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Outdoor Diary: When Outside Time Intentionality Gets Rotten

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We know that being intentional is one of the most important keys to forming and keeping any habit, including outdoor ones. But Amy has a special knack for smashing something good into her box and then taking it way too far. In this episode she explores where she goes wrong, and how to keep that from happening.

Some of the good stuff:

[:26] Amy loves rules

[2:10] What is intentionality?

[2:36]Intentionality or rotten rules?

[5:25] Where to find Humans Outside

Connect with this episode:

Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

There are some things people don’t say about me. Or, maybe, there are some things people DO say about me, but I wish they’d say less. Or I wish they’d say it as a compliment, not as a qualifier.

Here’s an example: Amy loves rules. Yes, that’s true. I think rules help me chase what I want in life. They give me structure. They make me feel calm.

But most people? When they say someone loves rules, usually they mean that person isn’t flexible or can’t live in the moment. Those are bad things.

And so I work to be flexible, to keep a mindset of abundance — that there is more than enough of whatever in the world for me, and we don’t need rules for every single thing.

I want to be someone who can pivot to something outside the schedule or rules I’ve created for my day or even for my time spent outside. I want to be flexible. But it’s hard.

You know I love structured challenges — it’s why I started out to see what would happen if I went outside every day for a year. I don’t need a plan for every moment, per se — I just crave rules around what I should expect from any given day, and most of those rules involve having a plan.

I like having an idea of what I’m going to do throughout the day. And I ADORE the idea of a training schedule built against any goals. For example, hiring a coach to help me with my running was one of the best things I’ve ever done. No more nilly willy going out there and doing whatever run felt good in the moment. Now we have rules.

That works well for me. Maybe it doesn’t work well for you. That’s OK.


So now let’s talk about intentionality for a second. Intention isn’t rules so much as it is a mindset. What are you focused on for today? What do you want out of this moment, out of this time outside? How do you feel like living right now? It’s pausing to think things through. It doesn’t require planning. It doesn’t require rules. It’s just thought.

OK unless you’re me. And then very quickly intentionality becomes a code-word for RULES. Intentionality, when I abuse it, is me setting rules for my day, for how I expect things to go, how I want nature to act when I head into it and how I want to receive it.

And that’s where it gets rotten. I take intentionality and smack it around until it looks like me trying to control all of the situations.

So. Why is that important and why is it something I’m thinking about right now? Two things.

First, on episode 5 of Humans Outside season 4, I’ve got the amazing Christina Dunbar, founder of the Intentional 10 method, joining me to talk about that word — but also why taking time to set those intentions enables us to get outside. It’s not because of rules as I said – it’s because of thought. Intention equals purposeful thought.

Next, I am forced to confront the idea that when I head outside with intentionality, turn it into rotten rules and try to inflict that on nature, things aren’t going to go very well for me. Nature does not follow my rules. It’s not going to give me the thing I’ve decided it should and it’s not going to abide by my expectations. Instead, it’s going to do whatever it is going to do.

Sure, nature has its own rules — usually. There are seasons. There’s average temperature. There’s sunrise and sunset. There’s the fact that animals typically behave one way or another. And there are exceptions to how all of those things appear to and impact me and you, and there’s only one for sure: nature is not going to bend to my expectations, and it’s not even sorry.

And that means that to keep myself from eternal frustration and to make sure that I actually get all of the goodness nature has for me, I need to do this one thing: I need to control my intentionality.

I, without any doubt, believe that intentionality is the key to successful day-by-day habit keeping. It’s the key to getting out of life the things we feel driven to pursue. It’s the action that gives us the ability to chase the God-given gift of ambition, or drive, or purpose or whatever word you want to use.

But when I abuse it and turn it to The Rules at every single chance, I set myself not only up for disappointment, but also for failure. Because the rules are never actually going to control the fun. They are always going to leave me feeling like things could’ve been better, had I just put my hands forward, palms up — figuratively at least — to receive whatever is there for me, instead of grabbing at the world to get what I see as it flits by.

And that’s how I’m going to live this week – with open intentionality.

If you want to see how that’s going, you can spy on my daily outdoor time by following me on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. It’s a special kind of autumn gorgeous here in Alaska right now, and these colors are worth seeing if you ask me.

I want to see whatever you’ve got going on outside wherever you are. And you can share that with me on Facebook or Instagram by using #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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