INTENTIONAL LIVING mom of three
WHY AM I UNHAPPY?
I was standing in my basement looking at a small metal sign that read ‘hot chocolate 50 cents’. I bought it to fill a spot in my first ‘adult home’ out of college.
I thought it said ‘this woman has a heart for nostalgia and simpler times because she put this old-timey metal sign to in her very grown-up kitchen’.
I put down the sign and looked at the stuff in front of me. A second-hand baby chair I never used, bags of random clothes, boxes of miscellaneous stuff we moved across the province, old CDs, a broken mop, a box of assorted candles.
The list went on.
The list was truckloads long.
All of this stuff was stored in my basement with a little trail from one end of the room to the other. I had recently read about minimalism and was so inspired to tackle it. I felt like I suddenly had permission to let go of all this stuff.
I was down there to start decluttering for the first time in my life. My husband was upstairs keeping our three small kids busy. A feat that both of us were often eager to be relieved of.
I started ugly crying.
All of this stuff.
All of these decisions to make.
All of these things I spent money on because I thought they solved a problem or solidified my identity.
All of this wasted space.
DECLUTTERING MY LIFE WAS HUMBLING
Through the gradual decluttering of my home, I was coming face to face with all the areas of my life that I hadn’t paid much attention to. I just bought the decor, stocked the hobby supplies, said the words, hung up the clothes, and then felt exhausted and lacking at the end of the day.
This decluttering experience was uncomfortable.
It was pushing me to see how I was responsible for my life. A belief I hadn’t embraced yet. Instead, I was complacent, I was just reacting to whatever came up in my day. I was acting like a victim in many areas of my life (especially motherhood).
So, of course, I wasn’t happy.
Conclusion: I was the only one with the control to make a change and I was being blind to it.
Action: I knew I wanted to be the one directing my life. I wanted to decide how my home looked. I wanted to decide how my days went. I wanted to do things to improve my parenting, my marriage, my health, my heart. I suddenly craved the opportunity to make a plan for myself.
I read that it was called Intentional Living.
WHAT IS INTENTIONAL LIVING?
Intentional Living means living your life in line with your own values and priorities. It means knowing what is most important to you and doing things, saying things, planning things, buying the things, believing things, that are in line with this.
It is simply put, in my mind: living your life on purpose. The way you spend your money, your time, your space, your resources are all supporting a purpose that you have decided for yourself. It is saying yes to what you value most and letting the rest go.
However, it isn’t just knowing the life you want and how you want to get it (your values and vision). It is also using your values to guide you in how you show up in your life. Which means, moving from a victim of our lives to being proactive with our lives. It means moving from withdrawing to actively engaging in our lives and relationships (even when, especially when, it is hard).
So I thought I would try it out and start with the most consuming part of my life: parenting.
The first place we tried out being intentional was with our parenting. On a New Year’s Eve we wrote out lists on what we wanted to do with our kids in their childhood and the values and qualities we wanted to teach them.
We finally had some direction. We finally had some shared vision. It was all there on the page in a big scratchy list.
I felt this mix of thrill and dread as we started taking control of our days and did things ON PURPOSE with our kids. It was fun for them. It was hard for me to start undoing the years of auto-pilot I had been on. I had recently learned my Enneagram type and was finding myself in the arena with a lot of Blind Spots I had been living my life with.
I had to wrestle with my mindsets over the discomfort I felt. I had to rely on Conor to talk me into things I talked myself out of. I had to pray for a lot of grace while I stepped outside of everything that was comfortable to me. I had to wrap myself up in a blanket after stressful road trips – which I said were important to do as a family but they were so flipping hard for me.
LIVING AN INTENTIONAL LIFE
As we gained our footing in becoming more proactive parents, I felt like I was ready to try other ways of living my life, on purpose.
We turned to the lists we made on New Years. Conor and I each a list of things we wanted to do more of this year.
For the first time in my life, I had goals for myself. I mean, at least goals outside of ‘go to college, get a stable job, find a basement suite and hang up some old-timey decor’. Which, if I stop to think hard about that, it probably wasn’t my definition of success but the one I was raised with. I was ready to have this new definition of what a successful life looked like to me.
