I’ve heard that writing down one’s intentions and goals reaffirms them and supports their achievement. In mid-2014, I started to think constructively – that is both strategically and tactically – about leaving my job in January 2016. With the help of my professional coach and the awareness that time is finite, I built an 18-month transition plan that focused on my priorities for work and my personal life. It was a living plan, and I revised it occasionally. When I reviewed my progress against the plan at the end of 2015, I was delighted, and frankly a little surprised, that I had accomplished most of the many of things I had wanted to. That experience is a remarkable lesson to me on focus and priorities, on humility about time and limits, and ultimately, about my values.
I didn’t make a comparable plan for our time here at God’s Pocket, or for my gap year as a whole. But I did come with intentions, wishes and hopes for these two months. As we now begin to shift our view toward leaving here and to what comes next, I realized that some assessment of this time is important and useful to me. I also recognize that I want to have a better grasp of my intentions going forward, while leaving space for the unanticipated, the as-yet-imagined possibilities. Otherwise, how can I best balance being mindfully present in the here and now – where and whatever that is – while seeing my thoughtful, authentic intentions turn into dreams fulfilled? If I want to be more creative, or healthy, or adventurous during this year, how will any of that happen if I am not mindful about making time and space for those things to be? Time is, after all, limited.
Here’s what I hoped and thought these two months would be about:
• Sleep and rest and spaciousness and no schedule
• Reading and reflection
• Time with David, and fun
• Clean eating and self-care; specifically establishing a morning routine
• Regular exercise of some form: yoga, bootcamp routines, and hikes
• Creativity: writing, drawing, and imagining; specifically starting my blog
• Adventure and exploration of the island
While the list is long-ish, most of it consists of “activities” that are not very visible or even quantifiable. That’s fine with me: part of the pleasure of leaving the corporate world is relinquishing the need to quantify everything so as to determine its value. So how do I assess my experience with these intentions? I’m satisfied and happy with my time here, and with what I was able to experience and do. Sometimes I just did very little, and that’s fine too.
I got a lot of sleep and enjoyed not having a schedule to hew to. I read a great deal, including The Artist’s Way, which caused me to add morning pages (three handwritten pages of stream of consciousness writing) to my daily routine. My morning routine has been tightened a bit over the last few weeks, although I haven’t yet linked in a meditation practice. We ate clean and limited our sugar and alcohol during our time alone. (Then we got resupplied and had company and a chef, and we’ve not been as healthy or disciplined since!) We had mixed results with exercise: we did a few bootcamp routines, but were never consistent; we had much better results doing a yoga DVD almost every day.
I have written every day, taken lots of photographs, spent time drawing and coloring, and most importantly, began this twice-weekly blog. Obviously, I spent a great deal of time with David, and we had fun and adventures together. We explored the island to some degree, enough to have seen wolves and harvest Dungeness crab at Harlequin Bay, wolf tracks at Duck Bay, and a large otter population on the north side of the island.
What I’ve learned is that while a plan might be useful, a general sense of direction is essential: without it there is little context, shape, and perhaps meaning, to my experiences. I’ve learned that a morning routine and practice are grounding for me, and create a solid base that opens the day to its many possibilities. I know that intentions can be refreshed every day, but they disappoint unless they are given a chance to take root in action. I know that I’ll learn these lessons again and again, just as I will forget them from time to time. With intention, they will always be there for me to learn again.
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