How to Live More Intentionally

How to Live More Intentionally >> Life In Limbo

The theme of storytelling has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m finding it an especially interesting idea as I start to plan the next chapter in my life’s adventure. The phrase that keeps appearing in my mind, over and over as I think about the future, is:

Your life is a book. What do you want it to say? What do you want your story to be?

Since moving abroad, it’s become clear to me that it’s important to be intentional with my one wild and precious life. I’ve met people here from all over the world and their stories have inspired me to think differently. When I left Canada, I only intended to be away for one year: Korea was meant to be my one crazy adventure before settling down and starting my “real life”. But the longer I’m away, and the more people I talk to, I have realized that this is my real life, I am lucky to be living it this way, and I can do whatever I want with it in the future.

How to Live More Intentionally >> Life In Limbo

My word for the year was abundance, and one of the many important things it has taught me this year is that we have so many options. We all have more time and possibilities available to us than we’re led to believe when we graduate from university.

Contrary to what I thought before I left, since being here I’ve actually encountered more opportunities to grow my career, build my skills and make plans for the future. I’ve transitioned from an unpaid internship to a paid position, I’ve had time to work on my freelance writing, I’ve improved my photography, and I’ve begun to shift my blog in a direction I’m proud of. Through listening to my intuition and believing in abundance, I’ve encountered far more opportunity than I believe I would have, had I stayed at home.

How to Live More Intentionally >> Life In Limbo

Maybe your intuition isn’t telling you to leave your job and move to a foreign country: I don’t think that is the answer for everyone. What I do believe is that there’s always a third alternative. Life is not black-and-white. If you’re willing to explore new opportunities and possibilities, even those that don’t seem quite right at first, you may be led to things you never could have imagined. I truly believe if you do, you will encounter things you never expected to, better things than you ever could have predicted.

Life should be led with intention. If there’s one thing these nine months away have taught me so far, it’s that I’m going to need to choose. If I want to go on adventures, it’s up to me to make them happen. I recognize now that I am the writer, my life is my story and I get to decide what ends up in the book. At the end of my life, all I’ll have is whatever I chose to write on the pages. To me this means I can’t coast. I can’t expect anything to happen for me, an idea which is at once terrifying and empowering.

Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so excited to have my mom visit me here: I realize that Korea is a short but meaningful chapter in my hopefully long life. I’m so grateful that she will get to see what this part of my story was like.

So, as 2014 winds down, and you start to make plans for the new year, ask yourself:

What do you want your story to say? 

Abundance Ideas / 01

DSC_2091At the start of the year, I chose abundance as my word for 2014. I did this last year with the word reach, and it served me well – I did, in fact, do a lot of reaching last year. I like the idea of choosing a word to focus on, one that can act as a lens through which you try to see your life and the world around you. I am 100% sure that abundance was the right word for me this year. It has come up again and again, in many different forms and contexts over these past four months.

So far I’ve learned that abundance is about choosing the third alternative instead of getting stuck in either/or, black-and-white thinking. It’s about looking for other options. It’s about practicing gratitude every single day. It’s about being amazed by the magic and opportunities and synchronicity we encounter in our everyday lives. It’s often about stepping back and looking at the big picture instead of getting caught up in petty details. It’s the opposite of being panicky or feeling like there is never enough time or money or love or friends.

IMG_3088When I chose abundance as my word, I didn’t know that four months later I’d be writing about it from a foreign country, a world away from where I was (physically and in some ways emotionally) when I chose it. The decision to move to Korea felt like the abundant choice. Instead of feeling like there weren’t enough jobs and I wouldn’t be making enough money and I wouldn’t be able to travel for a few years and I’d never have adventures again (I am dramatic), I zoomed out. I found a choice that allowed for abundance. Now I have travel, I have money, I have my own apartment that I don’t pay for, I have independence and freedom and lots of time to do the things I love. I chose the third alternative and I have so much faith that it was the right choice for me. I just hope that in the future I’ll be able to step back and look for that choice instead of feeling small and scared and boxed in.

DSC_2587Here are some of the thoughts on abundance that I’ve stumbled across so far in 2014. I’ve shared some of them before in my weekly inspiration posts, but they bear repeating.

From Seth Godin:

Here’s conventional wisdom: Success makes you happy. Happiness permits you to be generous.

In fact, it actually works like this: Generosity makes you happy. Happy people are more likely to be successful.

“I’m not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.” -Erica Cook

Also from Seth Godin:

If you’re spending a lot of time worrying about musical chairs, it’s almost impossible to be generous and connected. If you’ve got one eye on the lookout for when the music will stop and which chair you’re going to grab, it’s inevitable that you’re not really focusing on the amazing people you’re with. On the other hand, once you stop playing that game, it seems as though new chairs just keep materializing.

Thinking differently about time, priorities, and having enough hours in the day.

Abundance bowls: for Winter and Spring.

Marie Forleo is all about abundant thinking. One of her favourite mantras is “There’s always more _______ where that came from,” whether it’s money or love or creative content. You can hear more of her thoughts on the subject here and here.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander. A truly wonderful book about thinking about the big picture and shifting your perspective to one of abundance.

I’ve been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and it’s a game-changer. The ideas have really been resonating with me. She specifically writes: “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I am enough.” She says that to combat scarcity we need to cultivate a sense of enough, of worthiness, of sufficiency. This post describes her ideas a bit more in depth. Even though she uses the word abundance differently than I do, her definition of “enough” feels very close to what I define as “abundance”. For me, abundance is about appreciating the little things, being happy with what you have, and recognizing the true abundance of your situation by practicing gratitude. It’s not about striving or constantly needing more. So maybe we mean the same thing, or maybe both concepts (sufficiency and abundance) are necessary for a happy life. I’m not sure yet, but I do know that it’s fascinating.

***

A third of the way through the year, and I’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to abundance (and by extension the concepts of enough, scarcity, lack, gratitude and happiness for that matter). I’m planning and hoping to keep learning about this idea, all the while cultivating lots of feelings of abundance in my life. So far, so good.

You can read more about why I chose the word abundance here, and you can see my thoughts on my word for 2013 here.