Have you ever noticed that sometimes life comes at you so fast that you feel you have no choice but to live reactively? That is, you deal with what life gives you when it gives it to you. You don’t ever have the time to plan ahead and really try to set and meet goals. Every mother performs a delicate balancing act between work, home, and family, and we all know that there are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done well. So how do you begin to live in a more purposeful, rather than a reactively indecisive way? Is it even possible in today’s world?
The term “living purposefully” sounds like something a life coach or some kind of guru would use. In fact, the very term is loaded with connotations of determination, organization, and sheer grit. When I use the term, though, I am not imbuing it with any of these meanings. Rather, I simply mean to do everything you do with a specific intention. For example, when was the last time you walked through your kitchen and grabbed a Hershey’s Kiss out of the kids’ Christmas (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter) candy, drank a soda (milk, iced tea, juice), and sampled the sauce simmering on the stove? It is entirely possible to consume 50-100 calories in this manner. That may not sound like much, but if you are like many people aiming to cut just 250 calories per day, you have just consumed 20-40% of that desired cut, most likely without even thinking about it!
Perhaps you made a resolution to exercise every day. Maybe you walk past the elliptical in your bedroom, take the shirts off of it, and think, “I really should find the time to get on that today.” Maybe you have a much loved hobby you look at longingly as you walk past it, remembering long gone days when you actually got to do it, instead of just thinking about it.
While I don’t have the magic formula to add more hours to the day, I do have a method of going through my day which has significantly reduced my feelings of guilt and indecision about my days. I call it living purposefully, but all I really mean by that is doing everything with a sense of purpose. I don’t eat without saying to myself, “I am going to eat these M&Ms. I know the peanut ones have 11 calories each, so I am going to include them in my calorie count for the day.” I exercise because I plan to exercise. I know that after I am done schooling my children and I make them lunch, I will go to my room and exercise. If I choose not to exercise on a given day, it is not because I don’t have time; it is because I have said to myself, “I am not exercising today because…(I have too much to do, I am feeling lazy, my husband is home from work, etc.)”
If my day feels like it is going to be unproductive, either because I don’t feel well or the day will be a jumble of different activities, I actively give myself permission to knit during the day (something I ordinarily don’t do until after dinner and kids’ activities are over). I don’t just slink to the couch guiltily and knit, all the while thinking that I should be cleaning/working/teaching/volunteering. I purposefully sit down to knit and then enjoy every minute of it.
There is no silver bullet method for getting everything out of a day that you want to, be it eating healthily, exercising, cleaning, working, playing, etc. By living purposefully, though, you can reduce the guilt mothers often feel when they are merely parrying life’s thrusts, rather than meeting life head-on. Give it a try in the coming year!