**All artwork is property of Nawaal_illustrations**
Planning ahead has been difficult since the beginning of the pandemic. My past self was a planner, always willing to make one, five, or ten-year plans to guide my life and help me reach my goals. During the last two years (and about to enter the third), there has been so much on-going flux that it makes me uncomfortable even thinking so far ahead or putting myself under the pressure of reaching goals.
That is why, this year, I am going to try something new. Let me encourage you all to do the same. In the coming seasons of my life, I decided that it would be better to set intentions, instead of aiming for specific goals. Whenever I set a goal and don't achieve it, I usually beat myself up. Setting intentions, on the other hand, allows for taking everything one day at a time and calls for giving self, grace. The practice of giving myself grace as often as possible is at the top of my list of intentions.
Extend More Grace to Myself.
I value this so much. I've been tremendous at showing more grace to others and better understanding them, but I don't honor myself in the same way. As someone who has a very high personal standard for myself and my life, when I’m not meeting that standard, sometimes I feel that I am not deserving of the amazing things I want to acquire or achieve. Having practiced forgiveness with others, I unfortunately find it hard to forgive myself when I commit mistakes or fall short. In this season and all those to come, I want to embrace every part of my life journey with incredible compassion and embrace myself for exactly who I am at every stop. My version of that looks like saying "job well done, Sloane" at the end of each day, regardless of whether I hit every item on my to-do list.
Replace Negative Self-Talk
Extending more grace to myself goes hand in hand with this intention. My communication with myself reflects the relationship that I have with myself. By speaking to myself as I want to feel about myself, I will take more control over my mindset; hell, my life. As I open up my capacity for self-compassion, I can eliminate the self-attack that sometimes plagues me, when what I really need is kind, supportive, non-judgmental, and open language. Just as I talk my friends/family down, when they express out loud negative thoughts about themselves, I must disarm my own thoughts in the same way. On a daily basis, I will reflect on these questions:
How do I talk to myself in my mind, when I “fail”?
How do I talk to myself when I fall?
How do I talk to myself when I don’t feel my best?
While also pausing and assessing what my mind says or is trying to say about me:
My mind is telling me _____, but I know that is because of my standard and not because it’s true.
My mind is telling me ____, but I know this is because my experience with _____ has developed a valid fear, but one that can be worked through.
Try Difficult Things and Face Challenges with a Calm Mind.
The moment life gets tough is when I need myself more than ever. By exercising grace and eliminating negative self-talk, I'm setting myself up to be able to handle challenges and take on difficult tasks with two angels on my shoulders, one who is encouraging and supportive and the other who advises and motivates me with the reminder that forward movement doesn’t require perfection.
In order to realize this intention, I need to incorporate consistent meditation into my daily routine. Practicing how to bring myself to a state of calm and relaxation when I am not under pressure will help me do so under stress. As a result, I believe I will be able to have more favorable outcomes in all of my experiences.
Calming my mind will remove that barrier of anxiety that hinders progress. My objective is to actualize, weigh, and assess my thoughts and opinions so I can choose the most advantageous paths for myself. Because remaining composed during the toughest times, especially in this day and age where tough times appear daily, this intention is a necessity.
Be More Present in My Relationships (Romantic, Familial, and Friendships)
The loss of my grandparents at the top of last year has made me realize that I want to use the thoughts arising from my grief to invest more time with those who are still here and who mean a great deal to me.
My aim is to learn how to show up in the best possible way for my people by being intentional about what their relationship needs are. That does not mean that I will not be distracted by life and thrown off from doing this as much as I would like. I travel A LOT, so, the more value and intention I add to the time I do get to spend with my loved ones, the more I can make the days count rather than being left to count the days I wasn't able to spend with them. If I can develop deeper emotional and mental connections with my family and friends, that physical aspect of not being around won’t weigh so heavy on my heart.
What does that look like?
Limiting phone/screen time when together
Doing activities together
Holding deep/meaningful conversations
Facetime/Call more when I’m away
Create and honor boundaries
Share my intentions!
Accept Myself as Enough
Sometimes I forget that I am amazing and wonderful because of WHO I am (and by that I don’t mean, Sloane Stephens, professional tennis player…just Sloane) and NOT for what I do, make, provide, or accomplish. In 2022 and beyond, I intend to judge myself less. Of course, I will remain honest and open with myself, but in order to achieve this true sense of peace and fulfillment, I know I need to embrace every aspect of myself wholeheartedly.
As opposed to valuing myself more, I would like to focus on the acceptance of myself. In times of low esteem or lacking self-worth, I want to accept myself as I am. I want to move through life, knowing the love I give myself is unconditional and not based on my or societies idea of value and worthiness.
There is no need for me to prove my worth to anybody. I simply have to decide for myself that I will always deserve to be loved, supported, honored, and protected. That means pardoning myself for misdeeds and intentionally working to divorce shame. Cause hell, we’re all just human, which means we’re going to be imperfect, but that doesn’t in turn mean we aren’t to be accepted.
I don’t know who coined the phrase, “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful”, but I hear, receive, and believe it! I intend to speak more of the things I appreciate and am grateful daily. After writing my Year-in-review a couple weeks back, I was like WOW, look how much I have to be grateful for! Then I realized, WOW, there were many of days this last year that I felt deep despair, if I’d just taken a moment to reflect on all that there is to be thankful for, I believe I could’ve pulled myself out of many spirals.
So that’s where I’m starting in the year 2022. In being intentional, I wrote this focusing more so on how I want to show up for myself, my loved ones, and in the world; than I did on THINGS to accomplish. I believe that the universe rewards people who pour into themselves daily and not just out. I encourage each person reading this to pour more of the good stuff into yourself. You deserve.