I’ve been checking in to reflect on my life thus far, acknowledging what I’ve accomplished, what goals I still have to work towards and what parts I need to improve before it’s too late and I have a few terrible ingrained habits as an old hag. I’m rolling up to my dirty thirties (30s are the new 20s, right?) in a few years and want to recalibrate, get back on track and kick more proverbial a*s more effectively. Who doesn’t?! Checking in with oneself every now and again to reflect on how far you’ve come, what you want in life and how to get there is a great way to keep yourself accountable, measure progress and reinvigorate that passionate drive for whatever it is you love to do. I thought about some of my top realizations for living with intention and wanted to lay it down.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing, get excited about what you’re doing.
When we focus too much on our external environment and not the great things happening and great things on the horizon, it’s easy to get depressed about circumstances. While your circumstances can be unfavorable, we have the power to move forward. Coping with challenging situations isn’t always easy, but overcoming circumstances is a choice that everybody has available to them. An even bigger choice is to choose what we put energy towards, instead of depleting energy worrying about what other people are doing with their lives. While it’s important to benchmark where you’re at and can do so by comparing certain areas of your life with others (if it helps you grow), you ultimately should be focusing on your own fulfillment. Don’t take someone else’s version of happiness and think that it will automatically be your golden ticket to fulfillment, everyone is different.
Life is full of special moments, try pausing for a few moments in your day to practice gratitude for what’s going well and feel that warm and fuzzy feeling of appreciation. You can also pump yourself up about what’s ahead for you by dedicating time each month to brainstorm and plan exciting projects for your career, personal development, leisure time, relationships, health and other areas of interest. Making a little progress every day, every week, every month and every year towards being the best version of yourself and doing things that make you feel joyful, full of gratitude and love is only going to help you feel more fulfilled and live with more intention. “Damn, I regret living my life to fullest.”…. SAID NO ONE EVER! Investing energy into making a great life for yourself is never a sh*tty decision.
Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you
It’s easy to live in reaction to everything happening around us, waiting for opportunities to emerge, wondering why some unforeseen circumstance blindsided us. Some things are out of our control, but it doesn’t mean that we are the victim or must wait around for our circumstances to improve with little to no say in the matter. We don’t need to wait until the stars align or signs from a higher power come a knockin’ in order to take initiative – because life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you. Life is brimming with opportunities to snatch up, we don’t have to wait around for fleeting glimpses of success to fall into our lap. We have to try and see life as this thing that has countless number of cool possibilities that will help us experience wonder, fulfillment and purpose.
You are the co-creator of your own life. The universe creates the backdrop, you write the story. Your parents, friends, lovers and naysayers can recommend that you should be living a certain way, but oh sweet thang, let me tell you something — you can live your way. Don’t let cultural status quo bring you down. Let the haters hate, let people disagree with you. Allow yourself to be you and think, believe, get excited about and take action on whatever the heck you want (out of loving curiosity, not out of envy). I talked about there being no rulebook for living life in my last post. You literally can do whatever you want with your experience on Earth.
So, you’re the captain of a “ship,” right. The “ocean” of life may get rocky at times, however you’re always in control of this ship. But you have to pay attention and be aware that you are steering said ship, because if you ain’t paying attention, you will lose control, and ships can capsize, so pay attention and steer it in whatever direction your blessed heart desires. We’re all blessed, life is such a wild ride, and it’s here for you to experience how you see fit.
Less is always more
This ^ headline seems a little counterintuitive. Let me break it down. Less tangible stuff, less decisions, less complexities tend to drive more impact, more intention, more awareness, more passion and more focus. I started to be more aware of this concept after reading The Four Hour Work Week and getting Pareto’s Principle drilled into my memory bank — 20% of effort tends to drive 80% of results. This theory is relatively accurate in business and with anything. I grasped more of this concept also by meditating regularly. Meditating taught me to think less about silly things that don’t matter all that much, trained my brain to be more aware of my thoughts and dispel negative ones causing me stress.
The idea of ‘less is more’ really clicked after reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. One of my favorite concepts from the book is how choosing to make fewer but more effective decisions in your life can solve so many other decisions for you, you don’t need to drain your energy dwelling about other possible decisions you have to make. For instance, if your one critical decision is, “yo, I’m going to work on this project during these specific times this month because it’s my passion and I make time for my passions and I want to make some damn progress, so this is a serious commitment I’m consciously going to keep” then any other decision that would require you to make a decision on whether or not to:
- work on your project or go get drunk on the weekend
- work on your project or watch trash TV instead
- work on your project or go be social because you have FOMO, etc.
.. automatically gets answered without you needing to put much energy towards it and give in to temptation. Your level of commitment to the important decision is top of mind, you mean business and it takes precedent over other decisions.
Your time on Earth is limited, so use it wisely
I listened to a podcast with Sara Blakely as the guest and she shared a bit about being aware of your own mortality and drawing courage and strength from it to be more effective in taking action. The ticking clock of life is rarely addressed, because we’re too caught up in day-to-day and short-term happenings. Confronting that life is short and you don’t really have all that much time to accomplish everything you’d probably wish to accomplish is a truth that is kind of scary and bleak if you dwell on it for too long. While it’s kind of frightening that everyone only has so much time on Earth to be alive, it’s also kind of heartening in a way. Being aware that this experience is temporary kind of has the effect of making people treat it as such – temporary. Life has a cut off point. Time is a precious resource that is diminishing every day, so it’s value increases over time, or should be valued much higher than we tend to value it. Using your time wisely requires a conscious awareness that time passes by and we don’t get it back. Practicing gratitude for the past, the current moment and future experiences can also help refocus how we spend our time.
But, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, too.
Time is limited, so we can’t waste it because it’s precious and irreplaceable. But that doesn’t mean to rush everything in life and stress about the future because time on Earth is limited. I’ve found it really special to try and appreciate each moment (not saying it’s easy to do 100% of the time, but practice helps). Once you start thinking and wondering about stuff in your external environment vs. the experience you’re having right now, the moment has passed. Part of being human is our amazing capability to feel and express emotion – and emotions that I like the most are joy and love. Striving for our own version of happiness is I think what all of us desire, and it can be found in the smallest of instances each day, it doesn’t necessarily have to only come from huge decisions or milestones. It’s okay to slow down, and experience life for what it is in each moment. All we ever has is the now. And that’s something worth pausing to experience and appreciate.