I’m a big fan of Jess Lively and her podcast, The Lively Show. Jess talks a lot about a values-based life, an intentional life, and I want to take a moment to reflect on how I’ve made changes in my life to be fulfilled by my decisions.
- Waking Up 30 Minutes Early
I love sleep. Not like let-me-sleep-until-noon-every-day, but more like I-want-to-wake-up-refreshed. And so I’ve spent months trying to unlock the secret to feeling that way, to not dragging myself out of the bed at 7 am, when the alarm on my phone rings, and giving myself 20 or 30 minutes to throw on clothes and rush out the door.
I tried Sleepyti.me, this app that tells you when to fall asleep based on when you want to get up. But I found the times I go to bed don’t align nicely with the times the app suggests.
It should have been easy, but it took me until last week to figure it out—get. up. early. Get up earlier. If I couldn’t go to bed at a different time, maybe all I needed to do was change my wake-up time. And then I read this blog post by Kory Woodard, and was amazed how she, and the women she links to in her post, get up so much earlier and get so much done before I even rise.
It took a few days to go from setting the alarm at 6:30 to actually rising when it went off, instead of running and sliding my screen quickly to just turn it off, but the second half of last week, I felt so much more relaxed waking up slowly, and having that half hour of solitude to read or write or whatever else I might want.
- Journaling More
I’ve been journaling since I was a kid—eight or ten years old, probably. But it’s tough for me to keep with it on any kind of regular basis. I still haven’t gone so far as to make a schedule for journaling, to commit to 10 minutes before bed each night, for instance, or the first time minutes after I wake up, but I’m learning it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
And it helps me understand what I’m feeling that day, and what goals I have for the future.
I firmly believe a joyful life comes from self-awareness, and in my mid twenties, there’s just so much to be more aware of, as I figure out what’s bringing me joy and helping me grow.
Now, I try to journal each night, or at least a few times a week, and remind myself that it doesn’t have to be two pages—sometimes, a few sentences is enough.
- Getting Ready for My Week on Sunday Nights
I think it’s hard to want to do chores on Sunday night. You’re trying to let the weekend linger as long as possible. Ironing clothes or writing a to-do list or preparing to mail a few birthday cards just isn’t the ideal way to spend the evening.
But I find it helps me feel more relaxed on Monday, when I don’t know what’s in store for my week. I start with the best intentions, what I want/need to accomplish, and hope it sticks.
I’ve always been the lay-out-my-clothes type, but now, if the dishwasher needs emptying or my lunch requires a lot of prep work, I don’t let it wait until Monday. I get it done. And then, after, I can really let myself relax.
- Using My Free Time Wisely
DC traffic sucks. It’s 20 miles from my apartment to my office, and most days, when school’s in session, I spend a little over 2 hours in the car round trip.
The other day, I turned on a podcast about turning negativity into positive thoughts, and how thoughts affect your feelings, and even though it took me 90 minutes to get home, I didn’t focus on the traffic because I was busy bettering myself.
When I worked even farther from my office, I spent a couple weeks listening to the audio version of Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Her stories relaxed me, humored me, inspired me and excited me. I felt renewed every night when I pulled into my parking space.
- Being Cognizant of My Finances
I have a couple major financial goals for the coming year. And a lot of people would rather not focus on their finances when it feels intimidating, because it’s easier to think the money will come over time, regardless of how we act.
That’s simply not true. I check in once a week, if not more, to make sure I’m working toward those goals and setting myself up for success.
Am I on track? Did I get ahead this month? Fall behind? Is there room next month to make up for it? Are all my bills scheduled?
When the bills are paid and my goals are getting closer, I can take a breath and focus on the people and the relationships around me. Money doesn’t have to prohibit me from living the life that brings me joy.
Now I want to know, how are you living a more intentional or designed life? What’s working for you? What have you tried?