I read the most powerful blog post yesterday, titled On The Day I Die by John Pavlovitz. In a nutshell, John speaks about what will truly matter most to you on the day you die (which, let’s face it, we are all going to do.) But it’s the second last paragraph that really hit home for me: “Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you’ve been led to believe matters, because on the day you die, the fact is that much of it simply won’t.“
I’ve been thinking for a while that we’ve been so accustomed to hearing tips on how to multitask and squeeze every last drop of productivity out of day that we tend to hit the ground running from the moment we open our eyes. When asked how we are, we quickly reply “crazy busy and you?” – as if “busy” is something to be proud of. We spend our days as slaves to the phone, Facebook, email – because people must be able to contact us AT ALL TIMES. And then we wonder why we collapse into bed at the end of the day. Or suffer from anxiety. Or have forgotten how to play with our children.
What’s more, many of us (myself included) have become reliant on chemical “uppers” or “downers” to help us through the day. Tired? Let’s cram our bodies full of caffeine and sugar to get through the morning or afternoon slump. Anxious? Let’s take something to make us feel calmer (for me, it’s is a cappuccino and a rusk – the cure for all ills). Feeling sad/ panicky/ worried/ left out/ isolated or “peopled out”? Let’s distract ourselves from any uncomfortable feelings by having a glass of wine. Or logging onto social media. Or heading to the pantry for something to make us feel better.
Please don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely nothing wrong with wine or shortbread biscuits or Facebook or medication that supports us during challenging times. My point is more that when those things become an escape, a crutch, a means of AVOIDING what is really going on in our lives, that they become dangerous.
So back to that amazing quote above: “Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you’ve been led to believe matters, because on the day you die, the fact is that much of it simply won’t.” In other words, how are we robbing ourselves by giving so much attention to things that, at the end of the day, won’t matter?
I’ve spoken before about how starting the day right has made a massive difference to me. That the simple act of spending 5 minutes planning my day has transformed my productivity and given me some much-needed headspace. Because, as a Type A personality, I ALWAYS take on too much. I ALWAYS have so many To Do lists running through my head. And I ALWAYS give myself a hard time about everything. Those 5 minutes spent prioritising that day’s tasks on my Simpler Daily Plan means that I am forced to select what is TRULY important for that day, take everything that is running through my head and put it down on paper, and group like-with-like so that I can get things done in one go. And while this helps me be productive – my goal is not to cram as much into the day as is humanly possible – instead, it’s to get the important stuff done so that I am free to enjoy other important things later – time with family and friends, reading in the bath, browsing through Exclusive Books on my own while sipping on a cappuccino. In other words, it helps free up time for things that feed my soul. And having lived with Burnout for years, it has taken me a long time to get back to the point where I actually KNOW what feeds my soul. Which is a big deal in itself.
The bottom line is that there is one question that has transformed how I start my day, and it’s this: “What is my intention for today?”
One little question that puts everything into perspective for me.
“What is my intention for today?”
So, after I have mapped out my To Do list, I then try and figure out what my intention is for the day. How I would like it to be and what I plan to focus on. For example, today’s intention is to handle all client priorities before school pick up time so that I can take my eldest out for two hours this afternoon. She has asked for some Kayla-Mommy time, which I agreed to. So my intention is to get everything important handled, so that I can be fully present during that time with her and not be all up in my own head (which happens a lot).
My intention is also to do something fun with the girls this evening while Stephen is away. Just a 30 minute game before supper. Or a walk to the park. Or something fun, instead of running around tidying and checking emails and snapping at everybody because I AM SO TIRED.
Can you see what a difference it makes? Your intention for the day is not your To Do list. Your intention for the day is figuring out how you want it to END, and then using your To Do list to help make it happen.
It’s about prioritising the stuff that matters to YOU (not to everyone else) and being brave enough to make it happen. Set your intention at the start of each day this week, and see if it works for you. I’d love to hear how it goes!