Shape Your Days Intentionally

Written By Regular Contributor, Michelle Anthony

Shape Your Days Intentionally by Michelle Anthony for #createlounge

There are things we know about ourselves, or that we’ve seen so clearly in ourselves for so long that they’ve become part of our identity.

We think of ourselves as Neat Freaks, or Clutterbugs; Risk Takers, or Rule Followers; Decision Makers, or Go-With-The-Flow-ers. And in ways we may not fully recognize, these ideas we hold about the kind of person we are start to influence the way we live, and the kinds of choices we make day after day.  

We tell ourselves we’re just not a tidy person, as those clothes we change out of at the end of the day landed rumpled on the floor, instead of folded in a drawer.

We tell ourselves we’re not the bossy type, and we take a quiet backseat as the rest of group goes back and forth with their differing opinions and tries to arrive at a group decision.

We tell ourselves we’re not great about managing our money, as we opt to go out for lunch again instead of making a meal at home.

We tell ourselves we’re not big on taking risks, as we quietly shy away from an opportunity that scares us.

None of those choices feel huge or earth-shattering, which is probably why we tend to give them relatively little thought as we make them. But it’s those everyday decisions – the ones that feel small and insignificant, like whether or not to fold and put away the jeans, or drop another $10 on lunch – that start to add up, create patterns, and ultimately shape the kinds of lives we live. Does it freak you out at all to think that you might be making those choices unintentionally, or shaping your life on autopilot? Me too.

But rather than letting a handful of quiet, limiting beliefs about ourselves shape our day-to-day, what if there was a way to infuse some purpose into those choices? What if we could find a way to chart our path forward - even in the teeniest of ways! - based on how we want our lives to feel, or what would feel deeply gratifying?

Enter: rituals.

It only occurred to me very recently that rituals could be a tool for purposefully bringing more of what fuels us into our actual lives.  And it blew my mind a little.

This idea first entered my consciousness as I was pouring over my physical copy of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map, and wrapping my head around her idea that we can construct a life that revolves not just around the Stuff and the Things we want to have/see/do/achieve, but rather the way we want to feel. When we act intentionally, our actions have the potential to create more or the feelings we crave. And once we can start to pinpoint the feelings we’re drawn to and crave more of, it becomes so much easier to intentionally do more things that help us feel that way more often, and carve out space for those feelings in our daily life. 

If our small, everyday actions are the ones that shape the kind of life we live, then rituals are a way to add some intentionality and consistency to those choices. The literal definition of a ritual can be boiled down to, “a ceremony or action performed in a customary way.” They are inherently repetitive and add a level of predictability to our daily lives, and yet unlike a habit or a routine, a ritual carries a feeling of purpose and sacredness. 

So how can we leverage the power of rituals to shape our days intentionally?

Start by pinpointing some of the core ways you want to feel – what Danielle Laporte calls your Core Desired Feelings. I’ve been going through the Desire Map process again to kick off the new year with a fresh look at my own Core Desired Feelings (a process I would highly encourage if you’ve never done so, or even if you have!), and a few of mine that keep popping up are Creative, Clarity, Centered, and Strength. 

What are some of the feelings you crave?

From there, look for opportunities in your day where you have some time and space to start incorporating consistent actions that evoke those feelings, with a degree of reverence. To me, the beginning and end of the day are both great opportunities to use a ritual to refocus on how I want to feel, but for you it might be your lunch break, your commute, or as you transition from one part of your day into another.

Personally, I decided 2017 will be the year I start making space for a few key rituals that really honor my Core Desired Feelings, that fit organically into my lifestyle. My current morning routine involves: getting up early and making myself an espresso (a quiet activity that helps me feel centered), setting up my day in my Bullet Journal (for a feeling of clarity), and 20-30 minutes of writing and/or creating something before I check email (to feel creative). I also have a ritual that helps me mindfully transition out of “work mode” and into my evening, that involves an at-home HIIT workout (which helps me feel physically strong and mentally clear - doubly whammy!). 

What are some things you can mindfully do each day that align with how you want to feel?

The thing I love most about creating rituals using this framework is that it helps me make sure my actions are aligned with the things that are meaningful to me, rather than just emulating someone else’s morning routine because we think that’s how it “should” look. When we can keep our focus on the feelings we crave, our mind starts to make space for those feelings and our actions will follow suit – and before we know it, the life we’re living will suddenly start to feel more and more like it was created just for us, by us, with a real sense of purpose.

Michelle Anthony for #createlounge

Michelle Anthony

Michelle Anthony has been called “too sensitive” her whole life, but she's come to believe our natural warmth and empathy don’t make us fragile - they make us powerful. She created to be a sanctuary for fellow sensitive people to get recentered and reconnected with themselves, so they can unapologetically own their natural softness and tap into their inner power, without sacrificing one for the other. (Oh, and side note: Liz Lemon is her spirit animal.)