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What I learned from my ‘Year of Intentionality’

It seems like everyone has a word for the year. For 2015, I decided my word would be “intention,” a grand — if vague — word that would help me usher in my 30s like a hip, modern woman. I would pay attention to those around me, eat good food and pursue interests I had neglected. In other words, I would become the sophisticated, self-aware woman I wanted to be. I intentionally set my goals high and prepared for the best year of my life.

My ‘Year of Intention’ began with the purchase of a very popular and rather pricey planner, and I dreamed of all the fascinating events that would fill its pages. Some of those things did happen, yet life, with all its ups and downs, moved on like normal while my intentions struggled to keep up.

I rang in the New Years with a midnight 5K then spent the next afternoon in minor med getting a tetanus shot for a mysterious cut I got during the race. Over the next few months, I threw myself into trying new things: voice lessons, drawing classes, painting classes, gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free diets. I read books about habits and listed to podcasts on creativity. I saw a life coach, went on road trips and otherwise 2015-ed so hard that I was in danger of losing myself.

This year was supposed to be a great year of self-awareness and achievement, but really, it was like any other year.

It taught me this: You can’t measure your life in accomplishments or checked boxes. I wanted this year to be amazing and different, but I never accepted 2015 for what it was — another year in my life.

Even with the best of intentions, life goes its own way. My car was totaled. My dog died. I tried so hard to make this year something wonderful, but I forgot that I do not control what happens to me.

It was a year of turning 30 and learning that a number doesn’t fundamentally change who you are. My birthday brought me neither wisdom nor wrinkles, but it was a day full of cake and laughter and music. It’s been a year of trying new things and learning that it’s okay to walk away from things that are not working. Goodbye, life coach. So long, dairy-free/egg-free diet.

It hasn’t been the best year of my life, but then that’s a lot of pressure for a year to live up to. My attempt at living intentionally has taught me that a morning routine gets my day off to a better start, that cutting out gluten makes me feel better, and that even with the best of intentions, you may not have the year you planned.

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