Mini Series: A beginners guide to intentional living
This is the first post in a mini series about intentional living written by my dear friend, Kelsea Bolin. Kelsea is a toddler mom, wife, and lover of life. She has been working diligently on improving how she spends her time and has decided to share her wisdom. Enjoy! - Clare
A Beginners Guide to Intentional Living
“There just aren’t enough hours in the day." had become my mantra.
That was where I found myself shortly after I had our son two years ago. Imagine this: a sleep-deprived “mombie” whose newborn was suffering from colic, returning to a full-time job at eight weeks post-partum where I was not valued or praised for my work, all while trying to be the best mom and partner that my family deserved.
I was run-down and ragged. I was reacting to life instead of living it, stuck in survival-mode so to speak. Doing all the things for all of the people, and not really knowing the why behind it. Do not get me wrong, I like to serve others but the simple fact is this:
I was no longer living with intention.
Instead, I was doing things out of obligation or expectation. Too often, our lives become flooded with the noise of this world. We compare ourselves to others and end up doing all the things we think we should be doing while simultaneously neglecting the things that strike us at our core.
About nine months after I had my son, I changed jobs. I simply came to the realization that the job I was in was causing me more stress and anxiety than it was worth. So I left. I found something that had more flexibility. A place that not only valued my work and a work-life balance, but also me. After a few months of working there, I started to see a glimpse of the old me. The ambitious woman who is relentless in the pursuit to live out her best life. A glimmer of hope in the darkness that I was trying to climb out of.
I spent last summer reflecting on where we had been over the previous year and where we wanted to go as a family. Soul searching to uncover my core values (more on that later), as well as my family's values. I had to dig deep within myself to find out why I had felt so “blah” about the season of life we were in; when being a mom and wife was everything, I had ever hoped and dreamed of.
In that white space of reflection, God convicted me.
It felt like he was saying, “I’ve given you 24 hours and you’re telling me that’s not enough? Are you saying that I am somehow inefficient in my knowledge of how to form a day?” It was then that it became clear to me: If the Lords provision in what he’s given us (24 hours a day) is sufficient it’s not that we need more time to do all the things. It is that we need to put fewer things in our day and be super selective about what makes it on our schedule.
We live in a culture that chronically praises busyness. We use it to gatuge our success, we view it as a status symbol and we even get obsessed with our kid’s busyness. When the reality is this, if something makes it on our schedule then it should be because it aligns with our family and the core values that we have based on what’s important to us and what we feel God has called us to do.
We should not do things just because someone else is doing them, because we feel obligated to do them, or because we’ve set unrealistic expectations for ourselves.
It is this hard and this simple: when our actions align with our defined core values, we find balance & life moves freely.
When we stray from our core values, stress can build beneath the surface stealing our joy. It is our responsibility to determine the things that bring us to our center, and to use them as a filter for every discussion we make. Each time we say yes to something we are effectively saying no to something else, so it’s important that we choose wisely. That means in some cases saying no to good things so we can say yes to the things that better align with our mission. Eliminating the noise helps to create whitespace for what matters most.
Interested? Try these helpful tips!
Tip #1 Brain Dump
write down all of the things bouncing around inside your head. This frees up brain space to actually accomplish something instead of just thinking about it. All too often our free time becomes wasted time simply because we don’t know what we are doing with it. Try this, write down everything you did in a given day down to how many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy you binge watched. On the other side of the paper write down all of the things you hope to accomplish (these are things you want to do and need to do) Compare the two sides and cross out anything that you know you can live without. What’s left are your daily tasks.
Tip #2 Downsize Something.
What's taking up too much of your time? Are you constantly organizing, cleaning or picking up toys? Go through the house and fill one trash bag of things you don't need and donate them. Repeat regularly to manage clutter. Physical clutter can cause us as much anxiety as brain clutter so it’s important to purge often.
Tip #3 Eliminate Distractions
Facebook, text messages, noisy neighbors, and distractions are time killers. Somehow they seep into your day and take over. Put your phone in airplane mode. It sounds simple but it works wonders. Prioritize offline time with your family.
Tip #4 Learn to Say No.
Saying no is not easy, especially if you are a yes person and enjoy pleasing others. For me it’s something I had to learn to do but your time is precious, so save it for things you whole heartedly want. Here are some effective techniques for saying no with grace.
Tip #5 leave work on time, the work will still be there tomorrow.
A huge thanks to Kelsea for sharing her story and valuable insight on how to live simpler and happier. What is something you could declutter today? What part of your day do you enjoy most? Leave a comment below!