Are you a daily planner? One who keeps a book of days filled with long lists of things to do, buy and get done each 24-hour cycle? Personally, I have a hard time keeping an organized planner. (I’m more of a sketchbook or journal keeper) My electronic calendar organizes my work appointments and I am guilty of penning goals and tasks down into lists on random scraps of paper that lead my personal life. It somehow feels so purposeful and triumphant to cross the tasks off at the end of the day, crumple up the lists and WHOOSH! The day is history! Let’s be honest… getting sh*t done feels good! But what is left after crossing everything off that list? Is there any accomplishment left when the “get er done” adrenaline subsides? Have I just been filling my days with long lists of doings that I ultimately want to see disappear? Is there some room on these scraps of paper to make some meaning in between the lines?
Last October in my quest for purpose, I decided that the meaning was found in the making. I literally looked under every rock I could get my hands while making a pilgrimage in the search of my personal definition of purpose. My Wild Card that month, actor, writer, and director, Doug Sadler asked me to “Define my in the moment objective”. He also asked me to “Define my life purpose or super objective”. It’s a hefty role to create and I’m not sure if I fully realized the protagonist part in that chapter but I did learn a few very important lessons. The most important thing I learned was to set intentions!
Setting intentions is very much like planning a day. Listing out the things to be done. But instead of just listing the doings, could I also list the how, why, and when I would be doing these doings (the purpose behind these things)? I tried to engage in this process last year, but realized that “setting intentions” was not an easy involuntary act for me. To be successful in this I need some practice and diligence with the effort.
Is it possible to create a habit of intentional purposeful acting and doing? Well, I’m giving it a go again and am trying Doug’s “in the moment objective” exercise in a simple day-to-day way. For the rest May’s calendar days, I will practice “on purpose mindfulness”. Instead of just speaking, acting and doing first, I will attempt to consider the how, why, and when I am doing something beforehand. And I am going to use my own “purpose on post-its” planning process to get me started. Practice along with me if you’re feeling mindful. I’ve included my instructions to myself below.Supplies needed: A weekly planner, Post it notes, or blank cards, a marker and a bit of time to think about daily purpose
1. Make list #1 of all the “doings” I would like to be more mindful about in my day. (for example: eating, engaging with strangers, walking to the mailbox, writing, talking on the phone, cleaning, waiting in line, observing, breathing, cooking, reading, conversing etc) I will have to think about what it is that I do daily. It may be a list of 23 different specific things or just a few basics I really want to focus on.
2. Make list #2 of mindful changes that I would like to add to my day. Include the how/why/when behind my doings (for example: with a smile, slowly, without judgment, in the morning, every hour, twice a day, before bed, to make someone laugh, in stillness, to release stress) With this list, I will think about how I would like to do things rather than how I currently do things.
3. Match up an action and doings from list #1 with one or more mindful change(s) from list #2.
4. Number my post-it notes with the dates of the month on the front and put the pairings on the back (for those of you planner types trying this out, just jot each pairing in your calendar) I need the visual reminder on my wall to remind me to do this. If there are more pairings than days, then do more than one in one day. If there are less pairings…practice certain pairings more than one day!
5. Follow each day and live out the “mindful mash up” game created, taking on the task that has been laid out for each day. Observe and reflect… is it all purposeful or pointless? Hopefully it will at least be fun.