While planning my day this morning I started thinking about intentions, and I realized that there are two types of intentions that we set each day, or at least should set each day. There are the things that we want to get done, which might be your to-do list or goals for the day, or even your “oh shit, I still haven’t done that” list. This is the one that I think most of us have and we cross out or check off as we get them done, and maybe release a sigh of relief if they were on that third type of list.
The other type of intentions includes who you want to be that day. Do you want to be present, energetic, joyful, helpful, calm, etc.? These are often harder to see if we’re not really paying attention (I suppose if you don’t notice if you were present then you probably weren’t), but you can reflect back on your day before going to sleep see those behaviours / reactions then. This is more a journal entry or just taking some time to think or talk with someone rather than a checkmark on a list.
Both types of intentions will play a role in how your day goes, but also how the days of those around you will be, especially when it comes to your “who do I want to be today” intentions. I think that when we just have a “to-do” list it’s easy to go through our days just “getting by”, which in the long-run sounds exhausting and not very enjoyable. On the other hand, if we have just a “who do I want to be today” list, I think it will be very hard to be that person if you don’t have some way to remember to pay your bills, pick up groceries you need, make the phone calls you need to make, etc. These lists will work best when they work together.
You can make your lists first thing in the morning, if you want, but that’s not how my brain works. I note a “to-do” as it comes up, including when I need to do it. I use Todoist to keep track of most of my tasks and my projects, but I have a paper list of things that I specific things I want to accomplish in various areas of life in a given week (e.g. practice putting at least 4 days, journal at least 5 days, call my parents twice). I’ll note the “who I want to be” no later than the night before so that a bad nights sleep or cold morning doesn’t cloud my thinking on that one.
How you do this or when you do it has to fit with your routine and what will work best for you. If you do only one of these right now, try doing both. If you do both already, I bet you’re rocking it (drop me a note and share how it’s going). If you don’t do either, I’m not sure how you get through your days (kidding, mostly).