He was taken away. He became a prisoner of this war.
I wish I could have asked him about it. I wish I could have gotten more details.
Although, even if I spoke Spanish, I don’t know that he would have been able to tell me everything without crying.
He disappeared for some time…
And when he returned to his family, they (along with other families who supported the old government) fled to Argentina.
But in Argentina, things weren’t any easier.
Homes were raided again and again by the military in search of supporters of the old government.
My mom, who was only 5 at the time, tells me how she remembers being forced out of their little temporary home and shuffled down the stairs with her 7 siblings. They would all wait until the search was over and they could return up the stairs.
I was told that my grandpa carried a picture of the old president and hid it while in Argentina. Luckily, they never found it.
Eventually, my family was able to leave the war-ridden land in search of a new home.
A New Home In Canada.
A friend of mine in university once wrote a paper on my grandfather. She interviewed him about his time as a prisoner in Chile.
Sadly, her computer was stolen and I never got the chance to read all that he said.
Another reason this regret of not learning Spanish hung heavily on my shoulders.
This Blog Post Is Not About Regret.
It’s about REFLECTING and LEARNING!
After all this, I realized… I still have one grandparent left – My beautiful Abuela.
And she has her own story to tell.
I decided that I didn’t want a language barrier to be the reason my grandmother could not tell me her story either.
I Took Action!
I made the decision to learn Spanish (finally)! For my grandmother and my grandfather.
And… I used the practice of Mindfulness to help me shift into a growth mindset to learn this new language!
Here’s how I’ve been learning Spanish with the help of Mindfulness:
1. Find Calm:
My first step in moving forward in my Spanish journey was to practice forgiveness. I had to forgive myself for not learning Spanish earlier. I had to let go of the past and move forward with the present. I had to find my calm and not let the past control my future. It all began with that mindset shift. To reflect and learn from my mistakes. And to remind myself that it’s never too late to learn something new.
2. Get Curious:
To learn from my past self and move forward, I had to ask myself a few questions. Questions like “Why hadn’t I been able to retain the language before?” “What can I do differently this time around?” “What can I use to motivate myself?”
Upon reflecting, I noticed that when I tried to learn Spanish before, it was as an adolescent. I was a kid who didn’t care and a kid who was not self-aware. I’ve changed since then and so has my motivation to learn Spanish. I was able to use these questions to nail down my WHY and HOW I wanted to proceed.
3. Make Connections:
Since I did have some experience being around the Spanish language, I could understand it slightly (only if someone spoke REALLY slowly), but I couldn’t speak it. I knew, to get better at speaking the language, I had to practice speaking the language.
I made plans to connect with family members and friends where we could have real conversations in Spanish. I even got myself a few penpals, young cousins of mine, who’d help me practice my written Spanish! I am grateful for my family’s patience with me.
4. Get Creative:
Since I was no longer in school, and didn’t have a dedicated time and class to attend Spanish, I had to figure out my own schedule to practice. I had to get creative!! And because speaking is much harder for me, I knew I had to practice any chance I got!
I live about an hour from most of my Spanish family and being with them all the time is not ideal.
So… this meant I started speaking to my boyfriend in Spanish (who is definitely NOT Spanish), I started speaking to my pets and even shared some of my thoughts out loud in Spanish. I realize I looked pretty crazy some days, but you gotta do what you gotta do!
5. Make a Commitment:
The final step was to make a commitment. To myself. To this life-long journey. And to not get discouraged when the going gets tough.
To make this commitment manageable, I broke down my commitments into small attainable goals. Goals that I could work towards every day. I adopted this practice of ‘Kaizen’ (a Japanese word that means continuous improvement through small, incremental steps). I committed to practicing 15 minutes of Spanish everyday through the Duolingo app. This was manageable. This has been something I’ve been able to commit to.
I also made the commitment to visit my Spanish family more. To speak with them more. I used to be embarrassed to visit them… Because I couldn’t really speak to them. But not anymore. Now, I CHOOSE to visit them to learn from them. Now, I feel like I belong.
Is There Something You’ve Been Wanting To Learn, But Something Has Been Holding You Back?
Maybe it’s a language too, or maybe you want to learn how to cook. Or maybe you’ve been waiting years to finally pick up that old guitar and learn how to play it.
Whatever your challenge is, I hope you can use this story as inspiration to push through those obstacles.
To use the power of Mindfulness to move forward in your learning and growth.
If you’re like me, you turn to a good book when you’re looking for answers.
We reach for the newest Self-Development, Spirituality, Finance or Business book on the shelf. Then, down it like a glass of ice-cold water on a hot day.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Or the classic: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
I’ve read all of these books.
I learned something from each of them.
But let me tell you, none of these books were as impactful as the children’s picture books I’ve read…
Picture Books For Adults.
While picture books are written to entertain children, I am convinced that they are actually designed for adults.
The lessons to be learned in a good picture book are just as important for us to digest.
The thing is, adults get corrupted by life. We get lost along the way.
We have busy lives, stressful jobs, and needy families.
The magic of simplicity and childhood gets tossed aside.
We only have time to focus on the “grown up” stuff.
We forget to nourish our inner-child.
Picture Books Pack a Punch.
All it takes is a 5 minute picture book to get whacked in the face with a heart-warming lesson. It hits us right in the feels…
We learn about life. We learn about ourselves.
They make us think:
“Oh right… that IS important… I should value that more…I should make more time for that…”
They bring us back to our inner-child.
Our Brains Love Stories.
A human’s brain is wired to digest and break down stories.
We analyze them and search for the meaning behind them.
Kids’ brains do this. Adults’ brains do too.
Think about it…
The hieroglyphics in Ancient Egypt…
… Drawn-out stories!
The tales from Indigenous groups…
… More stories!
Classic moral-inducing fables…
…. All stories!
Stories Are Human Nature.
It’s how we make sense of the world.
So, the next time you’re reaching for the newest self-development or non-fiction book… I challenge you instead… to grab a picture book!
You never know what lessons you’ll find…
Or what lesson will find you!
Mindful Miss T’s Recommendation of the Day!
By Kobi Yamada
A BEAUTIFUL picture book (That I am convinced is written for adults too!) about the endless potential in us all.
I received this book as a birthday gift last week and it reminded me of my purpose and reason for being here on this Earth. It reminded me that everyone has their own purpose. That everyone is here for a reason. Whatever that reason may be. And it is up to us to share our purpose with those around us. That WE are capable of anything.