Keep Your Eye On Your Why

img_0544“Keep your eye on your why.” It was the second-to-last step in a set of helpful tidbits for people looking to minimize, but it was the one that stuck with me the most. Maybe because it rhymed, so I found it catchy. Maybe because it’s something I struggle with.

In pursuing my goals, both big and small, I sometimes forget what motivated me to start in the first place. And if I’m not careful, this lack of self-awareness will allow me to give up. I wonder if something is even worth my time and effort if I don’t remember why I started doing it in the first place.

Probably not.

If I want to stay motivated enough to see something through to the end, I have to remember why I’m doing it. I have to buy into the idea hook, line, and sinker. I can’t be one foot in and one foot out. It’s go big or go home, baby.

In other words, I need to keep my eye on my “why.”

Why am I pursuing the things that I’m pursuing?

Why am I saying “no” to some things and “yes” to others?

I can’t do it all. I have to say “yes” to some things and “no” to others in order to maintain some shred of my sanity and make sure I get some sleep. There are many, many things I could choose to pour my time and energy into, but only so many of them are good uses of those limited resources. Only a small fraction of them bring me joy and benefit the world around me.

And those are the things I want to pursue. That’s how I make my decisions. I ask what’s most important to me, what I really want to define my life.

I want to be known for my love.

And, considering that, I think about how to make decisions that reflect my purpose. I choose things that support that goal and align with my personality and gifts. In order to make the most of my time and efforts, it only seems logical to choose things I’m interested in, have an aptitude for, and things that will support my larger ambitions. I don’t want to waste my time doing things I’m going to give up on for lack of interest, get burned out doing because I wasn’t the right fit, or doing things that keep me stagnant.

Having the right motivation is key. If we don’t know why we’re getting up early to workout, we’re more likely to hit the snooze button instead of throwing off the covers and breaking a sweat. If we forget why we’re pinching pennies and budgeting, we’ll probably be less committed and find ourselves still impulse buying.

We need to remember why we do what we do.

I’ve found that having reminders around me is extremely necessary to living a life of purpose. I painted a sign over the summer with the word “beloved” on it that serves as a reminder in my house. I also have a beautiful necklace from my friend’s company She of Noble Character that says “beloved” on it and allows me to walk around with a constant reminder of who I am and how I’m called to live.

Remembering that I am loved and am called to be love in the world is my why. And I’m trying really hard to keep my eye on it.

 

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Do you have a big, overarching goal for your life that you filter decisions through? How do you remind yourself what your purpose is? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Further reading:

A Guide to Let Go of Your Perfectly Good Things by Zoë Kim, featured on Becoming Minimalist

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Baby Steps to A Better You

What is it about adulthood that makes it shameful to take baby steps? Why do we feel the need to try to conquer things in leaps and bounds?

I personally don’t think trying to tackle an obstacle or reach a goal with giant-sized steps works.

Large tasks are daunting. Big obstacles are frightening. Making significant changes is difficult.

But breaking tasks and goals down into smaller steps can help us better reach them. It makes them more manageable, more attainable. And doesn’t everyone want that?

It’s easy to jump into something new and quickly get carried away with wanting to make dozens of changes right off the bat. But that type of change is hard to sustain. With so many plates spinning at once, we’re likely to not be able to keep any of them going because our focus is too divided.

Instead, if we focus on tackling one area at a time, we can take smaller steps toward our larger goal.

I want to suggest some small steps you (and I) can take today toward becoming better versions of ourselves. In the post-New Year’s season, many people give up on unrealistic resolutions, but these are far more attainable!

