How to live with intentional wellness? Every New Year, millions (probably billions) of people across the globe start off the year with some type of New Year’s Resolution. The New year, New Me approach. This year will be different. I’m going to get fit. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to do things differently. Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure we’ve all done this at some point!
It lasts a day, a week, maybe a month at best for most. Then we return to our same old patterns. We humans are a predictable lot.
It’s not your fault!
Did you know your brain is hardwired to work as little as possible and conserve energy? It is actually a hardworking device, despite appearances sometimes. Your brain works like a filing cabinet – each experience is logged as a file in the filing cabinet, and if an experience is a negative one, it also attaches a neurotoxin as a warning signal so that it can try and protect you from future similar negative experiences. So, when it has a file, then your brain knows what to do, and less energy is used. Pretty clever, right?
Your poor brain must work harder when it doesn’t have a file, and quite simply, it doesn’t like it because it doesn’t know what to do. It doesn’t have a file. We get a level of anticipatory nerves or anxiety because your brain is freewheeling – it’s looking for a file, it can’t find one, it doesn’t know what to do and it is feeling pretty out of control because it can’t predict what’s going to happen. And it gets tired because it’s working harder. So, when you stick to your same patterns, your brain is happy because it can go back to minimal work.
In comes the New Year. You start your latest health kick. Depending on your vice of choice, you might be getting some withdrawal symptoms – your brain and body is used to a certain level of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed food, lack of movement, whatever it is. Your brain and body rebel a bit. You might give up at this point, a day or 3 in. You might ride through for a week or so, and then you go back to work, and the predictable patterns kick back in because life has “returned to normal”. You might get a month in, until kids go back to school and “life returns to normal”. Your brain is defaulting back to it’s normal programming file. And so, another year passes. Maybe you’ll have a few goes throughout the year, maybe not.
What is missing?
What’s missing is your why! Why do you want to do this? Why do you want to make the change? What is the benefit of making the change? How will you feel when you achieve and embed the change? How will you feel if you don’t? This needs to be clear at the beginning, and something that you can access when times get tough, and default patterning starts to creep back in. You will always struggle with motivation and progression unless you have a reason to do something.
It’s also your direction in life. Are you living a Groundhog Day life, with no clear direction of where you want to head? Are you a passenger in your own life? Or – are you the captain of your ship, with a clear destination and itinerary. It’s really hard to get somewhere if you have no idea where you’re headed. Or why you want to get there.
Which brings us to intentional wellness. How are you meant to achieve intentional wellness without an intention? And what is an intention anyway?
To me, an intention is much the same as a goal. Your goal might be going to Disneyland in 2023. Or to renovate that kitchen. Your intention for wellness might be to feel calm. Or to have better relationships with people. Either way, it’s still a destination in a way – I’m here and I want to be there, I feel this, and I want to feel that. So, you set an intention. Then there’s the next step, which is the plan. A goal or an intention without a solid plan to get there is simply a wish. You can’t set your intention and sit in your room until the time arrives and hope that it’s going to walk in the door – we all know it doesn’t work like that. Intention setting can also be known as manifesting, either way it requires more input from you than simply waiting for it to be so.
So, you set your intention, and then connect your why to it. I want to have better relationships with people. Why? Because I feel more connected to my community when I get along. Remember, your why is so important to help you with motivation and progression and is good to revisit when times get tough, and those ingrained old patterns try to resurface with your brain pulling out those old files.
How do you set your intention? A couple of great ways to do that are through vision boards, and through journalling, whichever appeals to you, or even both! Either way, you can explore what you want and why you want it. I run vision board workshops with a difference, where we explore these topics so that your vision board is a real representation of the direction you want your life to take. You can check out my workshops here
Intention set, what next?
Next is the plan. Imagine it like the stepping stones along the path to the destination. What are the stepping stones that will lead to where you want to go? Work these out and plan them into your life. You don’t want to make ALL the changes at once, you will become overwhelmed, and your brain will help you to go back to old patterns to avoid the extreme discomfort that comes with overwhelm. Work out the things that need to be different for you to manifest your intention, and break them down into smaller, achievable chunks that will become your stepping stones. Attach milestone dates to them. This is not so you can kick yourself if you don’t meet a deadline, it is so you have forward progression and a plan. What do you want to achieve in 3 months towards your goal, or intention, or destination. In 6 months. In 9 months, and so on.
Then commit to these smaller chunks in a way that works for you. For me that is a paper diary. It could be a social media post. It could be your online calendar. Whatever it is that works for you is fine. Each smaller milestone, or stepping stone, reflect on
This is both the easiest and the hardest part. If wellness is the destination, intentional wellness is the journey. It’s the stepping stones. Intentional wellness is how you decide to show up each on your journey along your path. How you are working towards what you want, with intention and purpose. All the other steps, the vision, the why, the planning provide the clarity. How you show up each day is the intentional wellness. The wellness on purpose. Each day you show up for yourself is another file filed away in your brain, and this will help the uncomfortably new become the comfortable known pattern. Remember firstly it takes 21 days to create or break a habit, and 90 days to embed the new way of being. Secondly, things that are worth it take effort and consistency. This is intentional wellness.
Are you willing and ready to embrace intentional wellness?
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