Life is a constant process of change and refinement. We’re never finished individuals. We don’t tick off the last item on a list, dust our hands and declare that we’re all done, then sit back and wait for old age.
As we get older it becomes harder to look at our habits and choices and ask ourselves ‘could I be making better choices?’
Intentionality is at the core of everything we write about at Living Unplugged. Once you start making intentional choices, rather than simply reacting to societal expectation and life events you will find that you will get more satisfaction from life. An intentional life is a work in progress.
Here are seven areas where you can start asking questions and making changes. Remember, this isn’t about denial or technophobia. This is about being more intentional with your choices.
1 – Minimalism
We’ve written about why minimalism (or at least our version of it) is important to us. In summary, taking a look at the things we own and the reasons we acquire new stuff helps us to understand what real value is.
We’re not anti-stuff – nor do we live in an empty white home with no ornaments – but we try to apply some basic principles to everything we either buy or own.
- Did I need it last week?
- Will I need it next week?
- Does it add value to my life?
By reducing our fixation for the acquisition of things we don’t really need, we can really start to focus on the experiences that enrich our lives.
The Minimalists have a series of podcasts and blog articles that we’ve found to be inspiring.
This post by Joshua Becker has a lovely definition of what minimalism means to him.
And for any parents out there, we are huge advocates of reducing the amount of toys that fill our house – just as Eva writes here.
2 – Re-assess your relationship with food
Food forms a central part of every human’s life. Many of us have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with food. Some eat too much, some eat too little (or consider food as an inconvenience) and many of us rely heavily on pre-prepared food for its convenience and strong flavours.
Taking time to look at your diet, the time you spend either eating or preparing food and the feelings you have about food is a great first step to developing a healthy and rewarding relationship with eating.
When I talk about how we cook an evening meal from scratch most days (as well as making packed lunches), the response I often get is “That’s great, but who has time to do that?”
The simple fact is that you can choose how you spend your time. For us, we place a higher value on good, freshly prepared food than whatever is on TV at 7pm. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to watch TV rather than cook, but you can ask yourself what will give you greater value.
Here are some great tips for making cooking from scratch more manageable.
Where you eat makes a difference too. We try and eat meals at a table and we have a hard ‘no mobile devices’ rule while we’re eating.
At work, I make a conscious effort to eat my lunch (even if it’s a sandwich) away from my desk. So many office workers eat sitting hunched over their computers. You can’t enjoy food when you’re automatically pushing bits of a Pret sandwich into your face whilst scrolling through Facebook looking for cat pictures.
If you don’t believe me, then maybe you should read this article from Huffington Post about ‘eating al-desko‘
3 – Reduce your use of technology
Digital detox is a hot topic at the moment, and whilst it’s all too easy to jump on fads we believe that it’s a trend, not a fashion (even the Telegraph has written about ways of reducing our reliance on technology)
We’re reaching a tipping point with our technology, it surrounds us and permeates almost every aspect of our lives. What were once incredibly useful communication devices have become multifunctional computers – filled with apps designed to compete for our attention.
We are now all participants of the Attention Economy – and the producers of apps and technology are competing for our time by using techniques more often seen in the casinos of Las Vegas to create a behavioural addiction to our devices.
Technology in and of itself is not bad. We just need to learn how to put it away, to treat is as a tool and not an extension of ourselves.
These apps are really useful for helping us understand how much time we’re spending on our devices.
You could also try something simple, like buying an alarm clock
4 – Commit to moving more
Exercise can be a dirty word, but the truth is that our bodies are designed to move.
Building in some good habits to your daily routine can have profound effects. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mental health as well as reducing the risk of other illnesses.
The realisation that helped me to embrace regular exercise was this: exercise isn’t a punishment, it’s a treat.
I know what you’re thinking, running sucks. Yoga is for hippies. Gyms are boring.
The fact is, taking regular exercise can be a pain some days. There are weekends where I would rather drink wine than go for a run – but I also know that I will ALWAYS feel better after doing some exercise.
Mel has written a great blog post about fitting in exercise as a time-poor mum.
So build some good habits around movement. It’s the simplest and cheapest thing you can do that will give you the most back in terms of happiness and wellbeing.
5 – Try something that takes you out of your comfort zone
Most of the points in this post could fall into this category if you’ve never thought of doing them before.
Getting out of your comfort zone helps you deal with unexpected and stressful situations better. It can also make you more productive (comfort is the antithesis of productivity) and more creative.
Susie Moore, life coach offer this advice to help you try things that scare you
6 – Appreciate nature
Taking a walk in a forest, a park or along a beach reconnects us to the analogue world and to ourselves in ways you just can’t get elsewhere.
When we walk through nature (with our technology left behind or turned off), we are treading the same path our ancestors had for millions of years before us.
Just as with exercise, there is a wealth of evidence that shows that a woodland walk can have a restorative effect on our mental health.
Don’t take a camera or a phone with you. Really spend some time either with friends or alone, but in the physical world – uninterrupted by digital technology.
Check out this post – Seven amazing health benefits of walking in the woods
7 – JFDI
“Procrastination is the thief of time” – Edward Young
It can be overwhelming when you want to make changes. I’ve written about the strategies you can employ to avoid becoming paralysed by the enormity of change.
Everybody is different, and our reasons for delay will vary from person to person – this article provides five simple ways of addressing your own reasons.
Katy writes about how she ‘gets everything done’ on her blog – well worth a read.
Bottom line, sometimes you just have to pick a thing and Just Fucking Do It.
Because if you don’t try, don’t make a start, then you’ll never get the chance to find out what you are capable of.