Building a Life You Love in 2017 (despite tough circumstances), Step 3

It struck me this morning that this is an interesting week for me to be focusing on setting intentions/goals/priorities for 2017 because tomorrow, in the U.S. where I live, Donald Trump is being inaugurated as president and my favorite president and first lady ever are leaving the White House.  It would be an easy time for me to focus on lost possibilities rather than hope for the future.

If you like Trump and are celebrating while I am grieving, or if you really don't care one way or the other, please don't leave me yet!  

I actually do want to keep building bridges across these big divides of understanding in our nation (and world) and you are more than welcome here. 

And this post isn't primarily about politics anyway.  It's about choices.

Specifically, it's about the choices we always have the power to make, regardless of circumstances.  

No, we don't have ALL the choices we want.  And I ABSOLUTELY believe that some people's choices are severely limited because of race, appearance, religion, gender, poverty and a whole lot of other injustices and inequities that I hope you and I will keep working to change.  

But, still, we always have choices.  

One of the things we can always choose is where we focus our attention and what stories we tell about ourselves and our circumstances, regardless of how limited our external choices are.

When something is happening that is beyond our control and not what we wanted, something that is deeply painful and even frightening—which for me at the moment is tomorrow's inauguration, but for you may be the cancer that's spread, or your child's struggle with bullies at school, or a big break up with your boyfriend, or a blizzard that's buried your car and screwed with your vacation plans—whatever that something is, you can still choose your focus.     

And setting intentions/goals/priorities (I know they aren't exactly the same, but I'm not sure it matters much; use what works for you) can be a nice way to do just that.  And a great way to move closer to a life you love in 2017.

So let's continue on the journey we started, shall we?

Have you been following along with me these past few weeks?

  • Did you start with self-compassion and then ask yourself what you want to FEEL in 2017?
  • Did you look back and celebrate your 2016 wins, let go of your losses, and look for clues about what it all means for you now?  
  • Did you let go of the goals that have been on your list repeatedly because you finally admitted that some very persistent part of you is actually not interested in meeting them?


Now it's time to look forward.  

You can set intentions or goals in a lot of different ways. I mentioned last week that in the past I've tended to look at a whole lot of specific areas of my life.  You can check out my categories in last week's blog if you're interested. 

If you want to create goals or intentions by category, like I did, I suggest using the timer on your phone and limiting yourself to 1 minute for each category.  Usually that will allow you to get 1-3 goals down.  Going quick helps you to listen to your intuitive sense of what you really want and not to argue yourself out of it (or into some other "better" goal.)

I actually used this exact process this week, and I've got my list.  

Interestingly though, this year the intentions that resonate the most for me, have come from that first question we asked ourselves a couple weeks ago.  What do I want to FEEL in 2017? 

 I'm not throwing out the more detailed ones.  Under my "living space" category, for example, I have recorded the goal of finding a coffee table/ottoman for my living room.  I'd still like to do it, but I'm aware that a big part of me really doesn't care that much about most of what I recorded on my detailed categorized list this year.

Those feelings I want to feel - they seem like what matters most for me this year.  They are my primary focus.

For me, to be intentional about feeling delighted, lighthearted, and grateful at a time when I am viscerally aware of injustice, suffering and disappointment... 

To be intentional about feeling beautiful, nourished, and strong as a woman in this nation at this time when it seems we have lost so much ground...

To focus on feeling love for others (especially my husband) and feeling loved in the midst of my interracial immediate family, my politically, religiously and philosophically divided extended family, and in a deeply divided nation...these feelings are my focus this year.

Many actions that will come out of these intentions I know.  I'm not sure what all of them are yet.  But I know where I want to focus.

In addition to those feelings, I know I'm going to focus on building a sustainable business this year, one that that empowers teachers, moms and college students to heal themselves and the world, and that helps me—a woman—to care for the financial needs of my family in ways I never have before. It's not on-the-streets activism (and I am going to keep learning from Eileen Flanagan about how to participate in actions that make a broader impact), but it's the way I feel called to dismantle racism and sexism. One life, one student, one classroom at a time.

If I forget all those other things I wrote down, I'm guessing that focusing on nurturing and nourishing these feelings I'm aiming for and my business will make for a pretty great year.  

Where do you want your focus to be this year?  

Lots of craziness will compete for your attention, no doubt.  But you can choose where you focus, and you're likely to head in that direction once you do.  

Next week we'll talk about how you can make it easy for yourself to get where you want to go.  

For now, just choose.  

Focus where YOU want to focus, where you feel drawn to focus, or called to focus.  Let that be a guide for you this year.

Here's to thriving.