One of my favourite activities at school was competitive swimming. I loved the feeling of my body gliding through the water and I enjoyed pushing myself to get better and faster relative to my peers. I enjoyed some moderate success until my late development left me in the wake of opponents who had already grown into their stronger and faster bodies.
Now, decades since I stopped competing in the pool, I still remember something that my coaches drilled into me: ‘Never look for your opponents in the pool. Turning to see where you are only slows you down. Keep your head down and focus on swimming as strongly as you can. When the race is over, then you can look around and see where the others are.’
This advice has been so valuable not because I see life as a competition. Rather, the value in these words is in reminding me that my focus, my intention, is important. To be honest, I haven’t been as good at not looking at others as I wanted to be. I have been far too swayed by the approval, opinions, and demands of others, and I have often neglected my own wisdom and needs in the process. But I continue to learn that there is great value in setting my course and staying focussed. I continue to work to keep my eyes on the path and avoid comparing my journey to those of others. And I continue to grow my capacity to avoid all the bright shiny objects and calls for my attention that distract me.
And this is why I believe that setting intentions can be such a valuable life practice. For me, setting intentions is not about controlling myself or reducing spontaneity in my life. Intentions are not laws or requirements. They are markers that remind me of what’s most important in my life. And they are guides that help me to navigate my way to the self and the life I long for.
THE WELLNESS WHEEL
I wrote a post last year called How To Craft A Worthwhile Spiritual Practice in which I referred to the Wellness Wheel. This is an excellent tool for whole-person health that was developed by Bill Hettler in 1976 and expanded by many others since.
When it comes to setting intentions, I find the Wellness Wheel can be a helpful framework. And so, in the next few weeks my weekly practice videos in the EvoFaith YouTube Channel will be focussing on the different areas of our lives and how we can show up more fully and authentically in each. And then here on this blog I’ll be exploring how to set intentions that will actually make a positive difference in our lives. I hope you’ll join me on this journey!
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
How do you feel about setting intentions for your year? What are your most important intentions for 2022? What is your process for working out where you are headed in the year to come? If you imagine your future self a year from now, what would you want to have become or achieved or experienced in this year?
Please share your thoughts and intentions in the comments and let’s support one another as we prepare for 2022. And, if you want to be even more intentional then I encourage you to join the On Purpose Challenge group in the EvoFaith Tribe. This is where we will share our intentions and experiences and support one another as we set our course for the year. See you there!
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Swimming training taught me some valuable skills too! Like finding a point to focus on when doing the backstroke, so that my trajectory remained the shortest distance from point a to point b. Diagonals took extra time and energy, and were bound to result in upsets with other swimmers! A friendly chat was far better postponed till the end of a race.
Noticing the signs, like the flags across the pool (that some thought were there just to add a decorative touch) could actually prevent a swimmer from breaking an arm or a cracking their head on the hard wall of the pool.
The value of pacing myself, knowing that a 50m sprint took a different strategy from a 200m individual medley was a lesson quicly learned and seldom forgotten.
Translating these into intentions for my spiritual practice this year:
I will focus on Christ, and get my bearings from my relationship with God.
I will aim to be aware of and interpret the signs along the way, knowing that they have a set purpose.
Most importantly, because I find that I am a very slow learner in this respect, I will practice pacing myself, being more intentional about what is important rather than what seems urgent.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in the pool, Shona. I didn’t know that we had that in common. 🤓
And I’m so glad that this post gave you some ideas to work with as you set your intentions for the year. May you be inspired as you do this, and may your intentions be a helpful guide for your year!
[…] WHERE ARE YOU HEADED IN 2022? […]