Thursday, April 30, 2009

Intentional Living

Ever since I developed a self-consciousness and started thinking for myself, I always valued the idea of intentional living. At least it always sounded good. To me, intentional living was always choosing my own path through life, not leaving things up to chance, having a reason for making the choices I make. My resolve hasn't always been the best, but it hasn't been bad, either. My choices have certainly been questionable, but I have tried to learn and apply the lessons to my life.

Sometime a few years ago, around the time I turned 30, I was struck by a realization that, to me, is closely related to this concept of intentional living. My realization was that life is no longer in the future, but is in the present. This may seem trivial, obvious, or even unimportant, but to me, it was a watershed moment. We spend so much of our lives preparing for the future that it is difficult to change gears or even know when to make that change. We go to school in order to prepare for a career; we spend a career preparing for retirement. We buy a starter home so that we can eventually buy a larger home that will serve the needs of the family in our future. We spend our late twenties and thirties acquiring things to add to that home and life that will one day meet our goals of what home and life are supposed to be. Now don't get me wrong, I am a proponent of being smart and being prepared and working for goals, but at some point one has to decide that the now is just as important as the future. This was huge for me because it freed me from worrying about all of these goals and expectations that had for so long been before me (most of which were not even my own but were, instead, inherited from my family, peers, media, etc.). This also freed me to define, more specifically and more relevantly, the intentions for which I should live.

This intentional living stuff is still a process, though. And lately it has been confusing and jumbled. Part of this was because I have still held onto many ideals that do not really jive with my intentions. Many of these ideals, much like the goals and expectations mentioned above, have been inherited, but many have also defaulted due to lack of consideration on my part. I would try to make decisions, but then other arguments would come to mind and the correct answer would not always be apparent. In case this is confusing, I am talking about anything from how to budget a paycheck to what books or movies I consume. Very practical life actions. With fighting ideals and philosophies, coming to a conclusion can be quite a difficult task.

(An aside.. most people consider me a pretty laid back person and may be confused about me stressing about this stuff.. truth be told, I don't stress about these things, I merely try to consider actions and alternatives instead of just going with the flow... if it gets stressful, I typically default to the flow, but I am trying to intentionally modify my defaults.)

So that leads me to where I am now. I am on a personal "mission" to define, for myself, the philosophies by which I want to live my life and make practical decisions. Then, once I have figured where I stand about a particular area of my life, I can intentionally change my life (if necessary) to be better aligned with my own personal philosophy. I will probably also record these actions in similar fashion. The "mission" aspect of this is simply the record-keeping. By writing down my thoughts, I am better able to understand how to move forward and stick to my decisions.

By "define", I will be writing (typing) down the conclusions I come to. This document, in its raw form, will not be available for public consumption, but I do plan to publish some of my thoughts and actions on this here forum. For those of you who fine this all boring and nonsense, I will still post with my normal drivel, but by recording philosophies and decisions here I serve a couple of purposes. One, I can be challenged by others with concepts or angles I hadn't considered on my own. Two, by recording thoughts and resolutions on such a public forum, I will guarantee myself a higher level of accountability to myself; for me, writing such things is not taken lightly. Note that I neither expect anyone else to hold me accountable (and pray grace if I do not follow through) nor am I in any way evangelizing any of my philosophies or actions.

Don't be surprised if you don't see anything related to this for quite a while, but putting this post out there is, for me, the first step in raising my life to a higher level of intention.

Please bear with me..... I'm figuring it out...

No comments: