Set Daily Intentions and Own Them

Happy Monday Friends!

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If you’ve been following my first few posts, you’ll know by now that athletics, fitness, and performance are big passions of mine. Since I first stepped on a hockey rink at age 4, I loved everything that came with performing, competing, and growing as an individual and as an athlete. While I am no longer a competitive athlete, I have continued to push myself athletically through involvement with crossfit, yoga, cycling, and even some long distance running. Staying active is important to me, and I plan to remain active throughout medical school and beyond. I’ve always felt that the 1-2 hours of movement per day increases my focus and improves my overall mood.

Recently, as part of my quest to get out of my comfort zone physically and not just simply throw weights around (which is still fun), I took my first hot yoga class since probably 2014. In the beginning of the class, the instructor provided a very simple que to each of us, “Right now, I want you to set your intention for the next 45 minutes, and every time you sense your mind wandering, return to this intention, own this intention and accept nothing less.” Seems fairly simple right? Not so much.

In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with texts, emails, requests, demands and a variety of other distractions to process amidst our already important priorities (health, family, work, etc..). I myself constantly feel as if I “need to” be doing something. If I’m not reading, I should be at work. If I’m not at work, I should be at the gym. If I’m not at the gym, I should be reading research. It wasn’t until I heard this simple message from my yoga instructor that I realized that sometimes we need to just allow ourselves to be in the moment. No phones, no responsibilities, just you and your intention.

Since the day I heard this message, I have been setting daily intentions for all of my tasks (workouts, reading, blogging, cooking, etc..). For example, if I’m reading a research paper on cardiovascular disease, my intention may be to focus solely on my reading and make three key points in that article. If I’m preparing for an interview, my intention may be to do my best to stay stress-free, show the application committee my strengths as an applicant, and support my peer interviewees.

I have found this strategy to be extremely helpful in helping me live in the moment and avoiding losing perspective. At the end of the day, we control our thoughts and we have the power to set and stick to our intentions. Regardless of how busy, stressed, or successful we may be, I think it’s important to always return to these intentions, even if this means modifying as we go.