Living intentionally is knowing what you want, getting rid of everything that is excess (minimizing), and enjoying a simple life. Allow me to join you on you journey for the next few minutes.
Know what you want
The hardest part of living intentionally is knowing what you want. There is a quote by Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland that goes something like this, “If you don’t know where you are going[…]” it doesn’t matter which road you choose.
Being the youngest of nine children I was naturally a follower. I grew up doing everything my older siblings had done before me, such as sports and dance, along with working on the farm and I never really thought of what I wanted to do. I have always tried to do what everyone expected of me whether it was just in my own mind or if someone actually said it out loud.
Marrying Colter has opened my eyes to a lot of what the world is about. Being the oldest of seven children, he was the ringleader for ideas. He loves adventure. He loves the adrenaline rush. He loves having a good time. The different thing about his is though, is that he makes an intentional effort to participate in things he enjoys.
It wasn’t until this year after my ACL surgery that my eyes were really opened on how I was living and how I want to live. I have spent most of my life until now, doing tasks that other people expect of me, saying yes to all that is asked of me, and following the crowd.
So how do you live intentionally? How do you do the things you want to do without feeling selfish and pushing others away? How do you improve your quality of life?
You need to take a step back and decide what is most important in your life. Number your list of priorities with the most important thing at the top. An analogy I recently heard compared priorities to balls we are juggling in the air. Let’s say work is a rubber ball and your family is a glass ball. If you drop the ‘work’ ball, it will bounce right back. If you drop the ‘family’ ball, it will drop and shatter.
There is balance in life and we need money to sustain our families but we need to make time for those things that enrich our lives. It makes us happier and more productive when we go back to work.
Evaluate all the demands on your time and with that, make sure your time is spent where your most important priorities lie.
Weed out the excess
Get rid of excess pulls on your time. Now that you have listed your priorities, focus on them. Do the things that take up your time correlate with your priorities? Are you filling your schedule up with items just to keep you busy or do those items bring you closer to your goals and dreams? Am I living my life or what someone else expects my life to be?
It is ok to say no to people, activities and tasks? People will understand. Activities will always be there. And tasks will eventually get completed. Saying no is a big deal to me and I have a hard time because I am a helper. I want to help people and it makes me feel good to help people, and I will continue to do so because that’s me, but there will be times when I simply should say no. With my new found desire to live intentionally, I really have to ask myself if what is asked will bring me closer to my goals, dreams and what I want out of life.
Make a list of goals you want to accomplish throughout your life. If you don’t know exactly what you want, then start a list today of hopes and dreams. You can always add more later. Don’t let fears get in the way of dreaming big. After you set your goals and dreams in life, take one goal at a time and decide what little thing you can do now to take a step closer to that goal.
Are you worried about what your peers and family might think? People think of you less than you assume. Shoot for the stars.
Minimize physical things in your life. Take a step back and think if you really need an item. For me, that was getting rid of a lot of things/toys/clothes I had for my three little girls. If I am spending all my time nagging my girls to pick up toys or picking them up myself, doing laundry all day, every day, then I do not have time to do the things that enrich my life, that add spice and diversity. Some people would say that more is better? More just adds chaos to the equation and eats up time and money.
We get into the mode that we want everything for our children, we want everything for us. What happened to experiences? Talking with friends? Exploring the world? Having a happy life? Why do we always have to keep up with the Jones’?
Minimizing helps you live intentionally because you are only dealing with what YOU need and not what everyone else has. It gives you more time to spend on the things YOU want to do.
It may seem strange to change your way of thinking to live intentionally but take 30 minutes right now and begin your journey. 10 minutes to list those things that are most important, 10 minutes to look at your daily tasks to see if they are beneficial to your priorities, and 10 minutes to look at those things that are taking up excess space in your life!
After you have evaluated your priorities and simplified your schedule and space, schedule a 30-minute space of time where you can sit down and write down at least three (3) of your goals or dreams! My dad always told me “a goal unwritten is but a wish”. Then get after those dreams and goals and live a life full of intention, not suspension!