Have you ever paused for a moment, amidst all the chaos and pressure of your daily life, and wondered, “Wait—why am I doing this? Why am I here? Where am I going? How did this happen?”
I’m not talking about viewing your day-to-day routine and activities as meaningless, but rather as a series of random or repetitive events, happening at the speed of light, through which you move almost unconsciously. I’m talking about a cycle of similarity, comfort—dare I say—complacency?
Maybe you’re sick of doing the same thing every day. Maybe you spend hours on commuting, at a job you care little about, or just have trouble seeing any real cumulative impact to the activities that make up your life. Regardless, if you’ve ever come to this point in your life, you know immediately that you have two choices: continue in tepid ambivalence or find a way to make a change.
When this moment hit me, I was caught up working ninety hour weeks in tech at a job I actually really cared about, but outside of which I spent very little time or energy building the rest of my life. While the work was rewarding, I had the “brick wall” moment after winning an award that meant a great deal to me, because it acknowledged the impact I’d had on my colleagues through the work I’d spent years pouring my existence and energy into evolving. After the big moment and subsequent celebration with co-workers, I went home to my beautiful place in California and cried alone in my bedroom. My work had been acknowledged, I was honored and humbled, and yet I felt nothing but a profound emptiness. A void I’d been distracting myself from for what I am now sure had been decades. A deep denial of self, despite my avid belief that I was walking the path made for me.
You see, I’d been tricked. I was living a life that I had been taught meant “success.” When I told people where I lived, what I did for a living, how I spent my time and energy, they all marveled at the picture I’d painted for them. And sure, it was a beautiful picture. A great story… for them. The thing is, as you may suspect, it is not for our parents, our peers, our professors to define success for us; that is a task that can only be undertaken by each of us. It should not be taken lightly, but rather with reverence and regularity.
Okay. So where does that leave us? Once you’ve gained an awareness of the above, you might wonder how the hell you’re to start moving in the right direction. Don’t freak out. Just take a deep breath, celebrate this little (read: HUGE) awakening, and read on for some simple first steps to get you going.
Step One: Choosing Intentionality
Alright—this one may sound obvious but it is absolutely critical. Once you’ve become aware of the desire to evolve your lifestyle into one of purposed action, there is a choice to be made. Like many important decisions in life, this is not a choice made once and never revisited; it is a daily, sometimes hourly, set of choices to remain “tuned in” and dedicated to the path ahead of you.
Let’s talk for a moment about what “intentionality” means. For our purposes, this basically means thoughtfully directing the elements your daily life. Think of yourself as a designer or an architect—you have one life and full control of what that life looks like. If you need some help putting the (very limited) time we have as humans into perspective, this article offers great visual representation of life broken down by the relationships that matter most.
You’ll start to pay attention to how you spend your time and, more importantly, your energy. You’ll analyze the value of any given activity against your goals. You’ll need to carve out time to reflect and nurture the vision you set for your life.
It’s easy enough to say—just decide you want to make a change… it is much more difficult to actually implement the motions that will help you achieve your desired results. So now that you know “buying in” is the first step, let’s talk about some tactics you can employ to help keep this point top-of-mind until it becomes a habit.
1. Find Five Minutes, Twice a Day, to Pause
2. Keep a Journal
3. Schedule Time to be Unscheduled
4. Create a Purpose Statement
5. Simplify, Meaningfully
- A Practical Guide to Living Intentionally
- Step Two: Triangulating Your Purpose