The First Step to Living More Intentionally
If I had to name one personal value that I hold dear, it is to live with intention. To me this means not just going through the motions, wondering where the time went and letting life happen to me.
Living intentionally means to wake up every morning with an intention to be fully in your life, embracing each moment as it comes, accepting things that you can’t control while enthusiastically and creatively crafting those things that you can.
There are many ways to live with intention from the time you open your eyes in the morning to the time your head touches the pillow at night. One of the small yet impactful changes I’ve made to live more intentionally started with charging my phone overnight in the other room rather than next to my bed. This simple step disrupted my habit of immediately rolling over and checking social media, the news or email first thing in the morning.
The problem with habits (particularly the instant gratification ones that are usually not good for you in the long term) is that they take away our ability to choose. Instead of making an active choice in the moment we are tethered to what our habit says we should do. Something as simple as keeping your phone at bay and consciously starting the day IN your day, focused on the people around you and the actions associated with a new morning can help quell your mindless behaviours throughout the day.
Before my daughter was born, I had the most luxurious morning ritual. I would wake up, make my coffee and sit comfortably on the couch or in bed while I journaled, read something inspiring, wrote or meditated. Then I would head off to the gym. I started my mornings with intention, setting the stage for a day where I felt guided, present and fueled with enthusiasm.
Nowadays, my little Nova demands my attention first thing. My goal one day is to start waking up before her to have that time to myself, but for now, sleep is a much more valuable and necessary activity! If there’s one thing I’ve learned its that life is all about accepting and creatively adjusting to change. You have to constantly adapt to things being different than they were before. We can bemoan and resist change, we can get angry about it or we can look for the opportunity and blessings in it.
Now, when I wake up in the morning to Nova calling out from her crib, for at least a few minutes I focus only on her. Rather than trying to sneak peeks at my phone while she plays in my arms, I try to stay present with her for the first few minutes of a new day with my phone safely in the other room. Then for the next hour or so, I let chaos reign as as we get her dressed, feed her breakfast and spend some playing while simultaneously getting myself ready, checking in with my team, and answering any easy-response emails.
It’s only then that I have my time. I review my to-do list, highlight my priorities for the day, scan my higher level goals and read an article or two that I’ve been saving before I dive into actual work. Really this only takes about 20–30 minutes. But its 30 minutes that keeps me grounded in my goals, in tune with my values and sets a tone for mindfulness throughout the day even if I’m not always able to maintain it to that level.
What single change could you make to live more intentionally? Here are some other ideas:
1. Live your day in 10 minute increments.
One of the most frustrating things about technology is how easily our time gets sucked into its vortex. You are browsing on your device and the next thing you know you look up and an hour has passed. Imagine what you could have done or enjoyed in that hour! Try bringing awareness to the passing of time by living a day or an afternoon in ten minute increments. So if you do pick up your phone to check social media, glance at the clock first and allow yourself only ten minutes before moving on to something else.
2. Try Tony Robbins’ 9-minute morning meditation.
I truly believe in the power of meditation to ground us and bring perspective to our place in the world, but sometimes it can be hard to squeeze in 20 minutes of quiet. Tony Robbins suggest a nine-minute routine that’s so simple. The first three minutes you reflect on three things you’re grateful for. For the following three minutes you focus your energy on imagining an inner presence that can heal and help solve any obstacle in your life. Finally, you identify three things you’re absolutely going to make happen for yourself.
3. Choose what you let into your life and how much of it.
Whether its exposure to too many superficial/doctored social media images, news, gossip or toxic people, take an active role in deciding how much you allow into your mind and spirit. There are millions of influences coming at us every day…it is up to us as individuals to think critically and decide what we allow to shape us (No Kardashians for me, thank you!).
4. Set goals and review them regularly.
To me goals are about so much more than just accomplishing something. If you set the right goals for the right reasons, they just make life so much more fun! Goals give direction to your wildest dreams. They are the fuel to living more fully and enthusiastically on a daily basis. Set your goals from your heart, not based on what others are doing or what you think you should be doing. Take small steps towards them regularly and watch life become a lot more interesting and enjoyable.
5. Define your values and post them somewhere you can regularly see them.
Identifying your values brings ease to the art of living. Your values are your guide posts — they make every single choice from what to eat for breakfast, to how to spend your Saturday to which job to take infinitely easier. They remind you of who you are and what you have to offer. Some of my values are creativity, mindfulness and authenticity. Do you know what it is really important to you?