How To Start Living Intentionally In 2016

Another three more sleeps and the bell tolls for the new reign of twenty sixteen. For many of us it’s a welcome and long-awaited arrival after having been swept up in a hurricane of events around the world, at home (on a personal level) or even at work that seem to belie the length of those 365 days we can’t believe we did survive. It’s been a tumultuous year of some real triumphs and new unforeseen challenges for me personally and I have a hunch, perhaps even for most of the rest of you.

I love reviewing every year that’s about to come to an end before I start the new year. I believe it’s really one of the best ways we can start positive on a new note having wiped our slate clean and committing to live with greater purpose and intent. One of the ways I attempt to mentor myself aside from the real-life mentors I try my best to keep strong relationships with—is to have author mentors, speaker mentors and preacher mentors I regularly keep myself up to date with. Some of them are dead (no kidding). Uh-huh, did you know that you can actually be mentored by the dead? They speak from their graves through their legacies of books, philosophies, culture and missions they’ve left behind that transcend beyond their lives on earth long after they have departed.

You see, the key thing is to find mentors that speak to your motivation and who spur you, challenge you and ignite your fire. It’s always good to keep at least one that you may not know personally but whom you are drawn to, whose work speaks to your heart. One of these author-speaker-preacher (he just so happens to be all three!) mentors I keep who is still alive and well and whom I enjoy reading and listening to would be John Maxwell, the leadership guru.

One of the key things I’ve taken away from John Maxwell in 2015 is his teaching on ‘living intentionally’. What’s intentional living? How to start living intentionally in 2016?

John C. Maxwell's 'Intentional Living'
John C. Maxwell’s ‘Intentional Living’

Think about it. Do we simply ‘accept’ our day on a daily basis, or do we intend to ‘lead’ our day so that we can set the tone for how it unfolds as best as we can? He’s said that most of us have heard the saying ‘all’s well that ends well’, yet perhaps it’s better to live by the mantra ‘all’s well that begins well’. If we could learn to start well and commit to ‘starting well’ regardless of whatever it is we’re embarking on, we’ll ensure we have well prepared ourselves and hence we can say we’ve done our best to make sure it ends well from the start. While there is no guarantee that things will always fall into place the way we envisioned, we owe it to ourselves to do all that we can to be self-motivated, proactive and well-prepared.That’s just one of the ways of living intentionally.

I just love that. All my life I love being prepared, for the best and for the worst and I don’t recall ever regretting preparation in any shape or form, in any size or weight. Yes there can be unforeseen circumstances in life no matter how hard we prepare—but the difference is that I can trust God and lean on Him when the outcomes are not quite what I’ve anticipated.

No matter what kind of year you’ve had, know that you can make it different, better and more victorious in 2016. It begins with re-evaluating where you have done well this year and where you can do better. I would think about the areas in which I need to improve myself in terms of learning new skills, sharpening existing ones, and cull all activities that I would consider hardly worth my pursuit or that aren’t wise time investments (like spending too much time on social media,ha)—based on its return on investment.

In my capacity as a blogger I’ll perhaps not be able to completely eliminate social media use but I’m quite sure there must be a way to limit those times of aimless casual browsing! I would also gently cull relationships that no longer work in my life, in other words—choosing only to spend and invest time in relationships and friendships that are positive, that are encouraging and reinvigorating rather than emotionally draining and energy-sapping. If we can’t help spending time with the wrong kinds of people (for example if they are co-workers, clients or even family friends, I would limit my contact as much as I can.

One of the key things I want to do for myself is to seek positive influences in my life for the new year. There were three questions John Maxwell posed to secular leaders that followers ask themselves about the type of leader they tend to like to follow, which I thought ought to be the very questions we ask ourselves when evaluating the type of company we keep. It helps you filter who you should keep in your inner circles or avoid. It certainly helped me.
Do these people care for you? Genuinely?
Can they and would they help you when you need help?
Can you trust them?

To live intentionally means to me, learning to say no to the things that don’t add value to me or my life—including activities or people. To live intentionally means to be proactive and responsible on purpose for how I lead my life and how those outcomes or decisions I choose to make will help me or hinder me in designing the life that I envision and want in 2016.

It means I’ll be simplifying my life. It means I’m de-cluttering my life and it isn’t just tangible ‘stuff’ that I’ll be discarding, donating, selling, well–eliminating. From stuff to bad habits to negativity, it means every decision I make will be guided by the question, “Is what I’m about to choose helping me achieve my goals for 2016 or is it a step back?”

I wish you each an intentional Happy New Year and a victorious 2016. May you be blessed, healed, loved and celebrate each day that you have been given with gratitude, joy and peace. No matter what kind of year you’ve had, believe that there’s still time and chance to make it all better this year. Be determined to follow through those goals and reward yourself each time you’ve achieved a mark of improvement—yes, even for those goals that haven’t been fully achieved but you have had at least shown improvement from 2015. Encourage yourself continually. Einstein said that ‘Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, keep moving.’

I’m committing more time to God, my family, my postgrad studies, paid freelance writing and to finish a book that I’ve committed to writing this year. This means that with only a pair of hands, I may be limiting my blog posts to one a week or longer. It takes me a good few hours (sometimes an entire day given my distractions and interruptions) to put together a worthy post that I personally qualify as helpful to my readers–something I think will help you and that you’ll not be wasting your time on. Doing all that takes time. I promise you’ll still be seeing the fruit of my escapes to my creative outlets (baking, crafting, writing and more) that I love to share but not at the expense of the things I’ve to put first in my life. Remember? I’m living intentionally.

Do drop me a line this year if you wish to connect without hesitation or reservation–I’m really quite human and friendly and don’t bite! I thank those who have written me and I’m looking forward to more comments and emails this year. I welcome all suggestions to improve your experience on this blog and the posts you’d like to see.

May you continue to live a deliciously creative life in the coming year, be joyful, intentional and most of all, prosper in all your endeavours!

Kat Ngoi

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