Living a More Intentional Life: A Daily Practice
Living a more intentional life means learning how to be more present and conscious while going about your day. It’s realizing that you have the power to not let life happen to you, but to consciously decide how you interpret and react to what’s happening in your external world, and your sometimes murky inner world.
All too often, and without us even realizing it, we bring into our day all the ick and upset from the day before and go through the mental motions of continuing to “deal” with it all. We don’t jump out of bed all pumped with enthusiasm, ready to crush some serious goals.
We’re too caught up in our habitual thoughts patterns about what we have to deal with today, just like the days before. It can be grueling and uninspiring. Aren’t you tired of that? Don’t you think you deserve to wake up, full of hope and excitement for the day, as children do? (My little guys bolt around our bedroom at 6 am while I’m grumbling go back to bed. But they’re too busy rolling around laughing trying to get under our blankets to listen to my pleas. I wish that were me!)
Instead, my way of waking up is painful. Immediately my mind goes right to my to-do list. Ugh. There is no joy to be had when thinking about all the work that has to be done. And it doesn’t help that my inner voice sounds more like Eyore than Mary Poppins. Such a drag. The crazy part is that this all happens unconsciously, within seconds of waking up, and I allow it to happen… unconsciously of course. I wake up, think about what I have to do and set about doing it. I begrudgingly start my day.
And it’s not like I’m unhappy, but maybe if you’re my husband and I mumble a good morning as I sluggishly walked into the bathroom while shooing away the kids, you may think I’m quite the unhappy participant in this joy ride called life.
I’m happy and one morning I realized that I didn’t want to get out of bed because I didn’t want to get the day started. That is not ok!
Getting up that way, sluggish and unmotivated, bringing into my day what I went to sleep thinking about was no longer an option I decided. I didn’t want that anymore. So I set about trying to figure out what could work for me that would positively impact my life so I’m waking up wanting to create my day, instead of letting it walk all over me.
I decided to try a few different tactics, like journaling before bed, or journaling once I woke up. Reading inspiring passages from certain books after dropping the kids off to school. Meditating before getting into my work. Keeping a gratitude book and listing three things I’m grateful for every day. All good things, but nothing ever really stuck. So I continued to dig and try and experiment, and I finally came across a practice that I’m able to do, on most mornings, that make me feel like I have some say in how my day plays out. And that’s a pretty darn good feeling!
If you’re looking to be more intentional in your day, to gain control over how you want to feel, and to be clear on what you want to accomplish, this may be good practice for you as well. Use these steps as a guide and adjust as you see fit.
Setting the tone for your day, before stepping into your slippers!
1. Before getting out of bed, think of the exact emotions you want to feel during the day.
Create the tone of your day by focusing on how you want to feel. This challenges the brain which only wants to focus on what’s not right, what needs fixing or is insanely worrisome. (Ever notice that?)
By consciously deciding on the emotions you want to feel, your thoughts will follow suit. Say to yourself three positive feelings you want to experience that day. They may be fulfilled, courageous, and vibrant… and then sit with those emotions for a moment.
2. Next, think of three things you are grateful for.
It could be ANYTHING! The air you breathe, the warmth of the sun you will feel on your skin, the smile on your child’s face, the amazing day that is before you… and feel those emotions that pop up. Really FEEL them. Soak them up so you can carry them with you during the day.
3. Lastly, list three things you’re going to do that are going to set you on the path to achieving your goals.
Make sure they align with how you want to feel, which you clarified in step #1.
It could be cooking dinner at home which will make you feel healthier if you usually order take out.
If you want to feel happier, allow yourself the ability to ignore a negative thought when one arises. Tell yourself you don’t have to dwell on that thought and that you’re going to instead think of something positive in that moment.
If you want to feel accomplished, commit to getting in 20 minutes of exercise come hell or high water!
It may seem ridiculously simple, but that’s the point! I’m telling you, doing this before you even get out of bed can change the trajectory of your day and allow you to accomplish more than you imagined. Plus, it will help make your day that much more enjoyable. Trust me by giving it a try!
Now tell me, is this something you can easily implement into your mornings? Do you have something you do that helps to keep you focused on the day ahead? Please share in the comments below, I would love to learn about you!
AM Costanzo lives in Westchester NY with her two rambunctious boys and her all-around awesome husband. She is a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help women feel strong, powerful and downright fabulous in their bodies!