This time my vision and goals were fueled by what inspired me. Those parts of that went to sleep long ago. My vision and goals were almost like scouts sent in to root out those areas of complacency.
I knew the life I wanted was on the other side of discomfort. I would have to go through the discomfort to get there.
I wanted better health, a clearer home, a relaxed schedule, time to sing and cook and sit outside with my kids. I wanted to have a kinder marriage. I wanted to be a better friend. I wanted to know more about who God made me to be, and not who the world told me I should be.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT INTENTIONAL LIVING
I’ve spent the last five years trying to find ways I can live my life more intentionally.
Here are some things I have learned:
1. I’m not a victim of my life
Outside of extenuating circumstances, our life is the result of all our mindsets, decisions and habits. And even in the extenuating circumstances our mindsets, decisions and habits will dictate our experience of life.
There are many experiences in my life that have hurt me, challenged me and fill me with despair. But I can still decide how I show up and move forward. I rely on God’s mercy to guide me, and His grace to sustain me. But I also know I have the lead in moving my life in a positive direction.
2. Intentional living doesn’t come naturally.
All of the habits and mindsets I have cultivated for 30 years brought me to this life. It can’t be undone in a day, or week, or month.
Moving from a life where my fear and exhaustion and discomfort ruled the day was so foreign to me. I had to constantly examine what I was doing and why and look for ways to move toward the life I did want.
Intentional living might not come naturally, it doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong, it means you are changing.
4. The life I want changes and grows as I do.
As our family has grown up, and we have started to take care of ourselves in healthier ways, we make space to try new things. Each year we set new vision and goals for ourselves. They often will echo the years past but they do evolve and grow with us.
My values and visions and goals shift as I go along. The work I wanted to do with my life is different now, five years later. The things I need to focus on in my parenting or marriage have shifted years later.
Having a flexible approach is really important to intentional living.
5. Intentional living is a daily practice
When I first started out, the daily practice of Intentional Living included planning out my day and activities and how I was going to feed my people. As the routine has been grooved into our lives, there is room to try new things and what remains is that constant work of deciding how I want to show up each day.
Many people call this ‘setting your intentions’. For me, as a mom and wife, it is not putting my stresses onto my family and working through my feelings and thoughts in healthier ways.
Intentional Living is something you practice every day until it becomes a habit. Then you move onto the next thing you want to work on, practice it, make it a habit.
Intentional Living isn’t just about goals and big colourful ideas and being a #bossbabe – It is the long and daily grind of showing up, staying positive and being responsible with your emotional life.
6. Living on purpose is empowering
This is why I still do it. This is why it is important to me.
The woman, mom and wife I was five years ago is tired shadow of who I am now. Not that I am a sparkling unicorn who has life figured out (I think that title is reserved for Beyonce). No, I am still a mom in her sweats who gets frustrated that her husband ate all the cheese and just needs a minute away from her kids around 4:45pm every day. But now, I feel more like myself than ever, probably because I am living a life that is more inline with my personal values and vision.
Through this process, I have gotten to know myself. The self that was buried under all the exhaustion, the overwhelm, and the resentment.
I feel lighter in my life. I feel inspired by the things I want to happen. I feel capable of taking on tough things. I feel like all the years I had done what was expected, or easy are blooming into years where I do what I desire and what grows me. It is dang empowering.
HOW TO GET STARTED LIVING ON PURPOSE
If this sounds good to you, then the first thing I would recommend is taking stock of what is most important to you.
What are your values? What are your priorities? What is your vision?
You can use some resources I have put together to help you:
THE LIFE ON PURPOSE WORKBOOK
And if you want to really dig into intentional living, check out the workbook here. It is a 100 pages to guide you through setting your values, your vision for each area of your life and putting it all together into a plan that is doable for your life. It includes exercises I use in Life Coaching and the approach I have learned over the past five years.
And if you are really ready to GET LIVING YOUR LIFE ON PURPOSE, then get yourself a life coach.
Whether it is me or another coach, having a formal guide to walk you through this process makes a world of difference. I have walked myself and many women through this process to a place where they are showing up right where they and building a life they want to live on purpose. You can read what my clients have to say right here.