Wow, I realized the other day that we are already half way through the year. It really is true that the days are long but the years are short!
I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my goal to live with more intention in 2016, and to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.
Last time I reflected on my progress back in February, I realized I had some major stumbling blocks to living with more intention. For example, I wanted to read a few books that might help, yet I really struggled to find a way to fit reading into my daily schedule!
So here is my progress (or lack thereof) in some areas of my life in which I’m attempting to be more intentional.
Intentional with my time
As I mentioned, making time for reading has been a big struggle for me. I have finally found a time and place to read and have finished four books since I last posted! I’ve been reading after I put our daughter to bed for about 30 minutes about 4 or 5 nights each week. I mostly read in bed or on the couch, and I’m SO GLAD I’ve worked this habit back into my life! More on what I’ve been reading later.
I’m still using my planner every week and it has helped me be more effective when I get a chance to work at my computer. I put everything in it from paying bills, to phone calls I need to make, to stuff I want work on for the blog.
I realized just how dependent I am on my planner when I was without it for a week or so when we were remodeling our house and traveling. I let something minor slip (forgot to cancel a trial membership and was out $4.95 – oops) and that never would have happened with my planner around!
My attempt to use a bullet journal to keep track of lists, ideas and important info has had mixed results. While the “bullet” aspect has fizzled, I have been keeping a small notebook of all my important information and ideas. And wow, has it saved my butt more than a few times. It is incredibly helpful to have all my important info in one place, such as travel planning info, to-do lists, paint colors, etc. Maybe I’ll focus on the art of bullet journaling in the second half of the year.
I have abandoned the idea of setting up a housework/cleaning schedule for now. I might come back to it to be more efficient with cleaning and hopefully have a cleaner house, but it has taken a back seat to other goals for the time being.
Intentional with our finances
As part of trying to be more intentional with our expenses, I experimented with a “No Spend” month back in February. While I certainly learned a lot immediately, there were some unexpected consequences of the No Spend experiment in the months that followed.
While I plan to do a full post on this soon, here’s a summary: I’ve noticed that since February I’ve been coming in under budget each month and that I was overall making fewer purchases. The little envelope on which I keep track of my spending was looking less crowded.
I shared a few months ago that I decided I wasn’t going to buy any new clothes in 2016. Guess what? I’m still going strong! I resisted the urge to peruse the 70% off rack in Target the other day, reminding myself that I’d rather get high-quality secondhand clothes than lower-quality new ones.
I’ve also had some recent success with finding secondhand items for our home. I’ve been wanting a CD player for the playroom for a LONG time, but I didn’t want to buy a crappy one for $30 on Amazon. I finally found a really nice one at Goodwill for $2.99 a few weeks back… and it even takes microphones for karaoke!
After our recent remodel we were in need of some side tables and rugs. I cleaned up two old rugs that we haven’t used in years and they look great now. I scored three side tables on Craigslist for $10 the other day and gave one of them to our friend Mark. He generously gave me a rug for our new playroom in return! So I redecorated with three rugs and two side tables for $10 total. My little frugal heart was bursting. 🙂
The major remodel we just completed on our house has brought with it some financial challenges. We unexpectedly had to do some major foundation repair and electrical work, sending us over budget. Then we went over budget even more by having to hire extra help to finish the project in time.
So we are making a plan for how to bounce back from this setback and deal with the results of going way over budget. We are trying to not get discouraged. I plan on writing a post soon highlighting our plan, which basically involves handling the debt wisely and making extra money to pay it off and refill our now empty savings account!
Intentional with my relationships
This year I have been focusing on being more present with my daughter. I am so lucky to spend the majority of my day with her, but I noticed that I was often distracted and trying to multitask when I was with her.
I looked to the book Hands Free Mama for advice on living a more connected and less distracted life. While it was definitely moving and heartfelt, I didn’t feel like I was getting much practical advice. So when I was about half way through, I abandoned it in favor of starting a few other books. There used to be a time when I finished every book I started, but I decided years ago that there’s really nothing wrong with letting a book go – even if only for the time being.
Instead I decided to pick up Rising Strong by Brene Brown, and I’m so glad I did. This book and Daring Greatly (also by Dr. Brown) have spoken to me and challenged me more than any books I’ve read in years. They basically address how vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen – is a necessity for finding more connection, love and joy in life.
I am still struggling to be more present and connected with my daughter. But I now I realize that just by challenging myself in this area, I am living with more courage and vulnerability than before, and that is huge. I will stumble, and I will have better days than others, but I am “in the arena” and giving it my all.
This perspective has helped me give myself a break when I’m having a distracted day. I feel less guilty when I don’t want to play a certain way with her (one can only pretend to take Barbie to the movies so many times) and I can focus on what I always enjoy doing with her – such as reading books, creating art, and tending to the chickens.
Dr. Brown’s work has also challenged me to show up, be vulnerable, and try to ask for what I want in my relationship with my husband. This is all really hard for me! Trying to be more intentional in my relationships has turned out to be my biggest challenge this year. But these relationships are the most important things in my life, so they are worth the work.
I am currently reading a few other books related to my intentional living goals. They are The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and The Entitlement Trap by Richard and Linda Eyre.
I hope to finish them all in the next month or so and put some ideas to work in my life. I’ve started listening to Gretch Rubin’s “Happier” podcast as well, and I really like her perspective and practical advice for generally being happier. I realize I am a few years behind the curve, but I can’t wait to “KonMari” my house later this summer!
In addition to the next steps I’ve already mentioned in this post, I am interested in exploring how a gratitude practice can help me live with more intention.
So, there you have it – what’s working, what isn’t, and what’s next in my year of intentional living. How has your year been going overall? Are you making any progress (or not!) towards any goals? Please chime in and leave a comment below!