Life is busy. In fact, it gets down right crazy most days. We are always on the go with more things on the to-do list than hours in the day. By the end of the day, we are weary and at our wits end. There’s dinner to fix, kids to bathe, and household chores leaving us to feel like all our efforts to get ahead have been exhausted and futile.
But what if we could change all this?
Stop the madness and start to take control of our life again. Live on purpose, with purpose. How would it feel to accomplish something that really mattered? No more hamster wheel, real purpose and real living, simply.
Last year I turned 40. One would think that by the time you reached 40 you would have it all together. You know, you finally figured it all out. Uh.. umm, well… Oddly enough, I believe 40ish is not only when your body starts doing weird things, but more so when you finally start realizing what’s most important to you. I still learn something new every day and most times it’s something new about myself. (Like how having a toilet in the middle of the bedroom floor for two weeks can put a lot of unnecessary stress on a person. I blame my OCD tendencies.) More on this in another post.
I finally came to realize how much of my time and worry is often spent on unimportant things. And it was wearing on me. After one stressful day after another and a self-created to-do list awaiting me everyday, it wore on me both physically and mentally. I suffered from exhaustion, chest pains, shortness of breath, and anxiety. In short form, stress. These were things I did not want to admit. It scared me quite frankly.
What in the world was wrong with me? I’ve never been one to realize when I’ve reached my limit.
When your body starts telling you that you need to slow down, you start to wonder.
What is the source of all this stress and why do I feel like I’ve just been running in circles all day?
Could it be that living from one chaotic moment to the next, day after day, could eventually wear a person down? Yes, it can and it did.
I decided it was time for a change. It was time to stop the chaos, turn off the auto-pilot, and start living intentionally. It was time to get control of the things I had allowed to take me over. I needed this, and I knew it would help me finally start working toward my life goals.
Here are 5 simple things you can do right now to do to stop the chaos and start living intentionally today. It’s working for me and I know it can help you.
1. Recognize where you are.
Putting our lives on auto-pilot causes us to become numb to ourselves. Our hopes and dreams seem to become distant or seemingly impossible. It’s important to check in with yourself and evaluate where you are. I finally admitted to myself I was stressed, overwhelmed, and life was controlling me. Having kids, a job, and two other businesses at home can do that too if you don’t keep it in check. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy with my life, my family and those around me, but this isn’t about them. It’s about my well-being so I can be the best mother, the best partner, the best everything I can be.
Take some time to get in touch with yourself. Do a time audit and find out what really is taking up all your time in a day. Then determine how important those things are to you.
2. Realize where you want to be and define it.
It’s not about lying around on a beach somewhere with nothing to do but sip mojitos all day with your toes in the sand. While that’s my idea of a great vacation, I have a need to accomplish things… things that matter. I want to spend quality time with my family, with Britt, with the kids. Maybe you want to be financially stable, more organized, or eat healthy. Decide what the perfect life would look like for you. Some people desire to have things, some want to be great at something, and others want to do amazing things. Whatever your “happiness” is, define it.
3. Eliminate the junk to make room for the gold.
We love our digital devices. Our home is fully connected through three cell phones, two tablets, two iPad’s, a host of smart TVs, a PC, a laptop, and everyone’s household friend, Alexa. That’s a good bit of technology under one roof. It’s also a huge amount of distractions.
Once you grasp just how much of your time is spent on unimportant things that don’t fit into your bigger picture, it’s time to let them go. This can be a difficult step for some. Once you get to that point in your life that you’re ready to make a change, you’re ready for simplicity, then it will be easier than you think. Just do it.
I turned off all social media notifications on my phone and iPad just like that. All of it stopped. Ahh.. the silence is wonderful. Then I stopped my email notifications. I made the decision (and commitment) I would only check email no more than three times a day (do four times to start if you need to ease in to it), and never before 10am. Just doing this one step has freed up more time in one day than I ever imagined.
When you eliminate the time wasters and distractions, you make room for the important game changing activities that really add value to your life. Just as we declutter our home to make room for the things we need, we have to do the same for our lives.
Do an audit of all the emails you receive. If you’re subscribed to an email, but can’t remember the last time you got any real value from it, unsubscribe. If you’re not ready to turn off all your notifications, then choose at least three types of notifications you are willing to let go of for now. Next week, choose three more. Don’t stop there.
4. What would it take to paint your picture?
In step two, we wrote three statements or goals that would define where we want to be, how we want to live a simpler, less chaotic life. What would it take to get to that goal? Is it weekend- getaways with the family? Signing up for a class to learn a new skill? Starting your own business? Putting more money aside for savings?
Your goals are like a road trip, and you need a map to get there. Once you know what it takes, then you can start making things happen even if it’s baby steps. That’s really all it takes.
Brainstorm a list of actions that you can take today that will get you one step closer to your goals, to living more intentionally. Whether it’s saving an extra $5 a week, or jumping on a low-carb diet to start eating healthy, if it gets you closer to your goal, write it down. Don’t be afraid to get ideas from your family. Believe me, they want you to be happy and less stressed too!
5. Get up early and plan it.
Hold up. Let me just say that I’m still working at this one myself. But, no one said you need to get up at 4am to make life simple. That is not simple for me to do. So, I get up 15 minutes earlier. Those 15 minutes are mine. I use the time to focus and calm the noise before it starts. I think about the things I’m grateful for, two things I want to accomplish for the day that will get me where I want to be, and my long-term goals. Sometimes I journal my thoughts for 10 minutes, or I may hand-letter to exercise some creativity first thing in the morning. The one thing I do NOT do is reach for my phone or check emails or social media.
Maybe you want to spend your 15 minutes doing exercise or meditation, or maybe even in prayer. Either way, this precious time in the morning allows you to gather your thoughts and decide what’s important to you today.
Set your alarm and get up 15 minutes earlier. Grab a notecard, write down your most important goals to accomplish for the day. Keep it to only 2 or three, otherwise it just becomes another long list. If you’re feeling inspirational, write a motivational quote or thought on the card and keep it with you throughout the day. I promise, this small amount of time first thing in the morning will make a huge impact if you stay with it. At the end of the day, reflect back on what you accomplished, what successes you had no matter big or small, and what you hope for tomorrow.
(P.S. Next week, get up 20 minutes earlier.)
It’s that Simple.
Let’s admit it. We are tired of living day-to-day in this fast pace that we’ve all come to accept, and our kids are growing up learning the same things. When you make a conscious decision to simplify life and start living on your terms, the simplicity you find will bring less stress, more focus, and room for what’s most important to you. It’s baby steps, but small actions can have huge impact that can last a lifetime.
Tell me… what is the one thing that is stopping you right now from achieving a simpler, more intentional life?