When I chose to be intentional and pursue peace

What Happened When I Chose to Be Intentional + Pursue Peace

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In 2020, my husband and I decided to give the “word of the year” concept a shot. After our season of crazy exhaustion-heart-heaviness, we needed a reboot.

Have you ever felt like this, too? Perhaps it’s worth being more intentional about a focus for your year.

When we went all in on our “phrases of the year” (we modified, y’all), it really did make a huge difference in our lives.

Curious to learn more? In this post, I’ll share with you what areas of life we chose to focus on, what we changed and what were the outcomes.

Please note that these changes happened over a year and started with small, steady changes. Don’t psych yourself out if this post seems crazy long. (It is but not to overwhelm you!)

By the way, I thought this would be a brief reflective post. Instead, I got so excited about this that I whipped up 7 posts tied to this topics (links interspersed in the post). Otherwise, you might still be scrolling in 2022...you’re welcome.

Here we go!

Word of the Year – What the heck is this?

Not sure what the “word of the year” is?

Basically, you choose a word for the year to guide your growth, decision-making and actions.

Choosing a word of the year is a simpler (yet more complex!) approach than setting New Year’s resolutions.

Ideally, throughout the coming months, you continually revisit that word to check that you’re living in alignment with that focus.

Many resources go into depth about this. Here’s a couple to get you started:

Our Phrases of the Year: “Be Intentional” and “Pursue Peace”

To be honest, rather than focusing on one word, we landed on two key phrases for the year:

Be intentional

Pursue peace

2020 “word of the year”

My hubby had his own reasons for choosing these phrases, but that’s his story to tell. As the resident writer, you’re stuck with my perspective. πŸ™‚

In addition to our exceptionally hard season, I tend to over-commit and over-estimate my capacity.

(Raise your hand if you can relate!)

I longed to be more intentional with my time, energy, talents and resources. I also yearned for more peace and white space in my schedule, relationships and home.

So, since I like to over-commit, I went with two focus phrases:

Be intentional. Pursue peace.

What Changed As a Result of our Words of the Year?

Oh my gosh, this is where the magic happened.

In no particular order, here’s how choosing to be intentional and pursue peace revolutionized 2020.

Determining Coffee Chats and Yoga Mats’ Focus

I could literally thinking and talk about “being intentional” endlessly. (Sorry, hubs!)

In my view, being intentional includes:

  • Our time and energy, such as how we choose to spend our days, what we focus on, how we think, and more
  • Our personality and talents, such as understanding and valuing our gifts, leaning into those strengths, learning to be okay with our weaknesses, and more
  • Our relationships, such as how we connect with different perspectives (i.e. everyone who’s not you!), set boundaries, encourage each other, thrive together, and more
  • Our resources (this also includes each idea above!), such as our “stuff,” finances, and more

I’m 99.9% confident I’m not the only one who wants to grow in these areas.

Why not dialogue about it on a blog?

During the coming year, you can continue to expect content geared toward helping you (and I) be intentional with their time, talents, energy and resources.

CCYM is designed for you

Prioritizing Spiritual Pauses and Growth

During one of our retreats, we both expressed that we wanted and needed to take more time to connect with God.

We had to be intentional and remember that this was another way to pursue peace.

So we decided to start taking a spiritual pause every day. This shift has helped us:

  • Intentionally set aside a sacred, consistent time to connect with our Creator, which is also peace giving!
  • Leverage this as Scripture study time
  • Grow toward God and each other

Curious? Here’s more about spiritual pauses.

Implementing Sustainable Day-To-Day Routines

Focusing on being intentional and pursuing peace helped us implement simple strategies (below) that helped me feel like less of a hot mess mom this year.

  • Create sustainable rhythms for your family
  • Design spaces in your home to be a β€œyes” space
  • Implement independent play into the daily rhythm
  • Incorporate your child into daily tasks
  • Prioritize cup fillers during naptime and independent play
  • Re-learn how to play from your child
hot mess mom

Weekly Planning + Monthly Planning + Marriage Retreats

Prior to this year, I didn’t think that weekly planning would work for me.

As a new SAHM, I frequently felt like a hot mess mom.

I soon realized that I needed to intentionally create a flexible rhythm to create more peace and joy in my life.

Enter the strategizing and planning trifecta: Weekly Planning, Monthly Planning and Marriage Retreats.

I began by doing my own weekly planning. Over time, this has expanded to include family weekly planning, monthly planning and annual marriage retreats.

Don’t freak out! This is much simpler (and fun!) than it sounds!

Basically, taking the time to plan and dream has helped us:

  • Prioritize what matters most
  • Make time for fun πŸ™‚
  • Reduce decision fatigue
  • Stay on top of tasks that tend to slip through the cracks
  • Brainstorm what changes we can make to move closer to those big dreams
  • Start making micro-changes to help us reach goals

Curious about all this planning? I’ve got your back!

6 Tips to Start Weekly Planning and Make Your Life More Awesome

Use Monthly Planning to Prioritize What Matters Most

How to DIY a Marriage Retreat (and chase your big dreams together!)

weekly planning
monthly planning
marriage retreat
meal planning and food inventory

Using a Realistic, Sustainable Meal-Planning and Food Inventory System

Our focus on being intentional also helped us more effectively weekly meal plan and maintain a food inventory. This also has created more peace in our home!

