How To Be Intentional With Your Life
Being intentional is hard. It’s easy to coast through life day after day and do the same thing over and over again and accept that empty, unfulfilling feeling.
Days, weeks, months, even years can go by in what feels like a blink of an eye. I constantly hear this when people say life moves by fast. I would argue that life only moves fast when you stop growing and start coasting through all those repetitive tasks in life.
There have been times in my life when I have not been intentional about my content consumption. I would open whatever app was on my phone and give in to the algorithm.
This is especially hard for me in football season when I open YouTube. 90% of the content that pops up on my homepage is something to do with the NFL season. I see some clickbait headlines and decide to click them anyway. “It’s only 5 minutes, I tell myself.”
Almost all the talk content on there is nonsense anyway. Usually, those “analysts” offer nothing insightful and usually stir up controversy. At this point, it seems ESPN has rebranded itself as a sports version of TMZ. I will say, it can be entertaining.
My intention is not entertainment, it’s education. What do I want to get better at? What do I want to improve on?
I would suggest that you do the same when looking for content. Have you listened to the same podcasts or videos for a few years? It may be time to change it up. Start with writing your goals out and what you want to accomplish. I’m not saying that you need to go super niche with it. Start listening to podcasts or audiobooks that are in the general category that pertains to your goals.
“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.” ― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Multitasking might be the most counterproductive thing affecting our workforce today. It is because it’s so tempting. It makes you think you can do two, three, or even four things at once. Instead, you get nothing of value done and waste hours of your time.
We all have felt it. When we try to read while the TV is on or surf the internet mindlessly while eating dinner. Heck, I’ve even seen a decent percentage of men text while peeing at the urinal. The urge to multitask and save a few seconds of the day is a pull that is too strong for many of us to overcome.
I’m not saying that you can't be online shop while you are watching a show on TV. What you should do is be intentional about your time and not reinforce a habit that will bleed into other areas of your life.
When You Unwind, Unwind
When you come home to relax from a long day of work and try to unwind, actually unwind.
If you come home from work and binge-watch a show and do that on repeat every day for a year but still feel stressed, you’re not unwinding. You’re looking for a distraction.
Instead of seeking a distraction, seek decompression. It’s challenging to unwind. It’s uncomfortable if you are so tangled up that you don’t know where to begin.
Unwinding doesn’t have to be as hard as you make it out to be. It can be as simple as 10 minutes to let the mind reflect on the day. The mind and body can’t be on go-go-go all the time.
I recently realized that I write better in the mornings. I asked myself, “why?”
It wasn’t that I didn’t have the energy to write. It was that I couldn’t get my thoughts aligned. Then I realized it was because I amp myself up too much during the day that my mind loses its capacity to organize thoughts towards the end of the day. Creative thinking is out the door. What was my solution to this? I started to meditate at some point during the day when I felt my mind starting to get overwhelmed. A little presence and mindfulness can go a long way if it is done on a consistent basis. I wouldn’t say that meditation in itself is the cure. It’s that meditation is a training ground for you to practice identifying those moments before any anxieties get out of control.
Being intentional with your life is hard. It’s hard to show up every day of your life. Even this morning, I had a workout this morning that I know I didn’t give it my all. It happens, and don’t beat yourself up too hard about it. The key is to know when this is happening. Do you know when you are coasting through your routine? Do you know when you are not being intentional?