3 Ways to Start Living More Intentionally
3 Ways to Start Living More Intentionally
I started this journey to slower living about 3 years ago. It didn’t come out of Pinterest inspiration or for the dreamy aesthetic. It came out of a brutal awakening that if I DIDN’T find a way to slow down, my body would not be keeping up with me.
I developed what my doctor now believes to be Fibromyalgia (though there’s a lot of argument in the medical world if that is a catch all term for something else they haven’t discovered yet.) Regardless, it’s an autoimmune disorder where my body literally attacks itself causing inflammation, pain and numbness throughout it. It is believed to be onset by stress or trauma.
I didn’t know any of that when it started, though. I just knew that my body was literally shutting down when I had a week full of wedding orders, client work, errands to run, family responsibilities to fulfill, emotional expectations to keep up with, etc. At one point, my arms were so numb, I couldn’t feel them when writing. Which - as a calligrapher hired to do calligraphed place cards that week - that was pretty terrifying. It woke me up to the fact that my body is my business tool, and if I don’t take care of it properly, it will fail. And thus, my business will not succeed.
It took the fear of not being able to work to get me to stop working and slow down.
Since then, I’ve come so far in my journey of intentional living. Everything about our world has shifted and adjusted to a sustainable pace. Not because it’s the trendy thing to do but because it’s literally my business (and life) insurance. But I remember how crippling the idea of slowing down felt. I truly thought I could not remove one thing from my life because EVERY THING I did was too important. If you’re there -- I get it. I’m with you. But I’ve also gone before you and can say that it’s possible and it’s worth it.
I decided to write a simple starting guide for taking the leap into SLOWING DOWN - not just for a pandemic, not just for a month, not just for vacation, but for LIFE.
Step 1: Have grace for yourself.
The beginning of anything is hard. You won’t get it right all the time and that’s okay. But taking a step toward living a fuller, more abundant life that allows margin for breathing and savoring the moment IS POSSIBLE. Even for the busiest of people. I promise. But it will feel hard and that means you’re making a change. Give yourself grace for the process and be vigilant in taking small steps.
Step 2: Make a brain dump list of EVERYTHING you do.
What you are personally responsible for, what you fill your days with, what you want to fill your days with.
And yep, I mean everything. Your job, your weekly tasks, meal prepping, cooking, laundry, travel taking care of kids, reading books, volunteering at that organization you love, gardening, etc. Get as specific as you can!
Then, separately write 4 categories of what you want your ideal life to look like. What do you want more of? What is most important to you? Traveling, time with family, making a difference, time for hobbies, your marriage, etc. Again, be specific here.
Go back to your list and circle 12 THINGS that line up with those 4 categories. (Aim for 3 per category). These are things you should be spending the most time with. They are your priority. It might take a while to shift to that being possible, but that’s your goal! When you get to a place where these items take your priority focus, that’s where you’ll feel the abundance of life.
You will feel like you have more control over your life instead of life having control over you. Remember that having margin in your day is so important. We weren’t created to just hustle from task to task, thing to thing.
Then, start taking your mind captive.
This is much more challenging than it sounds. But it’s the root to implementing all of this. You MUST start choosing to take your brain captive and being mindful about what you are doing, how you are doing it, what you feel when you do it, and if it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, you need to go back to the first part of step 2 and find out if it aligns with your goals. If it doesn’t you should consider cutting it out.
Step 3: Start thinking long-term with how you spend your money & time.
Where you spend your money, your heart is also. Cheesy....yes. Very. Haha. But also really true.
Be intentional with your money and how you spend it so that you are making long term investments that don’t only serve the present moment, but serve your long term goals.
For example, in terms of shopping for clothes you can do this a few ways. This could look like buying clothes that aren’t cheaply made in China and choosing clothing shops that support small business, are made ethically, or utilize fabrics that will last longer than the $15 shirt from Tj Maxx. It could also be choosing items that form a “capsule wardrobe” so that you are investing in staple pieces that are well made and accessorizing with smaller, cheaper seasonal items.
You will make a bigger investment now, but the pay off will bring you joy longer and allow for less frustration when the shirt needs replaced requiring more time to be spent shopping for another mediocre shirt you don’t necessarily love, but fits the immediate need.
Making small incremental changes like these in all areas of your life and being mindful to choose longevity needs vs. present day wants will offer you more joy and happiness in the long run.