• Parul Deora Somani

How to Live an Intentional Life

I’ve been told that days go slowly, but that years fly by. Sure enough, in the blink of an eye, we’re ringing in another decade. The 2010s were momentous for me, with a coast-to-coast move, the purchase of a home, my daughters evolving from newborns to school-aged children, expected and unexpected career changes, and, oh yeah, a cancer diagnosis that redefined my outlook on life. There was so much that happened in the past 10 years that I never expected, that I can’t begin to predict what the ‘20s will bring. That said, while we can’t control everything that will happen, we can live a life filled with intention.


Companies are expected to have a “north star,” a vision for the business that motivates teams and guides priorities and resource allocation. A lack of a clear strategy can result in uncertainty, confusion, wasted effort, and regret. Why shouldn’t we as individuals have our own “north star?” Isn’t it possible that having an articulated vision for what we want out of a year or a decade or a lifetime, can clarify for ourselves our own priorities and how we allocate our time? Few people I know, however, make the time for such reflection and planning for themselves or their families.


My husband and I are soon to conduct our “life strategy session” for 2020. It is our way of carving out time to think about what our intentions are for the coming year for each of the following dimensions. This conversation includes a discussion of what is going well, what else we’d like to happen, and how we intend to achieve that greater aspiration. Other families may have their own approach to something similar, but we find documenting our discussion points and action items in an excel file makes it easier to hold ourselves accountable (or maybe it’s just because we’ve spent years in business and find comfort in spreadsheets).


Family

  • The four of us

  • Each child

  • Us as a couple

  • Our parents

  • Our siblings

  • Our extended family


Friends

  • Crew X

  • Crew Y

  • etc.


Professional

  • My career

  • My husband’s career


It’s worth clarifying that the output of this discussion should not be a long to-do list. It is not meant to result in an over-planned schedule. It is, however, meant to result in intentions that serve as an over-arching guide for how to spend your time, along with ideas of how to potentially fulfill those intentions. Examples for the above dimensions could include:

  • increasing our children’s exposure to volunteering (e.g., doing a family service activity together)

  • investing in more 1:1 time with each child (e.g., monthly parent-child dates, an annual 1:1 parent-child trip)

  • maintaining strong friendships (e.g., organize a ladies weekend with my girlfriends)

  • investing in professional growth (e.g., explore board opportunities)

The relative prioritization of dimensions may change year to year, and some years, the only intention for a sub-dimension may be to “maintain status quo.”


For me, 2019 was all about discovery - making time to be unscheduled and present to rediscover my own priorities and passions. This intentional focus allowed me to evolve from being confused and uncertain at the beginning of the year to re-energized and focused by the end. As I look to 2020 and this coming decade, my intention will be “impact” - driving impact on my children while they’re still willing to listen and learn from me, and driving impact on society through my work with Silver Linings.


When I look back at the story of my life, I want to believe it was one that I wrote along the way.

Many of us spend years letting life just happen to us. When I look back at the story of my life, I want to believe it was one that I wrote along the way. I challenge you to do the same.


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Parul Somani

Mother. Warrior. Storyteller.

Parul is a business executive and cancer survivor turned storyteller on a mission to inspire others to design their own silver linings. As the Founder of Silver Linings, Parul combines her experiences as a young working mother diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30s, a caregiver who transformed her parents' lives with her patient advocacy, and a businesswoman with 15+ years of experience in management consulting and executive roles in consumer, technology, and healthcare companies. Parul aims to help organizations and individuals understand the value of health advocacy, resilience, and a positive mindset. She has shared her personal story through her cancer blog that's been read in ~80 countries, films on survivorship and mindset, TV and radio segments, podcast interviews, and public speaking engagements. More information about her mission, story, and portfolio of work can be found at DesigningSilverLinings.com.

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