| Madison M., 19, Texas | A glimpse into the start of my morning routine during my high school years:
5:30 am: *buzzzzz!*
Me: *internally groans*
I’d venture to say many of us have a similar routine, one that’s akin to hearing that alarm clock go off, groaning a little bit, hitting the snooze button once or twice, and then finally pulling ourselves up for what will surely be a long and tiresome day.
At least, that’s how it always started for me.
I began those first 10 seconds after my alarm went off with eyes that were slow to open, but a mind that was very quick to start its internal moan about having to get up and face whatever the day would hold. Within those first 10 seconds, I was already thinking about how much I didn’t want to be awake, and how much I didn’t want to face the long list of tasks I had ahead of myself. Essentially, within those first 10 seconds, my subconscious had already established that the day was going to be a drag — monotonous and tiresome.
As I grew in years, and perhaps a little in wisdom as well, I realized that though it’s okay to let yourself have a bad day when you need it, there may also be benefit from a slight change in mindset.
What if I made it a goal to spend those first 10 seconds, hard as it might be at first, to spend time thinking of the day’s possibilities.
Because that’s what life is isn’t it? Or at least it’s supposed to be.
One. endless. possibility.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the routine of everyday life or the frustration of going through the same motions as the day before. And while it’s often important to have that routine, there’s something else that’s important too.
Living intentionally doesn’t necessarily mean living a life of spontaneity and throwing structure to the wind. What it does mean, is that everything you do, you do on purpose. Spend those first 10 seconds of your day (or longer if you want!) , thinking about a few things that you can do on purpose.
Here’s a few ideas of things you can do on purpose to help you live a more intentional life:
Make Your Bed
I went to a summer camp when I was a teenager, and the camp director asked us to make our bed every morning. He said that one day, we’d be thankful for the habit.
I thought about that statement over the years, and always wondered why I should be grateful for the habit of making my bed, other than that it makes my room look cleaner. One day I finally realized- making your bed can be your first intentional choice of the day. Choose to get up and make your bed, and you’ll have set a precedent for yourself to continue to make good, intentional choices for the rest of the day.
Create an Ideal Day
The best laid plans…usually are not achieved without some kind of system. Even if you “plan” to live more intentionally tomorrow, how will you do it?
Spend time the night before thinking about what is important to you, (better yet, write it down!), so that when tomorrow comes, you’ll already have your plan in motion. What does your ideal day look like? Life is made up of thousands of individual days, so create the kind of day that you want to make a living out of.
While we might want to do many things in a day, there are only so many hours. While planning out your day, think about the things that are most important to you. What will make you feel satisfied and full when the end of the day comes? Spend time intentionally picking a few of those things that you really want to put the most of your energy into.
Practice Being Confident
Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the decision-making process. What if this doesn’t turn out how I think it will? What if my other option is better? While it’s important to weigh out our options, eventually, we have to put one foot forward and be confident in our ability to choose for ourselves. It may not always turn out the way we planned, but as we strive to do what we believe to be good, things will usually end up okay. Don’t let opportunities pass you by because you were too afraid to put yourself out there.
Think About Your Words
Just as we are intentional with our actions, so should we be with our words. It can be all too easy to let something slip out, and the five seconds you take to say a few unkind words are, unintended or not, words you can never take back. It never hurts to pause for those five seconds instead, and think if you really want to say what’s running through your mind.
Counsel With the Lord
As we spend time reading our scriptures, communicating with Heavenly Father through prayer, and going to church, our souls will be filled with greater purpose. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so amazing because it helps us understand where we came from, why we’re here, and where we’re going. When we strive to understand these things, we’ll come to know the importance of our life here on earth, and our role in the greater scheme of things. With that in mind, there comes a greater desire to live each day the best we can and take advantage of the gift of life we’ve been given.
When we choose to take advantage of the gift we’ve been given in life- the ability to make conscious choices- our lives may become more full. Don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you. Own your ability to choose for yourself and be confident in the fact that each choice can take you one step closer to where you want to go. But in order to get there, you’ve got to want it, you’ve got to choose it, and you’ve got to do it intentionally. The arrival will feel all the sweeter because you’ll know it wasn’t an accident. It was on purpose.