  1. Sleep more. Many of us don’t get enough sleep. Some people need more than others, but chances are we all could use more. Try adding just an extra 30 minutes.
  2. Eat more veggies. Whatever else you fill your plate up with is up to you. Just add some veggies. Put some on top of your pizza, sandwich, or pasta. Have a side salad. Throw some in your scrambled eggs or omelet.
  3. Move more. Organized exercise and sports are great, but some people’s schedules don’t allow much time for them. If trying to rearrange everything on your calendar is too daunting, simply try to move more in your everyday life. Get up from your desk every hour for a little break (and come back more refreshed!), walk around during a TV commercial, take the stairs, or park farther away from the grocery store.
  4. Relax. I’m not talking about the sit-on-the-couch-all-day kind of laziness. I’m talking about taking a break from the helter-skelter chaos of everyday life just to breathe for a minute.
  5. Put the phone down. Talk to people face-to-face without interruptions. Take a screen break for an hour or two. Give the people and the world around you your full attention.
  6. Drink more water. Everything is especially dry in the winter– the air, our hair, and our skin are just a few. Drink some water with every meal and throughout the day as you get thirsty. I find that having a water bottle on hand ensures that I keep hydrated throughout the day without having to worry about it.
  7. Watch your spending. Now, I’d love to tell you all to create a budget, get out of debt, and set yourselves up for a solid financial future, but we’re talking baby steps here. Know where you tend to spend the most money and where you might be able to reign it in a little.
  8. Read more. Newspapers, magazine articles, biographies, novels, ebooks, audiobooks… Reading can be very relaxing, and since we’re learning that the light from electronic devices can disrupt our sleep, it can be a good before-bed activity to help us wind down. Novels are good for immersing yourself in a story other than your own, and nonfiction books are good for learning new things.
  9. Smile. Find joy. Focus on the happy. Laugh. Be grateful. It’s really hard to be grumpy when you’re giving thanks for your blessings. And it has a positive impact on those around you, so it’s a win-win!
  10. Declutter. Just a little bit. Start small. One closet. One room. One problem area.
  11. Use fewer disposable items. Swap out cloth napkins for paper ones or washable dish rags for paper towels. Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of sandwich baggies. Bring your own tote bags to the grocery store.
  12. Do something for someone else. Volunteer for a charity, donate to a non-profit, bring a meal to a family with a new baby or sick family member, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, or even just hold a door open.

 

What do you think of my baby steps? Are there any you would add? Are there some you’re going to try? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

One Word

Are you the kind of person who has a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions? Or do you subscribe to the one-word philosophy? Or do you eschew all new-year resolutions altogether?

Last year I picked one word to meditate on: rest. I tried to incorporate it into the regular rhythms of my life. Let me tell you, it was hard. I’m still not very good at it. But I’m much better at thinking about how to integrate it into my life and recognizing my need for it. That’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?

I’ve been thinking for a while about what my word for 2017 should be. I think that’s a better way for me to move forward instead of setting a dozen goals that I’ll likely forget about or give up on shortly after the new year begins.

In thinking about what words I want to describe me and my life, I’ve realized that what I really want to be known for is love. I want it to emanate from me and be painfully obvious in how I live my life.

I read a post by Jen Hatmaker a while back that really stuck with me (despite the fact that I can’t seem to track it down now). It was kind of a play on words to begin with (hello! already something I love!), starting with the word beloved. It was punctuated, broken up in a way that intrigued me right from the get-go. Jen broke it down into a few different concepts that really hit home with me.

  1. Beloved. It’s who we are.
  2. Be love. It’s what we’re called to do.
  3. Be loved. It’s how we’re related to by those closest to us.

That’s what I want to remember. That’s how I want to live. It’s all too easy to forget who we are in the chaos of daily life, losing our perspective and misplacing our priorities. This year, I want to remember who I am and what my purpose is no matter what curveballs life throws me.

I got a necklace from my parents for my birthday that has the same message on it. It’s from my friend Cambria’s new business, She of Noble Character, and I adore it! It’s so img_1107cute, and it’s truly a great reminder that I am beloved and that I am to be love, called to live like love to the world around me.

So that’s my word for 2017. Beloved. I want to remember each day that I am beloved by the Creator of the universe, my Heavenly Father, the King of Kings, the One who wins in the end. And I want to be reminded that it’s my purpose in life to live like love, to be love.

 

Did you choose a word for 2017? I’d love to hear what it is and why you chose it!

 

 

Further reading:

Choosing Your Word for 2017 – Part 1 by Danielle Allen, One Foot Coaching

Choosing Your Word for 2017 – Part 2 by Danielle Allen, One Foot Coaching

24 Things

In celebration of my twenty-fourth birthday, I thought I would strive for twenty-four things in the coming year. That sounds like an awful lot, even to me. Some of these things are purely for fun, while others are more serious.

