“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
— Annie Dillard
In a busy, fast-paced world, taking a moment and making decisions with intention is a method for making sure your choices are based on your values and goals.
There are many benefits to slowing down and truly assessing whether your day-to-day choices are helping live the life you want. It also may be difficult to untangle your personal desires from social expectations, cultural norms, or comparisons to other people.
In a culture that values material goods, where social media allows for instant comparison, and expectations may not align with your personal happiness, it is worth the time to make sure you are living according to your own values.
Living intentionally is made up of a few steps:
- See the choices: understand that your life is made up of choices that you can control.
- Decide the values: choose the values you want to live by. These values can come from religious or spiritual beliefs, health practices, personal growth, or social mores.
- Define your purpose: what is your reason for being, and for being with others?
- Set goals: think about and write down the goals that align with your values.
- Stay focused: remove distractions from your goals. This might include having device-free time, limiting time on social media, or limiting time spent in unhealthy relationships.
- Keep curious: keep learning and growing from the people and ideas around you. Seek out books, resources, lectures, and events that help foster your growth and development.
Writing Exercise: Morning Pages
Morning Pages is a concept created by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way. Designed especially for creative work, it is also a challenging and inspiring method of journaling.
The idea is to write a few pages in the first minutes you wake up, and that capturing these unfiltered thoughts allows you to access your innermost introspection and dreams. To get started, keep a journal next to your bed. In the first moments that you are awake, write:
- Memories of any dreams you’ve had
- Ten things from the previous day that you are grateful for
- Then write in a stream of consciousness without self-censorship, just a page or two
This is a type of intention-setting and meditation. Try it and see how it feels.