The road to wellness is paved with good intentions.
But, confusingly, the road to ill-health and disease is also paved with those same good intentions.
What? Yes, good intentions are necessary but not sufficient. Success lies in what you do with those intentions. Failure lies in considering the task complete simply by forming the intentions but not taking action.
Most moments of most days present us choices. The choices we make and the ensuing implications dictate how our lives unfold. Every choice we make has a direct influence on our lives.
Some of these choices are; front of mind, consciously accessible and made with intention. Some other choices require a reactionary response due to unintended circumstances. Still more of the choices we make are unconscious, without consideration or forethought. It is this last category that dominates our busy lives.
This is not surprising. The vast majority of us are spread thin for time and every bit of energy is already allocated. Easy choices that check a lot of boxes, like stopping at the drive through because eating at home is a pain or skipping your exercise because work is out of control are just 2 examples out of an almost endless list.
So, our lives end up getting overwhelmed by a steady stream of unintentional decisions that are being made for us by uncontrollable forces like: insane work loads, unforeseen circumstances and simply running out of time. This stream of unintentional decisions is worth the effort to disrupt because it leads to stress, and ill health. The way you disrupt this cycle is to be intentional around as many decisions as possible.
By making most of your lifestyle and wellness choices consciously and with forethought you win on multiple levels. The first place you win is in the present moment. The very moment which you are living through and aware of, right now. This “present moment” can look many different ways. It can be filled with energy, vitality, clear cognition and enhanced mood. or it can be lethargic, physically painful and sedentary.
The best way to avoid the lethargic, physically painful and sedentary experience and instead, live the vital, clear and enhanced present moment, is to make as many choices as possible about your physical well-being with as much intention and forethought as possible.
The second way you win with intention is in your experience of future moments, once they arrive. The choices you make now not only effect your present moment experience of life, they inform your long-range forecast.
The future moment can look a lot of different ways. It can be long lasting, engaged and filled with life. Or it can be declining and uncomfortable.
You can intentionally chose to live both the present moment, and the future moment in: strength, vitality, clarity and happiness simply by acting with intention around as many lifestyle and wellness choices as possible.
But how? Anticipate and prioritize. If you want to exercise consistently, eat healthy foods and get enough rest you need to look into the future and see where the challenges are going to be. If you’re short on time how can you exercise more efficiently? If you don’t have time to prep all your own meals, what are the healthy alternatives? If getting enough sleep will be an issue what can you do to get more?
Some examples: a 10 minute HIIT session at home instead of skipping exercise altogether. Getting a to-go salad from the grocery store instead of hitting the drive through (you really don’t want that pink slime anyway). Take a break from Netflix and get a few extra zzz’s.
None of the above alternatives are complicated, cost more, require much more time (sometimes less) or result in deprivation. What they result in is a vastly improved level of health now and into the future.
When you prioritize your health and anticipate upcoming circumstances you can make conscious decisions, with forethought that are in your best interest. That is what intention is all about.
The individual choices that flow from anticipation and prioritization (i.e. intention) are as varied as are the people making the choices. This is a skill based approach to well-being and will require practice. And everyone’s skillfulness looks a little different so be patient and find what works best for you individually.
The benefits of a lifestyle lived with intention are self sustaining because they return strength, vitality, clarity and happiness. They will also result in the discovery of your true preferences, strengths and opportunities. So your healthy lifestyle will not only be sustainable but also your most preferred.
By making decisions with intention you can live your best life, now and far into the future.