Live Intentionally

INTELLECTUAL WELLNESS – Keep your brain active! Learn a new activity, solve puzzles, play brain games.

SOCIAL WELLNESS – Stay connected! Volunteer in the community, take classes, visit with friends, join online social networks.

SPIRITUAL WELLNESS – Connect with your spirit! Use ways that are meaningful to you:whether that’s through your place of worship, prayer, or meditation.

Several years ago I attended a leadership retreat as part of a community initiative. I was chosen to participate with about two dozen other leaders from a variety of professions in the community. We were whisked away for a week at a resort on a beautiful aquamarine-colored lake in the northern Minnesota pines.

We learned much there: how to frame issues, how to build social capital and how to mobilize the community to act on important issues. One of the special opportunities each of us encountered was learning about our own personality traits. We then learned about overcoming the obstacles they posed, capitalizing on the opportunities they presented and how to use them to live an intentional life.

I always disliked (to put it mildly) being such an introvert, but at the retreat I was told that, “Still waters run deep.” That actually made me feel a little better about myself. I learned that I had depth of character and a need to contemplate things before I jumped in with an opinion. Understanding the positive characteristics of being introverted helped me embrace this trait instead of fight it; essentially leading me to accept it. There is freedom to be found in acceptance.

During the session spent with a counselor or life coach, I talked a little about my history, reviewed my personality profile, shared some of my personal goals and discussed ways I could reach them. A very TALL order, to say the least. I came out of the session feeling inspired and a little frightened. I knew that to attain the goals I discussed, I would have to continue to push past my comfort zone and practice being more extroverted.

I could hear my real life mentor’s voice from far away cheering me on as was her nature. She always encouraged me to, “Get out of that stagnant pool, Kathy, and into the fresh, fast-moving trout stream. It’s your time!”

When I returned to reality after the retreat, I continued to be active with the group that was passionate about what we had learned. Some people fell away immediately upon return home. Our small group entered a statewide contest for communities called, “Thriving by Design,” and our design actually won first place. Why? Because it was an intentional community design, and because we were intentional about the actions we needed to take to enter the contest.

Then I took a break from the group process to focus on my personal goals. One by one I saw the goals I had identified at the retreat come true – and more. I had gone from being a mousey nonprofit director to being involved at the national and international levels within my field in aging. I co-chaired a national level research project and disseminated its findings from Washington, D.C. to Texas. Then I went on to champion an international campaign on aging in my community.

Just recently I read a book by Lori Campbell, “Awaken Your AgePotentional: Exploring Chosen Paths of Thrivers.” Lori speaks to the importance of living intentionally in order to have quality of life through all of life, and gives inspiring examples of people who have done so. Living intentionally is essential to reach our true “AgePotential,” a term coined by Lori. Do yourself a favor and read her book.

As I am refined by age,  I continue to be more and more intentional about living and reaching my AgePotential in each of the seven dimensions of my life (emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social/cultural, spiritual and vocational). Some dimensions have proven to be easier than others. However, because I live intentionally, I am truly living the life I once dreamed of (if not better)! I feel that God has promoted and prospered me because I am living on purpose – with purpose.


  1. Sheri Booms Holm

    Lovely post, Kathy. And Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite verse, bar none.


  2. I love it, too. It also reminds me of the saying, “We are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.” That makes it easier to take when the answer is, “no” or “not yet.”


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