What is done in love is done well.
Vincent van Gogh
The overall intention I set for myself in 2015, which will guide all other intentions, connect to my core values, and move me toward the vision I have for my life, is to Choose Love.
It's not that I've been anti-love, exactly. But as a recovering OVER-achiever, I spent a long stretch of my life putting myself and what I wanted at the center of everything. And not like in a healthy, I-need-to-fill-my-bucket-before-I-can-effectively-serve-others, self-care-focused kind of way. I was on a mission to create a to-do list for every aspect of my life, and then check things off as quickly as I could. Unfortunately, tending to relationships was at the bottom of my list.
In Strengths-Finder speak, my talents of Responsibility, Learner, Achiever, and Maximizer meant that I took on everything. I wanted to soak up every new opportunity to increase my knowledge. I needed to check something off my list every day. And I do mean every day. And my arranger theme helped me keep track of everything. If I wasn't at work, then there were projects to be done at home. If I was on vacation, there were things to do and see. I truly did not know what it meant to relax.
These very talents contributed to success in my career. Add in high expectations, sprinkle in some extra passion and drive, and you had the recipe for a high-producing machine. Because I received recognition from others for getting stuff done and delivering results, I continued building up this over-achieving persona.
I kept receiving praise for my ability to deliver results, AND I started to see a new message woven in to the feedback I received. At different times, from different people, the gist of this new feedback was:
- You're too focused on the task, some people want to focus on the relationship first
- Not everyone wants to work that hard/work all the time/drive that hard
- It's great that you set high expectations, but they don't work for everyone
- You're closed off, it's hard to get to know you
- Some days, I can tell it's best not to approach you; just to leave you alone
Ouch! Once the sting wore off, I realized the truth behind the message. I started making slight shifts in how I interacted with people. At work, I'd start meetings with a bit of banter instead of diving into the agenda. I started focusing on strengthening relationships and connecting with new people. I began focusing on what people needed and how I could help people instead of only worrying about the task that needed to be done. I began allowing for flexibility and adapting my style to meet others where they were. Over the last few years, I've started to notice shifts not only in my relationships, but also in how I used these very talents.
I've been doing some heavy lifting in the personal growth space. I'm getting more comfortable with the unknown. I'm leaning into fears. I'm becoming more at ease in the uncomfortable and sometimes terrifying space of allowing vulnerability into my relationships.
When you live most of your life with a brick wall around your heart, it takes awhile to begin to open it up. It's literally taking down one brick at a time. But this year, I'm going to knock down the wall.
This year, I am choosing love as the place to start - for everything. I'll put aside hurry, impatience, distraction, and grudges. I'll express love through presence, patience, forgiveness, and service. I'll lead with curiosity, listen with an open heart, and seek to serve.
This won't be an overnight change; it'll be an evolution. I'll try new things. I'll make mistakes, I'll regroup and try again. It's really all any of us can do. We aren't perfect, no one is.
The beauty of setting intentions is that we don't know *exactly* what the end state will look like. But we have a picture of how we want to be living our life, how we want to *be* in life. And we take small steps every day, every moment to move us toward that intention. We know it in our heart and gut when we've done something that doesn't align. We correct it, we forgive ourselves, and we move forward.
What is your intention for 2015?
How do you want to *be* in relationship to others?
What words do you want people to use to describe you?
Be you. Grow with purpose. Flourish in life.