  1. Complain less. I would like to think I could strive for not complaining at all, but I think I’d better start by aiming for less and work toward not complaining at all.
  2. Slow down. I want to really enjoy life, taking time to cherish lazy Saturdays, Sundays spent with friends and family, leisurely walks, good books, good food, and good conversation without feeling the pressure to move on too quickly to items on my to-do list or the next thing on my calendar.
  3. Embrace healthier snacking habits. I have a hard time not eating large quantities of snack-type foods, especially when they’re sitting out in front of me, and I eat them beyond the point of getting full. I’m working on combating this problem, but I know it’s going to take some work.
  4. Seek God’s overwhelming presence. I know He’s with me all the time, but I tend to neglect Him until I have something to lift up in prayer or until I encounter some sort of structured time with Him (my daily quiet time, church gatherings, community gatherings, etc.). I want to be more aware of His presence and provision as I walk through every moment of my life.
  5. Be still. I run around from one thing to the next, trying frantically to keep all the plates spinning, when I really need to slow down and let God be God. I spend too much time telling God what I want, asking for things left and right, instead of listening to Him.
  6. Complete a bucket list I’m creating with some of my friends. We found one online that had some really good suggestions, and we think it’s going to be a fun way to do some different things together. I want to make sure we follow through on doing those things, instead of forgetting about it after a week or two.
  7. Be more intentional with supporting nonprofits. I want to be more willing to donate to organizations that do good in the world, remembering that everything I’ve been blessed with is God’s, not mine, to be used in service to Him and others.
  8. Plan events farther in advance. I was good about that for a while, working on event coordination with my church. But I forgot about the planning for a while, and the events all caught up to me, leaving me frustrated and stressed with trying to plan things on a tighter schedule. Things go much more smoothly when I leave myself enough time to think through all the details.
  9. Donate my hair. I’ve been thinking about cutting it for a while, but this year, I’m actually going to take the leap and do it!
  10. Read Les Miserables. I bought a hardcover copy of this book a while ago, and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf, practically staring me down, ever since. I want this to be the year in which I finally crack it open.
  11. Watch the Star Wars movies. Don’t hate me; I haven’t actually watched them. I’ve seen snippets, but haven’t intentionally sat down to watch them. And I think I should change that if I want my friends to continue to speak to me. : )
  12. Be more generous. I’ve seen lately how much joy I can find in giving gifts (of both time and money) to my friends and family, especially when I put thought into what I’m giving them. I naturally am very frugal, but it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. This site has some good ideas about how to be generous when you don’t have much, and I want to put some of them into practice this year.
  13. Develop my photography skills. I am not good at taking pictures. I’ve tried blaming it on the technology, and hope that getting a new phone might help, but I think it’s ultimately going to take me working on figuring out how to achieve higher-quality pictures through a process of trial and error.
  14. Go somewhere I’ve never been. My friends and I are deferring our Europe trip for another year so we can save for it with less stress, so now the prospect of traveling is being revisited as we discuss what short, local trip we might want to make this year while we plan our big adventure.
  15. Spend more time with my sister. We do live together, but our schedules don’t actually line up all too well. We’re close in age, and have been getting along better in recent years than we did most of the time growing up, but I want to do better than that. I want to be able to say more than “we get along most of the time.” I want to foster a friendship, since we’re kind of stuck with each other. : )
  16. Improve my blog readership. I’m not entirely sure how to do this, but I’d like to see if I can’t take steps toward it this year.
  17. Be thankful. This will assist in completing my goal of complaining less, since when I’m focused on what I have to be grateful for, I’m not thinking about things that aren’t going my way. But I want to express my gratitude, to both God and others. I am so abundantly blessed, and I want to appreciate what I have while I have it.
  18. Keep in touch with long-distance friends. My college roommates are spread out, and I was good about visiting them and messaging them for the first couple years after I graduated, but I’ve fallen out of that habit this year. Those girls mean a great deal to me, and I want to show them I cherish their friendship by putting more effort into communicating with them and staying involved in their lives.
  19. Make a headboard for my bed. I think it would make me feel more like an adult if my bed had a headboard, and my sister and a friend of hers have graciously offered to help me with the project.
  20. Eat more seasonally and locally. This will likely involve paying more attention to which items at the store are in season to ensure they’re at their peak, making more trips to the farmer’s market in the summer, and possibly dipping my toes into some small form of container gardening in our little apartment.
  21. Develop my friendships with my cousins. I’ve come to see recently just how lovely, kind, intelligent, and sweet these women are. My eyes have truly been opened to see them not just as relatives that were my childhood playmates, but grown women who are well-spoken on matters of the heart and faith, who have valuable opinions that I delight in seeking, who understand my penchant for all things Disney and will rejoice with me in pursuing them relentlessly, and who will see me through thick and thin as our lives progress and become ever more complicated.
  22. Celebrate the Christmas season thoroughly. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and this next month and a half are already looking incredibly busy, but I want to make the time to cherish this special time with friends and family, delighting in the traditions of the season and maybe establishing some new ones. Some of these ideas look really fun!
  23. Relax and allow myself to be more flexible. I tend to be too tightly-wound, too focused on how I planned for things to go, to allow for things to change without them affecting me. I want to be less easily frustrated, knowing that plans change, and it’s okay to not have everything planned out, as long as at the end of the day, I get to spend time doing what I love with the people I love.
  24. Purposefully simplify. I need to do less. I want to be fully invested in things that I’m passionate about, which might mean pulling back from other things. I want to continually ask myself whether the things I’m spending my time, money, and energy on are things that align with my purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of loving Him and loving others. I need to not fill my life with so many insignificant things that I don’t leave room for Him to move, and that’s going to require revisiting my passions, skills, goals, and the calling He has placed upon my heart to be His ambassador in this crazy world.

