Last year I felt compelled to follow the masses and chose a word of the year. The word I chose was grand and eloquent. And though it was certainly not intentional, I failed my word of the year. I failed at being intentional.
Choosing My Intentional Word of the Year
Last year, I realized that my days were swimming out of control. I had grand plans, but only a tiny percentage of them were coming to fruition. Most days I was feeling overwhelmed. I was floundering in each day, and creating bigger to do lists while feeling like I was never getting anything accomplished. I had visions of my children working beside me to learn and create memories. I saw us laughing through the day and building relationships. Of course, I also envisioned a clean house, home cooked meals every night, laundry always caught up, cheerful, content children and, as a bonus, a trimmer me.
So, I worked through my yearly word worksheet and realized I could have it all. It was just a matter of coming up with the perfect word of the year. I had to focus and make it happen. It was so simple. I would be intentional. I would intentionally plan our meals in advance. I would intentionally schedule time with each of my darling children and date nights with my husband. I would intentionally organize our household chores and do a load of laundry every day. Oh, and I would intentionally begin an exercise routine.
My Plan to Be Intentional
I immediately put my plan into action. I began with the most important aspect of the plan…a new planner. I needed a place to schedule my intentional days and weeks and it needed to look pretty. I have a planner addiction that is only rivaled by my curriculum addiction.
The next part of putting my plan into action was to buy magnetic boards for my refrigerator and schoolroom walls. On these, I would plan our weekly meals and our daily chores. Things were shaping up nicely. I then began a plan to exercise. I thought I would tackle my addiction to social media and made a plan to only allow myself to peruse social media while I was exercising. And to keep up with how much I was exercising, I bought a Fitbit.
The final piece to the puzzle was a daily reminder of my plan to be intentional. I ordered a bracelet with three charms that represented important parts of my life. One of those charms was stamped with the word “intentional.” I was now prepared to be intentional. It had taken me three months, but I felt ready to take on the still fairly new year and be intentional in all parts of my life.
How I Failed at Being Intentional
The plan was beautiful. It was detailed. It was intentional! It worked beautifully for the next 4 months. The new homeschool year began and it was working marvelously for the first month. Then somewhere between month 8 and month 12, it all fell apart. The boards were still hanging up with detailed menus and chores, but they were weeks old. The planner was there with empty pages. The laundry was piled up and I was surfing the internet while laying in the bed at night. My Fitbit was telling me to get up and walk and I was ignoring it. Somehow I had once again lost my way and that’s when I realized that I had failed to be intentional. And in an ironic twist of fate, I lost one charm from my bracelet…the one stamped intentional.
Lessons I Learned About Being Intentional
So where had I gone wrong? How had all my diligent plans to be intentional failed me?
What I discovered (after more months of review) was that it didn’t really matter how much planning I had put into being intentional, my heart wasn’t in it. I thought a plan and a schedule would give my home peace and give me the feeling of success as a mom and a wife. But, I was missing something important. I was missing the heart of the plan.
In all the planning and buying of new things to make my life easier, I hadn’t changed my heart. I was still bewildered trying to be everything to everybody. I was trying to be perfect in the view of the world. Because what is a perfect mom? She has a clean house. Her kids have clean clothes. Her family is fed nutritious meals and given devoted daily time. She is always attractive and full of energy. And, her home is happy and cheerful.
In all honesty, I was able to pull that off during our relaxed summer days. But, I couldn’t sustain it and here’s what I learned about myself and being intentional:
- There is no such thing as a “perfect mom”. There is a “perfect now mom”. I need to be the mom my kids need now – not what I imagine they need based on what other families look like. Maybe the kids need home cooked meals, maybe it’s ok if they are just fed. Maybe it doesn’t matter if someone else prepared the meal (even if sometimes the someone else is Chick-Fil-A). Maybe the laundry piles sit on the floor for a couple of days. Maybe the house isn’t as clean as I would want it. Maybe I wouldn’t get back to my pre-children weight. Maybe some things wouldn’t happen. The truth is that if I could sustain one or two of these things for any length of time, I would be happy.
- Set your priorities. I know I can’t be a perfect mom. But, I can be a mom that makes me proud. I just have to choose which of all these intentional things are most important and put them at the top of my list. I can’t be intentional in everything all the time. But, I can be intentional about the things that are the most important.
- I needed help. Honestly, I can’t be all things to all people. I need help. I need help from my family. But, more importantly, I need help from God. I need to start my day with prayer. I need to clear my head and give all my worries to God. Once I can do that, I can relax. Then the day will go as it goes and if something in the plan doesn’t fall into place, then it’s ok.
Being intentional is more than planning, though planning is a part of it. But, your heart has to be involved. There has to be a true desire to make things a priority in your life for your family and not just because it’s what “looks good.” I tried to be all things to all people and I failed in them all. Today I choose to be intentional in my love for my God and my family. All else will work out…or maybe it won’t. But, that’s ok, because I’m intentionally being what I need to be for today.
How are you being intentional in your own life?