If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year (my first year of marriage, leaving my steady job, struggling with my body image, and starting my own consulting business), it’s that every action I take should be deliberate.
Since I’ve chosen to create a life without my own source of steady income, I realized that I couldn’t wander into TJ Maxx and purchase a few items “just because” or spend an afternoon out shopping for the sake of shopping.
Each item I’ve bought since then has been met with a few questions:
– Do I need it?
– Do I really want it?
– Will I still want it in a few days/weeks/months?
– Does it have any value other than taking up space in my home?
– Is it something I’ll want to take with us when we move next year?
I’ve realized that the last two questions on that list are often the deal breakers. When I’m in Home Goods, there might be a really beautiful picture frame, but I’ve already filled every wall, table, and shelf with photos. Or I might find a set of unique wine glasses. But do I need another set? Will the glasses really enhance my entertaining abilities? Is the picture frame in my hands better than the one already on my dresser? Probably not.
While I started this change by being deliberate in my shopping trips, I’ve since applied the same rule to other areas of my life. I ask a few questions before I make a decision: Is it important? Will it still be important tomorrow, next week, or next month?
We’ve used this model with our alcohol consumption. We noticed that, as we get older, we don’t recover as easily and the next morning isn’t as “worth it” as it was in college. It doesn’t mean we don’t still enjoy our favorite wine and beer—that’s just the point. We weren’t enjoying it when we were drinking constantly. It simply became another part of the weekend routine.
On Friday night, I’d get a bottle of wine, my husband would buy craft beers, and we’d have lots of fun…until we woke up the next morning groggy, bloated, and overall not our best selves. Sometimes, we even missed out on the chance to go on a weekend morning adventure like a hike or to the beach because we couldn’t get out of bed early enough. Since we started being more deliberate, we’ve noticed that we enjoy each drink SO much more and we never feel like we’re missing out. We savor it, we remember it, and it doesn’t have that slowing-down effect on our bodies and minds.
The most important area where we’ve been adopting this philosophy is with our relationships. We’ve started to be more deliberate in our words and actions as a couple. If my husband wants to start a conversation, I should be putting my phone down in order to give him my full attention. When my little brother or sister tells me about school, I should be focusing only on their story.
I had been getting lost in the day-to-day, living on autopilot, and the time seemed to be getting away from me. Since then, I’ve done my best to make each moment have a purpose. I’ve felt more “present” in my own life—in work, with family, with friends, and even in my marriage. When each action is intentional, you’ll find that you make fewer mistakes and fewer errors in judgement. You’ll find that it’s easier to “think outside the box” when you’re being purposeful in your decision-making process. You may even find that, as you reach for your smartphone while sitting with friends, you’d rather be present than spending the moment looking at what happened five minutes ago on Instagram.