Do you have a daily gratitude or mindfulness practice? Do you journal or meditate everyday? Some of the most successful people in the world site intention setting daily rituals as the secret to their success. Gratitude. Mindfulness. Intentionality. Each of these things are critical to living a life of purpose. Yet, I would argue that they all lack one key ingredient, acknowledging the pain and hardship we face every day.
Now, this is not to say that gratitude is not important. Being overly focused on suffering will also lead to a lack of intention. Some of us are stuck in the struggle of life, and need gratitude to pull us out, to remind us that there is light and good even in the midst of the darkest suffering. We have to acknowledge both the good and the bad, because gratitude is only half of the story. You have to face the pain of the day in order to truly set an intention that will allow you to build upon your purpose. If you only focus on gratitude, your intention will crumble when the struggle comes, and we know that struggle is a given. Failure will come. Pain is present. Our intention has to acknowledge the pain to find growth in the midst of both joy and suffering.
When I was in the midst of grief from my miscarriage, I needed a way to remind me that there was joy in the midst of my pain, I needed to identify specific ways that I was hurting and struggling each day to bring them out in the open, and I also needed to set an intention and find purpose – not in spite of the pain – but because of it. The Daily Agave practice was birthed out of this need for a balanced intentional practice in my life. Agave plants are the perfect symbol of the balance of life and death. They exist in three stages:
- The initial agave plant grows and flowers.
- The agave dies.
- Through death hundreds of baby plants are left behind to grow and thrive.
I developed a Daily Agave ritual to help me to focus on life through the three stages of the agave:
- The initial agave plant grows and flowers: This is the phase of gratitude where you acknowledge the good in your life. Where is there growth and flowering for you? Where is the joy?
- The agave dies: This is suffering and pain. Where are you facing pain today? Where is there struggle? What are you wrestling with or stressed about?
- Through death hundreds of baby plants are left behind to grow and thrive: This is where intention and purpose come in. In light of the joy and pain that you have recognized, what is your intention today? Choose an intention that fits with the larger vision you have for your life.
Here are some real-life examples of how this practice has helped me. A few months ago, I was going to meet the new CEO at my company for the first time because she was joining a meeting I was leading with my team. I was really excited to meet her and to have the chance to showcase my leadership in a way that was going to leave a positive impression on her (gratitude). However, I was really struggling with self-doubt and feeling like I wasn’t enough, particularly because of some comments a co-worker had made about me earlier that week (struggle). I decided to set an intention that I would spend a few minutes before the meeting repeating to myself that I was enough and other empowering truths so that I would enter the meeting in the best possible headspace (intention). I walked out of that meeting feeling incredibly proud and that I had represented my true self and left a positive impression.
Here is another example: I was entering into the weekend after a long and stressful week. I was in desperate need of rest and rejuvenating family time, but also feeling frazzled by all of the things I wanted to accomplish that weekend. I took a break and went into my room to be alone for a few minutes, collect my thoughts, and center myself with the Daily Agave Practice. I thought about my daughter’s messy Mac and Cheese face that she had just wiped all over me with a sloppy kiss. I also thought about how my son had grabbed my hand on the couch earlier that day and asked if we could hold hands forever (all the heart eyes). I thought about my caretaking husband who agreed to get the kids ready for bed so I could have this moment of peace (gratitude). I asked myself why I was feeling so stressed and spent some time journaling to uncover my feelings. I realized that my feeling of anxiousness was coming from a sense that I was not reaching my goals fast enough, and that was translating into a belief that I was not enough (struggle – I am sensing a theme here…). Finally, I set an intention for that weekend to savor my family by doing something where we could really enjoy each other’s company, and I also adjusted my expectations for the tasks I was going to accomplish. Instead of creating a to-do list trying to prove my enough-ness, I thought about what was realistic for me to accomplish within the time and priorities of spending quality time with my family (intention).
In each of these examples, you can see how starting with gratitude sets the tone, and then by bringing the struggle to light, I am able to shift my focus and set an intention that really puts me right in the center of the life I was designed to live. In the work example, it was only through uncovering my feelings of inadequacy that I was able to really address my insecurity and set an intention that grounded my identity in truth. In the home example, reminding myself about how grateful I was for my family, and also getting to the root of where the anxiety about my to do list was coming from allowed me to set an intention for my weekend that was purposeful and life giving.
The Daily Agave practice has truly changed my life. It was my lifeline when I was deep in the belly of grief over the loss of my son, and now it is a tool I use to focus each day on my goals and purpose. I believe this practice can be useful to you too. If you are curious and want to try it out, you can subscribe to my emails and get the FREE Agave Starter Pack including a FREE printable of the Daily Agave practice. This is also a daily part of my Agave quarterly planner, if you are interested in fully incorporating this practice into your day to day life head to the Agave Planner Etsy Shop to get yourself a copy. It only takes 5 minutes a day to create focused intentions that will help you plan the life you were designed to live.