Playing and Experimenting with My Wardrobe

As many of us probably realized, we wouldn’t be able to shop for clothes in-person “like normal.”

I decided to use this time to intentionally play and experiment with my wardrobe. This meant:

  • Articulating my style recipe to assess current items, potential buys and possible outfits.
  • Getting clear on what were my must-haves as a mom with a little kid
  • Taking on Wear Your Wardrobe Challenge to wear every item in my wardrobe once
  • Seriously assess the “I keep putting this back” items. The Stunning Style’s Free Masterclass helped me ask better questions. What specifically did I not like about the item? Neckline? Sleeves? Silhouette? Color?
  • Tailor, cut up, and/or dye iffy items… because I CAN and why the heck not?
  • Plan my outfits in advance and try unused combinations

It’s been a satisfying and empowering season of intentionally exploring my style.

style analysis
Wardrobe Must-Have's
wear your wardrobe challenge

Becoming more Strategic with our Finances

For years the idea of “talking about the budget” made me want to gag.

The thing is: we didn’t typically struggle with paying the bills or even argue about money.

It was just an “un-fun” discussion.

However, our focus on being intentional and pursuing peace created a new way to look at our budget.

We found ourselves asking:

  • How can we use our budget as a tool to enjoy than a burden?
  • Can we “beat ourselves” in spending less money in different categories? (Like groceries? Amazon?)
  • What are we paying for that we don’t want or need?
  • Can we give more generously to kingdom works?

Being intentional and pursing peace in our finances has resulted in:

  • Cutting out unnecessary expenses
  • Reducing fees for standard services
  • Shorter, consistent financial check-ins than erratic-long-and-dreaded meetings
  • Becoming more proactive about addressing red flags

Y’all, I actually LOOK FORWARD to these chats because I feel so empowered!

That’s definitely peace-giving!

β€œβ€Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, β€œand see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’”
marriage retreat

Thoughtfully Investing in Our Marriage

During our retreats, we asked, “What would it look like to invest in our relationship? What could that look like? How will we make space to prioritize this?”

For us, investing in our relationship looked like:

  • Prioritizing quality time with each other after Little Man’s bedtime. During our weekly planning, we decide what funtivity we’d like to prioritize in the evenings.
  • Taking on a spiritual growth challenge – like reading the Bible in a year!
  • Reading one marriage-oriented book each year
  • Taking a marriage-related course focused on an area we want to grow in
  • Participating in a church-hosted date night series
  • Asking for grandparent coverage to have periodic day dates
  • Lightening the “logistical load” in our life to create white space (enter weekly planning, meal planning, etc.)
  • Experimenting with our bedroom’s ambiance – like putting sparkly lights behind our bed.

Prioritizing Connecting with Others

We also challenged ourselves this year to be more intentional about reaching out to loved ones.

During our monthly planning, we’d build in whitespace to reach out to the VIPs in our life.

I’m definitely a work in progress! For me, it was really helpful to put this on the calendar so I didn’t forget or de-prioritize these important people.

Connect with others

Setting Boundaries

As I sought to pursue peace, I realized that I needed to set boundaries with myself and with others.

People won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them. (Duh.)

They can’t honor boundaries you don’t give.

Perhaps, more importantly, you need to set boundaries for yourself.

Maybe it’s your cue to dis-engage from a discussion before you explode. (We’re not talking about stonewalling or avoiding conflict!)

Maybe it’s owning what’s your decision to make, and what’s not your decision to make.

Whatever it is – those boundaries are vital for your well-being and true growth. You’re worth it.

black hole thoughts

Taking Positive Proactive Action

When you focus on being intentional and pursuing peace, you realize that this requires taking positive proactive action.

When I was feeling negative emotions, I started to ask myself, “Can I do something to help find peace in this situation? Can I take positive proactive action here?”

Sometimes it meant grabbing a piece of paper and just listing off what was stressing me out. It didn’t eliminate the problems, but it helped me name it. Naming it helps you claim it.

At other times, it meant getting up and doing the the thing that was bugging me.

Let’s say that I’m concerned that Little Man will try to eat our office supplies and choke on a paperclip? Okay, I can empty the desk in 10 minutes and find a new home for stuff. Way better than agonizing over it!

Occasionally, it meant writing a message that needed to be sent.

Taking positive proactive action helped me begin to worry less and not get as easily lost into black hole thoughts.

When I chose to be intentional and pursue peace

Wrap-up and let’s chat!

Choosing a word of the year (or phrases!) doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have big life changes. (Sorry!)

As you can see, though, from my story, it CAN be a catalyst to making healthy changes in your life.

My family’s focus on being intentional and pursuing peace resulted in lots of little changes that did create more peace and fun in our lives.

The changes discussed in this post included:

For us, this year happened to be a big year for positive growth. It may be different the next year.

That’s okay.

That’s okay for you, too. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Lean into where you need to grow and enjoy it. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results!

So… tell me about you. Do you think you’ll try out any of the ideas above? Put your own spin on it? Tell me about it!