Turning 40 with a Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis was the wake-up call I needed for intentional living. For years I was a “going through the motions” kind of gal. My goal was simple; move forward and don’t look back. Most of that mindset came from tragedies in my mid-twenties. However, that practice of completing one thing and moving on to the next became a habit and before I knew it 15 years of my life had passed without purpose to show for it.
Marriage, parenting, friendships, health, and fitness all became blurred into one thing, without recognizing their individual importance in my life. Once I began to change my mindset I started to become intentional with how I viewed and treated everything. The results were quick and yet profound because for the first time in my life I was living on purpose.
My marriage became stronger and better because I was paying attention to my actions and words. I began pausing more and reflecting on what intentional efforts were needed to let each small moment together count. Breaking old habits wasn’t as hard as I thought and things that I used to dread like throwing dinner together after a long, exhausting day, weren’t such a drag anymore. I began focusing how blessed I am to have the opportunity to make a meal or just simply eat together. Being intentional helped create moments that would have otherwise never happened. It created a happier environment because everything I did had meaning.
Parenting was similar. Once I allowed myself to stop and breathe, I began to view our obligations different. Life with four children was still crazy busy but being intentional about how I approached each commitment is what made the difference. I realized that each obligation was what I made out of it. I could either embrace these times and enjoy them or surge through and not make them count. Choosing to stop rushing and instead be present has made stronger bonds between my children and me and gave purpose to each moment.
Friendships can also feel like a burden if they are viewed as “one more thing” to maintain, instead of a blessing. Slowing down has allowed me to see the unique gifts that each friend brings to my life, what their needs are and how I can be intentional in their life. I’ve found that living intentionally expands beyond the mindset of just “me” and “my” needs and allows for personal growth and awareness for others. Approaching my friendships in this way has provided me with deeper connections, stronger bonds and a new level of trust because they know that I am fully invested rather than just going through the motions.
Health and fitness have proved to be worth my intentional efforts as well. Although I am cancer-free, it’s important for me to make what workout I do and what I eat count. Taking the time to ask myself if what I am eating or doing is adding value to my life, most of the time, is what helps me make smart decisions. Although I can’t control everything, having a purpose to be and live healthy is something I can control.
Taking action is great, but sometimes the pause in life is where we find purpose. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be, however, making a choice to be intentional in all areas of my life has served me and those close to me well. Living on purpose isn’t a mantra, fad diet or a once and done, it’s a mindset that we can all embrace with simple steps, diligence and a yearning to live the best life we can.