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I’m sure at one point or another you have heard the phrase it’s time to start Living intentionally, but what does that actually mean? Living intentionally is about setting a course for your life that you wake up every single day with a mindset and a plan to try to achieve. Notice I said a plan. Planning is the key thing here. Having a goal is great and we’ve talked about goal setting many times. But if you have goals in life, whether it’s personal short-term like reading a book in a month or professionally, like having 4 hours of talk time on average this week or long-term like quitting a bad habit (biting nails for me), or losing 20 pounds. If you have some goals set already, great. But, if you have no plan established to help you get there, you’ll find yourself kind of wandering about just winging it day by day.
At some point, I found myself writing down the same goals down month after month & year after year on my New Years list until I literally got sick and tired of being frustrated wanting the same thing over and over again, not getting any closer. And I had to have a come to Jesus moment with myself and a conversation with God about what I was doing wrong. That’s when it occurred to me that I needed to start living intentionally, in every area of my life. Personally (with my husband and my kids and my friendships – I wanted to be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend), professionally ( I wanted to grow with the company and help the company be even better than it already was) mentally (I wanted to continue to learn and improve myself), emotionally ( I wanted to balance work and home and not be stressed), physically ( I wanted to eat healthier and build some muscles) & spiritually (I wanted to spend more time with God in devotion and in prayer and get closer to Him). There were a lot of wants, a lot of “goals” and a lot of those goals I can still find on a Google Doc from a New Years Resolution years back. But I quickly realized that to move to the next step, to get from where I was to where I wanted to be would take intentional planning.
When I became a mom and I had a newborn, every outing was a thing. We had to pack the baby bag in advance, making sure there were enough diapers just in case, an extra change of clothes, some bottles, some hot water in case I needed to make a bottle. The whole works. My husband and I would talk beforehand about how long we would stay, we’d kind of have to work out what time we’d leave to get there at a certain time to leave by a certain time to get home before the baby got cranky. It was all planning and that’s when the trip was a better experience for all of us, baby included. And that, I realized, was what needed to seep into the other areas.
I needed to turn my wants, my goals into actionable steps that would help me achieve them. So setting goals is Step 1. You have to first and foremost see yourself somewhere, doing something. You can’t create a plan until you know what you’re trying to achieve. Think about it this way, Google Maps cannot give you directions until you add a destination. Think about it. If you’re trying to get directions, find a way to get somewhere (if you’re trying to make a plan) and you don’t have the destination address (aka goals, where you’re trying to go) you cannot get directions. You can try to make it up or wing it, like a lot of us do, but more than likely you’re going to end up spinning in circles. Even worse, you may actually just by happenstance get there, but you won’t even know because you don’t know what you want. You don’t have an endgame. (Shout out to Marvel there by the way). What’s your end-game? Step 1.
Now what I’m talking about is moving up from Step 1 (having the goals, great, check got that) to Step 2 which is where the planning comes in.
So going back to my list to illustrate. I mentioned I had some things I wanted to do personally and professionally. I needed to spend more time with my husband, apart from the kids. So we established a monthly date night. I went on Google Calendar and I literally picked a day every month and added it to our Cash Family Calendar (yes we have a Cash family calendar, i think everyone should be using Google Calendar really like for everything) but I put date night down. And I took it further and I wrote down a list of all the cool date night ideas that we had. And I went on for each date night in the year and I put down an activity that we would do. I realized the more you have things in place beforehand, the less procrastination and just straight up laziness can kick in.
I plan our meals for the month. Why? Because I realized that if I didn’t at least have an idea of what was on the menu, the chances of us just buying out was greatly increased, especially after a long day at work. Now I’ve slackened up a bit and have a plan for the week but it helps. It not only saves us money (not buying out) but it allows us to be intentional about wanting to eat healthier. Fast food is probably one of the most unhealthy things we could eat. But it’s convenient so we find ourselves just ordering in. But that’s where I had to put a plan to my goal of eating healthy and the food prep plan helps us do that.
Now, when it comes to work and even personal stuff I have a notebook and my husband used to make fun of me for this but now he’s doing it. But in my notebook, for work every single day, without fail for years, my day starts on a new page with the title Things to do and the date. Under that I have 4 sections, Meetings and I list all of those with the time and who it’s with, and then I have To Do, where I write all the things I need to accomplish in that day and then I have a Timeline section and a Notes section. Now I implemented the timeline section about 2-3 years ago because I realized that especially in a work environment where we only have a certain amount of hours to get what seems like a million things done in, I had to be very intentional about my time and how it would be divided.
You have to learn to decipher what is important that needs to be addressed above everything you already have planned vs what you can take care of later in the day or even tomorrow. Your time is precious. Time is money. TIme is that one thing that we can’t control that we always need more of and we never know how much of it we actually have. So be sure you’re spending yours wisely. Have a plan for your day. Know what you’re going to do and then be disciplined enough to actually do it. At least, try it and see if and how it works for you. The coolest and lamest feeling of excitement comes from a checkmark from a things to do item that you accomplished in a day.
If you have a big goal that can’t be accomplished in a day, break it down into pieces that can be done over time. I had a friend that kept saying I want a house, I want to move, I want my own place, I’m tired of renting, I just want a house. And she said that for a while. And one day I said to her, what are you doing about it besides talking about it? And she says it’s a whole thing, she probably needs a lot of money and she doesn’t know about the credit and I just said okay. Your goal is to get a house. Great Step 1. Let’s move up. Step 2 now, grab a piece of paper. Let’s start to break this up in some bite sized pieces. You need to know what your credit score is, sign up for credit karma or credit sesame or experian – they’re all free, you can do that in minutes. Next item, you need to know what you’d be qualified for – get a preapproval from a lender. Costs you nothing. See the types of houses that are available around the amount that you qualify for and if it’s not enough, then next step start some savings. I won’t go into the full detail but you get the point. Big goals, great. Start to break those down into smaller chunks so you slowly start to get closer and closer to it.