“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
Is Anne of Green Gables right or what? I just adore this month. It is one of my favorites all year, simply because of the beauty nature gifts us outside (I live in Virginia – we have stunning Octobers) and also for the change it inspires within.
Continuing “THE PROCESS”… Sidenote: I have no idea what to term this whole thing. When I go about it in my own head and on paper I don’t really call it anything. For sheer lack of a real term I’m calling it “THE PROCESS” – plus all-caps makes everything official.
Additionally, some of you may be wondering why in the world I’m making a whole thing of something that should just be obvious and implemented without much fanfare. The thing is… I’m really stubborn. I’m also a paper person. I’m a *if I write it all down and get it out on actual paper it is for real* type of person. And I (sadly) don’t often do the things I should without kicking and screaming.
It is just my thing.
You may be one of those people who thinks “I need to be healthier” and then immediately, without much process, schedules time at the gym and, without much thought, buys better groceries next time you’re at the store. Uh huh. If this is you – I envy you. Really. When I see people on tracks of life I’d like to be on I think why can’t I do that? Why can’t I just DO THAT instead of thinking about it so much?
My husband, honest fella, puts it gently: “It’s called discipline. And you don’t have it.”
Well there ya go.
I have no discipline.
So when I’m really trying at something, I have to be all official about it and make it feel important and exciting or it just won’t ever happen.
One time in college a friend and I were discussing disciplined vs non-disciplined folk. She being the former. Me being the latter. She told me she approached her to-do list (at the time it was homework, studies, job, etc.) without emotion. She simply went down the list and got it done. I think she’s a dentist now soooo there’s that.
People like that are amazing to me.
I groan and roll my eyes and get really irritated at the things I have to do but don’t want to do. And finally I do it – usually late – and realize gee, that really didn’t take that long and wasn’t so bad. Immature, I know.
But here I am, now in my thirties, with a full grasp of my vices and an understanding that discipline is actually not easy for anybody. There are simply those that push through and those that don’t.
It took awhile (it’s still in progress) but I’m becoming a person who just pushes through it. Not without fanfare, of course.
Which brings me to the next step in THE PROCESS: Intention + Action
For every intention, write an action.
Last time, we established specific areas where we’d like to focus within our Broad Priorities. We called them Narrow Priorities. Mine are below:
BROAD PRIORITIES | narrow priorities
- FAITH: prayerfulness, Bible reading
- SELF: body, mind
- FAMILY: husband, children, pets
- HOUSEHOLD: budget, tidiness
- COMMUNITY: local service, global awareness
Another sidenote: My BFF called me out after my last post, wondering why “SELF” came before “FAMILY” in my list. (By the way, if you’re a blogger and you come from a small town you just better be prepared for transparency. Same goes if you have a large family. Both of these are true for me. Your readers may have known you since your awkward middle school years and maybe even since diapers and you ain’t getting a thing by them. This is a good thing. Accountability is everything when you’re putting yourself out there.)
So to clarify – because it is a great question – SELF comes before FAMILY here only because this list is in terms of assigning intentional actions. Basically, if I didn’t INSIST on dedicating intentional time to myself, it would never happen.
I have actually found that putting myself higher on the list creates a trickle down effect that affects the whole family in a positive way. You’ve heard “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” – well this is sort of like that. If Mama doesn’t have herself under control, it is impossible for her to positively influence her family. It is like being on a doomed airplane: you are instructed to put the mask on yourself first, then assist others. You cannot help others if you cannot breathe. I’m no good to my family when I’m broken.
Do I value myself over my family? Not in that sense. I would literally jump in front of a moving train for my husband or one of my children. No question. If I need new shoes but so does my daughter, guess who gets them? If I need my clothes washed but so does my husband, guess who’s I take care of first? I can count on one hand the times I showered the first few weeks after the baby came home. When everyone around you holds a higher value to you, time and attention gets divvied up to them first and you second, third, last. It is not easy to take the time to shower, read my Bible, or exercise when so many other things demand my time and attention throughout the day. I think I speak for most Mamas on that front.
But if I want the best of myself available for my family, I must carve out time for self maintenance. This usually requires getting up earlier, going to bed later, and being more disciplined with my time. It is not easy, but I know from experience that intentional focus on self is invaluable. It is not selfish but in fact, quite giving.
Does that make sense?
Now that we’ve got that covered let’s move on to – [Intention + Action] – the meat and potatoes of this post!
It’s time to make it happen. It’s time to put your intentions into motion and honor your priorities with the time and attention they deserve.
Each priority (intention) will be assigned an action. The action will be specific and measurable. It’s just not enough to say “I want to live better” – what EXACTLY are you going to do to achieve this? Establish the WHY behind the WHAT. The reason we’re going about this process so elementary and stating the obvious is because it’s important to know exactly why you’re implementing something and precisely how you’ll be going about it. This encourages follow through. When your WHYS are attached to your core, the WHATS matter more.
