How I Started Living Life on Purpose: 3 Easy Ways to Jumpstart Your Intentional Life
Last week I shared how I used to live a life in reactive mode and my decisions were driven by guilt. I never felt like I measured up to my ideal self. The following small and simple strategies have helped me shift into living a life of intention. I like to call it living life on purpose.
If you read my post last week, you might think I was beating myself up for my days of “reactive living”. Just know that I don’t look back on those days and think that I was simply walking around letting life hit me from day to day. Of course there were levels of awareness and purpose. It is where I was. I did the best I knew how with the knowledge I had. This has been my journey. These years and mistakes and learning experiences have carved me into who I am today. I’m thankful for the journey. The difference now is that I am much more intentional about how I want to DO LIFE.
So today I’m going to share three of the most effective things I’ve done to create change in my life. These are just three small, yet easy to explain actions that can create impact. Over the coming weeks I’ll share more things about my mindset shift. There are many techniques and things one can do to create improvement. These are just three that have impacted me recently.
3 Ways to Start Living Life on Purpose:
Personal Challenge Every Month
New York Times bestselling author and high performance coach Brendon Burchard, teaches the power of setting monthly goals. In order to purposefully progress, you’ve got to be intentional about making small changes. Note, the keyword here is small. And it’s easy really…
Every month he chooses one thing to focus on and to be intentional about. It’s not about accomplishing something big every 30 days, it’s just about progression. You aren’t expecting to master a skill in 30 days. Rather, you just want to get better… to improve the percentages. It could be a skill you want to challenge yourself to improve, or a new habit you want to develop. OR it could be something revolving around character. Maybe you want to focus on being more patient, or have more gratitude, or show more love. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something that makes YOU better.
Imagine what your life will be like 12 months from now if you personally challenged yourself every month! It’s pretty cool to think about!
This isn’t how I started my shift. In fact, I learned this idea just over a year after the start of my mindset shift. When I heard it, I immediately knew what I wanted to work on for my first 30 days. Prayer.
I’ve been taught to pray my entire life. And it was a habit that I’d do good at for awhile, and then I’d miss a night or two and get out of the habit again. It has been that way my entire life. When I learned about this concept, my nightly prayers were pretty solid. But it was my morning prayers that I was having a hard time with. In fact, I had been praying for help to remember to say my morning prayers! Shortly after I started praying for help I learned about this. It really was an answer to my prayers. 🙂
But anyone can say they are going to challenge themselves to improve something every month. I had to start DOING.
Tie it to an Existing Habit
I’ve been a mom for 22 years. That means I’ve been “reacting” to little children who would wake me in the wee hours of the morning, needing this that or the other. What I learned to do (FINALLY) after having my 8th baby (because at this point I was embracing the concept of intentional living) was to wake up and get myself ready for the day PRIOR to any little one woke up needing me. THAT was living intentional! Although, after years of letting my kids be my alarm, I still found it hard to remember to say my prayers first thing in the morning.
Now that I knew I was going to work on this habit for the next 30 days, I prayed and asked for help. I needed to know how to DO. A few days after praying more specifically for help, God gave me the idea to set a reminder on my phone to say my morning prayers.
At the time, my phone was the first thing I’d check before I’d even get out of bed. I had that reminder scheduled to pop up at 6am. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit OCD when it comes to notifications on my phone (I don’t like having them there, but don’t allow myself to clear them away until I’ve handled them). So, I couldn’t tap “complete” until I had actually said my morning prayer.
That was the start of the new habit. And that simple little reminder created a strong habit. I no longer need that visual reminder every morning, but I still have it. I don’t want to fall out of the habit, plus I love tapping “complete”!
If you are trying to add something new to your day, setting a reminder or an alarm is a great way to help yourself remember, but it’s not the only way. The key is to link it or tie it to an existing habit. For me, my existing habit of checking my phone each morning was the trigger that reminded me to say my morning prayers. Granted, that’s not necessarily the best habit (and it’s one that I eventually broke), but it was something I regularly did (I use that reminder app to help me remember more than just prayers actually).
- I have a friend who is already in the habit of morning exercise. She wanted to spend time each morning studying her scriptures. So at night, she’d set her workout clothes out and put her scriptures right on top of them. She then read her scriptures (new habit) before working out (existing habit).
- Need more exercise? Do squats or jumping jacks or lunges every time after you use the restroom.
- Need more gratitude? State something you’re grateful for before you eat anything. Every single time.
Determine that you’ll do your new habit either BEFORE, AFTER, or DURING your existing habit. I listen to scriptures during the drive to drop my son off at school every morning. Make sense?
Habit Tracker and The “Seinfeld Strategy”:
Last year I was in a coaching program where we learned about tracking our habits. There is power that comes from writing (by hand!) your goals down and then marking your progress. When you mark on your habit tracker that you completed something each day, you teach your subconscious mind that you are a FINISHER. It creates this “accomplishment energy” that helps keep you motivated and progressing.
Then last summer I attended the ConvertKit Craft+Commerce conference. One of the speakers was James Clear. He shared something that took this habit tracker concept one step further for me. I loved it so much, I’ve taught it to my kids as they’ve worked on developing positive habits in their lives. It’s called it the Seinfeld Strategy.
Brad Isaac, a software engineer turned hopeful comedian, started out on the comedy club circuit. One night he was in a club where Jerry Seinfeld was working. So he took that opportunity to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a new comic. Seinfeld shared a tip that is applicable not only to comedians, but to anyone looking to improve.
“Don’t break the chain.”
Here’s how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld…
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.
“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
Incorporating a habit tracker is one thing… but then committing to NOT break the chain is the biggie. Choose to never miss twice. These small little actions create powerful change.
When the focus becomes not to break the chain, it doesn’t matter what your results are. You just make it your mission to NOT break the chain on whatever it is you’re deciding to do.
These are some very basic and small little actions that I’ve been working on doing consistently. As a result I’ve created some positive changes in my life! My life hasn’t necessarily become amazingly better. I haven’t necessarily had less stress, worries, or problems because of these changes. BUT I have been able to handle them better. I am more clear about what I want. And I know I’m on the path to getting that.
What do you do to start new positive habits?
How do you live intentionally?
I’d love to hear your ideas and what has worked for you in the comments below!
I’ve been so grateful for these strategies in my life. I knew I needed to share them in a way that will encourage others to create positive change as well.
In January this Life Planner was created as a special bonus for my email subscribers. It’s purpose is to create more intention in your life through daily, weekly, monthly and annual goal and life planning. This download is filled with a ton of juicy stuff, including my habit tracker! There are also pages for you to write out yearly, monthly, and weekly goals.
I’ve been using it since the beginning of January and it has helped me get more done and stay on top of my days and weeks. I’ve been able to plan ahead better (this has NOT been a strength of mine).
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