When Shauna Niequest (writer, wife, mom and Christian) got up and spoke at Storyline Conference this past November, she tackled a topic that was close to my heart. Intentional Living. This one is hard for me. I like to make plans. I’ll admit it. I sometimes experience FOMO (fear of missing out) and would rather go,go,go then really sit down and decide if the opportunity or social outing is what I really want to spend my time doing (or my family’s).
I like to be social but sometimes I commit to doing things instead of considering how I want to spend my day the best way possible. This might not seem like a big deal but when we are gone all day at soccer or sports, have time to pop by our house to gather things and run off for the evening with friends, I am not living intentionally.
Life is busy and it seems the more technology we introduce into our
lives for convenience the busier we get. Instead of saving time we fill
our time with so many more unimportant time wasters.
But what happens when instead of bombarding ourselves with thousands of updates, messages, information and depleting ourselves with so many things that drain us we said no, and slowed down. And instead we filled our day with the things that nourish our soul and fill us up.
The things that make us more grounded, calmer, happier, kinder,
feeling refreshed and fulfilled? How would our life change if we could
do this? And how would the lives of others around us change if we took
the time to care for and nourish ourselves? We would be more equipped to
help our loved ones, friends, and co-workers.
For me, I have made intentional changes to my days to focus my full attention on the people and things I love and limit the other distractions.
I have begun to realize that I need a plan, and goals- a direction
to move towards even in my social life. Why? Because if I had a plan
for how I want my day, and week, my month and year to look I can start
making smart choices. For instance, If I know I want to spend more time
going on family outings such as hikes and camping I need to plan those
things ahead of time.
Once my kids get home from school each day I try to stop working on my computer or writing. Sometimes I still do more work but In general I wrap up most of the work before 3:30 or 4. And then I have time with the kids, and I usually walk with a friend and our dogs during our kids’ soccer practices at the park.
I enjoy reading so I try and fit in 20-30 minutes of reading time before bed- a book that inspires me, makes me think, a bible verse, or something positive or just relaxing.
If I want to enjoy the company of some of my
closest friends I may consider inviting over a small group instead of
going out with a larger group of friends. Or meeting only one friend for
coffee or on a walk when I want quality time or conversation. When I
want to talk about the real struggles of life, or challenges I am going
through with one of my boys. The real stuff.
And I have to work hard to schedule time to pray and read scripture. If I am not doing a bible study (most of the time), I have to make this time a priority, because if I’m being honest it’s easy for me to say I’ll get to it later. I am still working on making this the first thing I do when I get up in the morning. But I know how important this is for me and how much better the day goes and my attitude is if I spend the time by myself with scripture.
In other words I need to make my time count, to fill it with rich, meaningful things instead of treating my time as if its disposable or I have an unlimited supply of time. I do not. And neither do you. In the past few years I have made an effort to say NO more. I have said no to attending school PTA board meetings. Its just not for me. I am glad someone else is doing it.
But for me, those meetings are during dinnertime and my
husband volunteers Monday through Thursday and Saturdays to run 3 soccer
teams. I need to be available to my family then. And let’s be honest, I
am not sure when I am sitting in a room of 12 women how I am adding
value to the meeting if input is not really needed regularly. I like to
do, not sit, well unless I am binging on the latest episode of Blindspot
or other new tv show. I do help and run a monthly volunteering program.
And I volunteer with other efforts each month.
I also plan to get our dog therapy dog certified so we can take him to different facilities to see the patients. But I try to consider if the task or job someone is asking me to do will either 1) enrich me 2) enrich someone else 3) my opinion or abilities are a fit for the need 4) if it is the most important thing I can be doing during that time. 5) does it take too much time away from my family.
I said no to taking on the pta fundraising position one year because finances are not my strong suit. And the idea of handling the money for an entire school program made me want to run and hide under my covers. It was an easy no. So I wonder, are you living intentionally or just letting life happen? . But I have taken on other pta or volunteering jobs when I feel it will help out the school or a group of kids and it fits with my skillset or passion. For instance, I have been a lunch buddy coordinator for the past 5 years and will help at individual school events throughout the year.
3 Ways to Live More Intentional and Create a Life You Love
- Make a Plan for Your Life
In order to fit in the things we want to do, and to reach our goals, both for ourselves and our families we have to plan. I would grab a notebook or start a Google document and list out Your goals for the next year, two years and five years. For instance, maybe you want to buy a home, or go on a big trip with your family, or take your family on a mission trip, or learn to speak a new language- all of those things take planning, such as saving for the new house or for a vacation, or determining when or how you will take the language classes. Then write down your family priorities for the year and month. If it’s to spend time together, away from distractions each week, then figure out the best way to do that- is it weekend picnics, or camping once a month, or a favorite family activity- but you need to schedule it in. Maybe you want your kids to read more over the summer, well you need to set it and make a plan otherwise unless they already love to read they may not read much.
2. Create criteria to decide if an opportunity is right for you or fits in your schedule
If you find yourself always agreeing to run a pta event, and signing up for the girl scout cookie drive, and seem to always need to be in more than one place at a time- then maybe it’s time to set some criteria, to reflect on and be honest with yourself about what being over-stretched is doing to you, and why you might be saying yes to everything.
You may need a few guiding principles that let you say no to someone or something more often. Someone else needs to step up and take a turn running the group or event.
Decide what you feel are important uses of your time, what time is available, why would you spend time on something (such as will it improve me as a person, help someone out, will it help or hinder my family or time with my family. Are there thing I never want to say yes to (write them down so you can review it regularly). And yes practice writing down and saying no with a statement so you are ready with a response when needed.
For instance, if I know being next year’s PTA president is not an option for me, I will be ready to say something like, I appreciate that you thought of me for that leadership position, but because of my other commitments I am not able to take something else on.
3. Use a daily productivity sheet to focus your Life
Are you spending time on you? Are you spending time on things and people that matter? Sometimes we are so busy we do not realize how little time we are spending with our loved ones, or on improving ourselves. I have created a daily productivity sheet you can check out and use for free if you like it. It helps me focus on the few work projects I need to do, on a scripture, health, putting people first and more.
my beautiful friends,
When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.