First, for each broad priority write out the why and the what.
“I want to _____ because _____.”
Then, for each narrow priority write out an action.
“I’m going to _____.”
It’s okay to sound like a first grader here. I want to eat ice cream because I like it. Keep it simple.
Here are some guidelines:
This doesn’t have to be some grand lofty philosophical blah-de-blah. Nobody is going to see this but you. Nobody is personalized t-shirts about your goals or making inspirational memes about them. Don’t say something like “REACH MY MOUNTAINTOP WITH MAJESTIC GRACE!” Don’t be ridiculous and vague. Keep it simple.
I want to lose weight because I’m fat. I mean if that’s the truth, so be it. Write it down in your own real words.
Be specific and measurable.
Instead of writing “I’m going to go to the gym” try “I’m going to workout 30 minutes 5 times a week”.
Don’t say you’re going to workout 2 hours every day if there’s simply no feasible way that can happen in your daily life.
There are probably many different actions you could choose to support your goal. For now, just choose one. When that becomes a habit, choose another. In my example below I have a few things in one spot and only one in another. You’ll be more in tune with what’s manageable for you.
Besides Community, these Broad Priorities have been on my list since the first time I did this. My priorities haven’t changed but my actions have. Some of the actions I chose to focus on, one at a time, 3 years ago are now daily habits. Give yourself a chance to actually make it work: choose one thing at a time.
BROAD PRIORITY: why behind the what
–> Narrow Priority: intentional action
- FAITH: I want to continue growing in my faith because I want to go to heaven when I die and have a meaningful Christ-centered life on earth. I will do this, in part, by staying prayerful and by reading my Bible.
- Prayerfulness: Keep a daily notebook of prayer concerns and requests and pray specifically on each one. When someone requests prayers on Facebook, write it down in the notebook and don’t comment “Praying!” or whatever until I’ve actually done so.
- Bible reading: Read the Bible every morning. This will be the FIRST thing I do when I wake up.
- SELF: I want to regain a healthy lifestyle so that I can feel comfortable with my body again and have enough energy to play with my children. I want my mind to be full of useful, meaningful thoughts and information because pointless junk serves no purpose.
- Body: Enroll in another meal plan & exercise accountability group. DRINK 8 CUPS OF WATER A DAY.
- Mind: Read meaningful material in bed at night. Finish one book this month.
- FAMILY: I want to serve my family because they are important to me and deserve my best time and attention.
- Husband: Do a better job of creating a peaceful, loving home for him to return to at night. Don’t immediately start complaining about my day when he comes through the door. Set the tone for the evening with a smile and kiss, no matter what mood I’m in.
- Children: Designate one block of time each day for child-led play. Anything else that happened that day has no merit here. Punishments are lifted, discipline and authority roles on my part are turned off. This time block is strictly child-led.
- Pets: Designate one block of time per day devoted to pet activity and maintenance. The dogs are better behaved when they receive attention and activity. All the animals are healthier when they are groomed regularly.
- HOUSEHOLD: I want to be a better steward of my household because our lives are less stressful when I’m diligently holding myself accountable and in control.
- Budget: Continue our current budget system. Sit down together and enter expenses once per week. Do not skip agreed % of monies for giving and savings categories. Keep a printout of our budget in my wallet with ledger and pencil. Manually adjust debits per transaction during errands to control unnecessary spending.
- Tidiness: Devote 30 minute time block per day for strictly cleaning using rolling list of tasks. DO NOT go to bed with a dirty kitchen.
- Local Service: Complete paperwork for a position in the county’s volunteer program. Choose one “event” to serve within the month.
- Global Awareness: Stay abreast of global issues via non-U.S. media sources so that I’m not living in a bubble. Write prayer concerns in the prayer journal and pray intentionally and specifically for a chosen cause.
And there they are in all their glory. I have notebooks and notebooks of these things from past sessions and I’m telling you from experience that writing it out helps immensely. It is so important to me to be intentional and meaningful with my time.
I must say though… as many times as I’ve done this, I’ve never done it publicly! I’m a little embarrassed to be throwing it all out there but one of my goals for this year was to “love it or leave it” with the blog. I so don’t want to leave it and as much as I love creating tutorials and creative content, right now most of my hours are filled with my children. We had a baby this year and I’m homeschooling our six year old so there’s not much extra time for the “fun” stuff in this space – just the real life stuff. That’s okay with me if it’s okay with you!
There will be more #IntentionalOctober to come next week. How are you faring? Feel free to share any goals you have for intentional time this month and we can encourage each other!