Intentional Happiness

I've always been sort of a morning person. By that I simply mean that I naturally wake up early. What I wasn't doing was designing my mornings to make an impact. I was going through the motions and things were getting accomplished, but I might as well have not been present. I wasn't engaging with the kids as they ate their breakfast, instead I was cleaning up the mess that really could wait 5 more minutes until they finished. I wasn't reading and continuing to challenge myself to learn. I wasn't working out, I was chugging my coffee and immediately sitting down at my computer or rushing out the door, convinced that I was being effective by merely showing up. I was doing, but I wasn't being intentional with my time. You see, showing up isn't enough. You have to do more than just show up. Your work, your clients, your kids, your dog, etc. expect you to show up. How do you expect to make a difference by merely meeting expectations? Moreover, does your presence even matter when it is just your physical presence, not all of you? I say, no. 

Last fall, I decided to choose to make mornings a more intentional time. I was the heaviest that I had ever been in my life, lacked the self-confidence that I had once oozed, sleep deprived, and always wondering why I never felt like there was enough time in the day. It was bizzare since I felt so fulfilled in so many areas and in so many of my relationships. What I realized was that despite my attempts, my happiness had to start with me and my choices, not the joy that I found in others. So...I chose to give up coffee, which may seem ludacris to most, but was very intentional for me. I wanted to break out of the routine of needing something to get by so that I could focus more on what I was doing. And I did. By removing part of my routine, I was able to fill it with intentional action. Yes, the first week was awful. I would melt at the mere smell of a freshly roasted brew, I was probably pretty irritable, and I thought, "what a dumb idea to replace coffee with a workout!" as I pedaled the bike still half asleep. But, I was determined to find the time to be the better version of myself. So, I committed. I stopped complaining about being achy and tired from my lack of coffee. I started finding the time to be on that bike every single morning. I missed some days (hey, we're not perfect), but I worked really hard to make sure that I was creating a habit, not just a fling. For me, it wasn't about the weight or even really my self-confidence. It was about making a difference in my day. It was about choosing to do instead of dream. 

Sure, it was scary carving out an hour when I wasn't sure that an extra hour in my day even existed. A big "a-ha" moment for me was when I realized that I didn't have to spend the time 100% focused on pedaling. After all, pedaling is a pretty mindless task in and of itself. So, I found other ways to use the time. I found a way to balance carving out an hour of each day without losing it somewhere else. I often spend my rides on emails or reading a book that helps me in my work and taking notes, watching recorded webinars, making my morning calls, making lists on my phone of things I'd like to tackle that day, or even just laughing with the kids as they play Legos on the bonus room floor and I hammer out my 10 miles in the corner. It has been fascinating because I am expanding my horizons in more than just my workout. I'm reading again! A lot. I'm writing again. A lot. I'm creating again. A lot. I am finding so much uncovered wonder in this version of myself.

So how do you magically uncover an hour in your day? Well, it is a whole lot easier than it seems. In fact, we probably have hours of our weeks that exist and aren't being used effectively. We just have to look. When creating a habit, we thrive off predictability and routine. A lot of coaches may recommend creating habits by tackling the task at the same time each day. Unlike so many coaches recommend, I rarely ride the bike at the exact same time each day, I merely focus on tackling this task in the morning - before the day has the opportunity to go off the rails. Four months later and almost 15 lbs lighter, I feel on top of the world. You see, it has very little to do with the actual weight (although that part admittedly feels good too). I now find myself being an active participant in my own life. I find myself being more calculated about my time and how I choose to spend it, more present in the moments that I choose to spend a certain way, and more effective at work. I am better able to nurture my relationships and nurture my career, because I'm finally nurturing myself. 

By spending time in the morning with intention and focusing on things that make me feel good, I am able to be intentional about the rest of my day. Do you have a task or goal that has been looming for a while? An unfinished project? Try carving out some time each morning to devote to that. I think you'll be surprised at how quickly things get accomplished. 

So, what are you going to tackle tomorrow morning?

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