Back in January, which seems like yesterday and also a lifetime ago, I set a single intention for the year. Everything in 2021 should be simple, sustainable, and satisfying. At the least, everything should be simple or sustainable or satisfying. The books Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg and Mindset by Carol Dweck are two that I return to over and over. Mindset helps me remember to say, “I can’t do that YET” and Tiny Habits has been instrumental in helping me find the way to simple and sustainable and satisfying.
In the best tradition of intention setting, I supplied my own definition of each of those.
Simple – not necessarily easy, but the solution or option that creates the greatest feeling of ease for me. Sometimes that may mean I choose to do something complicated, like bake a fancy cake. But for me, total absorption in baking creates a feeling of ease. And usually a sense of satisfaction (bonus!). Simple also means pausing before beginning and asking whether the action feels right, and does the project really need to be done. And sometimes, it means giving up on something you think you “should” do and acknowledging it is just never going to happen because it does not bring you any joy or satisfaction at all. And most important, simple means just beginning the hard thing by taking one small step. The fact that I am not great at something right now does not mean I never will be. It means I haven’t mastered that skill YET. So, one small, simple, act can set me on the right path. Can’t meditate for 30 minutes? Don’t. Five minutes, or even one minute, is a fine place to start. Will it grow into 30 minutes? Maybe, if that is sustainable and creates a sense of ease.
Sustainable is not simply recycling. It’s about beginning projects or practices that meet my needs, and not falling victim to the “should” mindset. Sustainable also means things that don't create anxiety or stress. I'm getting better at choosing what's best for me, not following the latest fad. Choosing things that are sustainable also means that sometimes, I must be honest with myself about things. I enjoy knitting on occasion, but the reality is I’m not inclined to knit a sweater. So, even though the pattern is great and the yarn is fun, I need to be honest with myself and admit that I am never going to finish that sweater. So, better to pass on the moment of pleasure I will have with the purchase to avoid the feelings of guilt and anxiety that will come from walking past the yarn basket.
On the other hand, sustainable also means making time for the things that are important but that can easily get shoved aside. So, setting aside 15 minutes in the morning for quiet time is critical. It is sustainable because it is short but also because I choose to make it so. And again, sustainable doesn’t mean everything happens at once. It is possible to build new habits, new attitudes, and new outlooks by doing one small thing over and over. And one small change is sustainable.
Satisfying is more than a fleeting moment of “well done.” Satisfying is the feeling deep down that I am on the right path. That the choices being made are consistent with where I am right now and where the universe is leading me. Sometimes, that means saying no to the shiny thing that is right in front of me and choosing to wait. Or, perhaps more accurately, eating the brussels sprouts and not the chocolate ice cream. And satisfying also means that I reward the small, simple steps. Because feeling good about the right now is just as important, maybe more important, than wondering what feeling good will be like in one month, or three months, or a year.
After three months I have done a little check in with myself, and I have decided I’m doing pretty well. I think that is because I am making more mindful choices. I am being led by my intuition and experience, not by the outside influences that can be so loud. There are plenty of times when we feel we don’t have any choice. So how does my intention work in those situations? Pretty well. If I remember to stop and check in with my intention. Even in times when I cannot imagine that the choices offered meet any of my three intentions, when I step back and just take a minute, I can see that there is something there to hold onto. Things that feel overwhelming become manageable if I focus on simple, sustainable, and satisfying.
Change, particularly changing oneself, is challenging. Even when we are motivated by good intentions and the knowledge that the change will take us to a better place, it is not always easy. I am learning to stop tying myself up in knots re-thinking and second guessing. A decision was made, we will proceed until we get to the next decision point and then evaluate the choice. And choose differently if necessary. Not always simple, but when I truly let go of the anxiety it is very satisfying, and it becomes simpler with practice. For those familiar with Gabby Bernstein, this my way of “choosing again.”
And sustainable? Well, when you cut out the “should” and focus on what’s right for you, things become much more sustainable. Whether it is exercise, eating patterns, making time for spiritual renewal and selfcare, or finding a way to sleep more and worry less, taking small steps rather than plunging in can be a great way to build sustainable and lasting change.
The decision to focus on simple, sustainable, and satisfying is also having an impact on the business. As I make decisions about products, content, and plan, I am asking myself are these choices simple, sustainable, and satisfying for me as the owner, but more importantly, for all the people that interact with the business as a customer, supplier or fan. Because ultimately, Gratitude is here to serve. If we can make your life a bit simpler, your choices sustainable or the entire experience satisfying, then we are hitting the mark.
Simple, Sustainable, Satisfying, words to live by.