mindfulness

Live Less Out of Habit and More Out of Intent

Living out of intent is definitely something I’ve been struggling with lately. It’s hard when the days basically swallow you up. When you work full-time and have a family, there are all kinds of things pulling you in a million directions. Being intentional feels impossible.

I have a hard time reeling myself in and actually taking control of my day. Some days I feel like I have it all together. Others, I sit on the couch at the end of the night and wonder if I’ve actually finished anything.

I’ve found that creating a routine helps me bring more intention into my day. If I am always falling back on what is easy, I get into habits… bad habits. I asked my husband why he doesn’t change into his pjs when he gets home (something I *always* do). H said it was because he wouldn’t be motivated to do anything after work if he were in pjs. That was an embarrassing light bulb! Ha, pjs do make me feel lazy.

I thought maybe if I tried waiting before I changed, I’d be a little more productive? I’d be motivated to write more posts, or organize my social media schedule. I might even fold the laundry that’s been sitting in the basket since Sunday. It’s hard though, once you have the habit, it’s really hard to break. So I lied to myself. I said, “you can change into pjs, but don’t ignore the things you have to do.” Then tomorrow came. Aaand I change my clothes… aaand ignored what needed to be done. Shocker.

I decided to develop a system to help me get *out* of my (bad) habits and *into* my good intentions.

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Start Small

I knew I wasn’t going to go right from this pjs-daily habit to not changing at all and getting a whole bunch of things done. It needs to happen in steps. It’s like working out, right? You can’t be a couch potato for 3 months and then expect to just run 2 miles without getting sick. It’s too much too fast. So instead of creating all these crazy ambitious tasks, I decided I’d come home one day and just not change. I didn’t set any other goals for myself. I just came home, didn’t change, still sat down, still scrolled my phone, and delayed running right upstairs.

The next day, I didn’t have that nagging feeling to change immediately. I was able to walk in my house and put some things away first. Voila! I was moving toward breaking a habit! Obviously this won’t happen with every bad habit because some habits take a lot of effort to break. I mean let’s be real, this is just pjs. But it was a small step for me in the right direction.

So start small. Start with something you can alter in steps and just keep tweaking. You don’t have to turn your days upside down right away, all you have to do is recognize one thing that’s contributing to a string habitual behaviors.

Set an Intention… or Two

This is obviously a huge piece of making the change. I needed to break my habit because I wanted to do more than lounge around after work and be reactive. I wanted to be proactive. My goal was to write every night so I was publishing more posts, getting better at writing, and growing my blog. I set the intention to write for at least 30 minutes every day. If I waited until after my daughter went to bed to start, I’d get lazy and end up putting it off. Or I’d do something that made me feel like I was “preparing” for writing when I was actually just delaying.

Writing before I changed out of work clothes had to be an intention. I knew if I started something and did it for at least 10-15 minutes, I’d have a reason to go back to complete the post after my daughter went down for the night. And I’d only have 15-20 min left to complete my 30 minute goal! Starting is always hardest for me, as long as I got over that hump, I will get at least one post done every night.

I also really want to get on top of folding my laundry. I wash and dry on a consistent schedule but I definitely do not fold and put away as often as I should. Living out of a laundry basket is annoying. The next intention I set was to fold and put away the clean clothes that were sitting in my laundry basket before I changed.

Just two things that really changed my day, writing for 15 minutes and folding my laundry before I changed. Setting these small intentions might seem insignificant but it helped me become more organized and productive. And bonus , when my clothes are neatly folded and hung in the closet, I don’t have to iron them in the morning! It’s the little things.

Stay Consistent

It’s easy, for me anyway, to change for a day, or a week. But really sticking to a new routine is hard. It takes me at least 4 weeks to fully transition into a different routine. I remember reading somewhere that if you can do something for 2 weeks it will become a habit, yea that doesn’t work for me. It takes me a bit longer, or I’ll drop it just as quickly as I picked it up.

To stay on track and keep myself motivated, I need to do something for at least 4 weeks. Then the routine will start to feel like a natural part of my day. Make sure you know your own limits, don’t fool yourself into believing 2 weeks will work for you because it may not. When a habit has been broken and an intention has been set, you’ll know, be honest with yourself. Be in tune with your own feelings and don’t go by an arbitrary timeline.

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Acknowledge Your Success

Make sure you’re giving yourself recognition! And don’t worry about anyone else noticing. Don’t depend on a friend, a boss, or a spouse to notice the changes you’ve made. Be your own cheerleader and be proud of your own progress. Do this for you. Living out of intent is not about impressing anyone. It’s about creating the day you want to have, creating the life you want to live, and reaching your own goals.

Living out of habit causes us to settle. If you want to accomplish things in your life, if you have goals for yourself, you need to be disciplined. Part of being disciplined is creating routines and acknowledging behaviors that are detrimental to your success.

Reward systems work well for me because I definitely benefit from positive reinforcement. I started thinking of changing into my pjs as a reward for completing certain tasks . I also buy myself something to enjoy at the end of the week to celebrate the fact that I was getting more done! This week, it was brownies. Next week, I’m shooting for a mani/pedi because I haven’t had one in forever. I was going to schedule one anyway but I figured, why not make that my reward.

If you’re looking for some help in organizing your day and streamlining your schedule, you have to check out the Ultimate Productivity Toolkit. It’s packed with cheat sheets and planners to help you get more free time. Which is what we all want, right? More free time means more space to live with intention.

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