‘Tis the Season: Be Intentional in 2013 by Katie Anthony

YNPN Chicago Board of Directors’ Speak!

Thanksgiving is a time many of us pause to think about all the good in our life.  The New Year causes us to look at where we have been over the last twelve months.  But how often do you really take time during the rest of the year to consciously think about your life – where you are, where you want to go, and what you need to implement to move towards the future you want?  That imbalance is the reason for my new year’s resolution – regularly scheduled time for self-reflection.tumblr_ltbx6rH3PU1qb1ipdo1_500

I have a tendency to think of all movement as good – if I am busy and involved in lots of things I must be moving my life forward, right?  But I rarely allow myself the opportunity to pause, step back, and say, “Where is all this energy I am expending leading me?”  And if you have not taken the time to really look at where you want to end up, it’s even harder to know if you are heading in the right direction or if you are just doing a lot of work to tread water.

Here is my plan and hopefully some elements of it can be helpful as you move into 2013 as well:

  • Block out time on my calendar: If you don’t have it on the books you will find another way to fill the time.  When something comes up force yourself to say, “Sorry, I have a prior commitment.” Constantly rescheduling means you don’t value this activity and it will fall through the cracks.
  • Realize I am valuable enough to have devoted “Me Time”:  You set aside so much time to do things for other people why don’t you deserve 45 minutes every week to think about yourself?  And this isn’t “reflect on my life while also squeezing in a workout” time.  Make a legitimate date with yourself – grab a glass of wine, coffee, hot chocolate, whatever – and dedicate the same energy and attention to yourself that you would devote listening to a friend.
  • Envision the future I want: I never thought about it until a friend told me to literally close my eyes and picture what I wanted to see.  The act of imagining myself in a situation lets me better feel what type of a fit it would be.  It’s like test driving parts of my future, I can see if it feels right before I invest too deeply.
  • Analyze all my current commitments: Think about whether your activities leave you happy, feeling energized and engaged, and move your goals forward.  There are groups that we grow out of, and we need to feel okay loosening our ties with them.  Plus if you aren’t feeling engaged then you likely aren’t giving the organization the effort it deserves.
  • Look at what personal characteristics I need to strengthen: This one can have a fun pay-off. Once you realize what you need to work on think of a friend who does that thing well.  Set up a date to meet with him / her and try to understand what strategies he / she employs that you could implement.
  • Make myself accountable: You don’t have to note your intention in a blog post like this, but put it on paper. Writing down your goals makes them more concrete and harder to go back on.  Take it a step further and tell your friends about your plans. Once you determine a next step schedule it right then.  Use Boomerang to prepare reminder emails to check in on your progress.  Do whatever you need to so that you remain on task.
  • Congratulate myself: This process will likely uncover some truths you have avoided facing.  It may make you feel like you have a long way to go.  But the most important thing is that you are finally making the effort, so stay positive and have a great time getting to better know a dear friend – YOU!

Katie Anthony is the Communications Co-Chair for YNPN Chicago.  Katie is currently studying at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy for her Master’s degree.  She is hoping to work on issues facing the City of Chicago, including how to increase civic engagement, which she believes can be advanced by fostering strategic cross-sector collaboration. Previously Katie worked in the nonprofit sector for seven years and currently is an active volunteer with other organizations including the Junior League of Chicago, the Harris School’s Public Policy Student Association, and her alma mater Carleton College.

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2 Responses to ‘Tis the Season: Be Intentional in 2013 by Katie Anthony

  1. Kelsey says:

    Katie – very well said. I try to practice this, but your post it a great reminder. It can be easy to get in the habit of checking things of a list and not asking yourself if they are the right things.
    Thanks.

  2. David K. says:

    Excellent advice — thank you, Katie.

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