Start Your New Year With Intention

I've learned to be more intentional with my time by pausing before each decision.

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Johner Images/ Getty Images
Johner Images/ Getty Images

Each new year brings the promise of a new start. How about being more intentional about how you spend your time? We, as a society, are generally careful about how we spend our money, but not so careful about how we spend our time. Yet time is the one thing we cannot buy or get more of if we waste it. When it is spent, it is gone.  And we really never know how much time we have left in our lives.

One way in which I have become more intentional with my time is to practice a pause before I commit to anything. I ask myself whether it is something I really want to do, or if I am considering doing it to please someone else. I ask myself if it is something that will unnecessarily deplete me, and keep me from being able to do something I have planned for myself. I am able to say no now — a huge step for a recovering people-pleaser.

And I practice saying no without offering excuses. Having another commitment may simply be a commitment to self-care, including rest and sleep. We do not owe people an explanation for our choices. Our first obligation is to ourselves.

We all need some down time, and the art of relaxing can take many forms. But if we allow ourselves to stay in a routine, life becomes dull and treadmill-like. I am not throwing shade at watching television to relax, but not every day. We should all be cultivating joy and serenity in our lives. Having new experiences from which to continue to grow is a way to do that. When we stop learning new things, we start dying.

The biggest regrets expressed by those on their deathbeds are not that they did not make more money. The regrets most commonly include not spending enough time with the people who mean the most to them, working too much and not allowing themselves to be happier. It is not too late to ensure that these regrets need not be yours.  And the new year presents a natural time to start anew.

Your best gift to the world is you. So start taking care of yourself. Start showing yourself the respect and love you deserve. It is only when you truly love yourself that you can be in healthy relationships with others. It is only when you take good care of yourself that you can care well for others. No more snapping at someone — or worse — because you are overtired. Remember that you cannot pour water from an empty cup.

It’s your life; it’s up to you what you do with it!

Check out 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life (Rowman & Littlefield 2018) for more suggestions for reinvigorating your life.

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