Fall

Pumpkin spice tea, cozy scarf, jeans weather, fall colors, what more could a girl ask for?

Pumpkin spice tea, cozy scarf, jeans weather, fall colors, what more could a girl ask for?

Fall. It’s a time of new beginnings as kids head back to school after summer break. It still stands out to me as a turning point, even though I’m no longer numbered among those who are returning to their backpacks and pencils, school buses and cafeteria lines. I think I will always consider this time of year to be one of new starts, even if I’m not moving on to another year of school. I’ve left behind the days of shopping for school supplies and new school clothes, but I’ve hung onto the feeling of wanting to begin again.

I adore fall—the beautiful, rich colors, the warm drinks, the leaves crunching beneath my boots, cozy sweaters and scarves—I love it all. Okay, I may resent the colder weather a little bit, but bonfires and hayrides and trips to the apple orchard make it well worth it. And the fact that the cooler temperatures come around whether I want them to or not reminds me that I’m not in control, that I have to choose to make the most of what I’m given and be grateful for each season (of the year and of life) as it comes, because no matter how endless it seems, it won’t last long.

Life would seem too monotonous and mundane without having anything to strive for, without any signposts to break up the year and remind us to set a new round of goals and ambitions. Many people think of resolutions as only an annual event, a New Year’s tradition. But why limit our reflections upon the past year and hopes for the next one to a single occurrence every twelve months? As the leaves begin to change color and the air grows crisper, I find myself considering once again what kinds of change and growth, what new starts, are needed in my life.

I am grateful for this season and the way it reminds me each year that I can have the opportunity to start again, to turn over a new leaf, to begin a new chapter. I choose to continually challenge myself, not with the mentality of never being good enough, but knowing that there is always some room for improvement in becoming the best version of myself.

As I break out my jacket and boots, I’m reminded once again that this season is a fleeting one– it seems it’s halfway gone almost as soon as I realize it began. All too soon, frost will be forming on the grass and stores will be filled with Christmas music, luring people into the mistaken notion that they need more stuff in their lives to be happy. Instead of falling prey to that way of thinking, I will pause to reflect upon everything I am already blessed with, knowing it’s more than enough. I’m choosing to take this opportunity to recognize the brevity of fall and life as a whole, to see the need to cherish every moment, knowing each one is precious.

As the hours of daylight grow shorter, my time becomes an even more valuable commodity to me. But in preparation for the holiday season that will all too quickly be upon us, I will choose to slow down and savor the sights, sounds, and smells of fall while it’s here, and I encourage you to do the same. May this be a time filled with the aroma of apple and cinnamon, the crunching of leaves and crackling of fires, and the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows of fall foliage as you take a moment to ponder the greatness of life in all its changing seasons.