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Intentional Life Design and the "Three P's"

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months in a process I’ve now come to call “Intentional Life Design.” (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this phrase up, but it’s an apt one, so phrase, I claim you!).This is when I turn my focus on each part of my daily living: what I work on everyday (and when), how and when to encourage creative and relaxation and exercise time during the day, how our parenting or our household routines flow, how we organize our living space, how we nurture our marriage, how and when I interact with family and friends. The goal is to try to make sure that the ways each of these things occurs has been intentionally designed to be that way, rather than something we just put up with by default. I keep finding more and more areas in which Intentional Life Design applies, and trying to put my focus there.

Life in general is all about choice and intention right now--two things that sound easy (and desirable), but sometimes aren’t. I’m in the process of paring away all (or at least most) of the things in my life that aren’t necessary or desirable, so that I can reveal the true shape of what my ideal life will be (just like in the story of Michelangelo and the David sculpture--he said that in order to create it, he just chipped away all the parts of the marble block that weren’t David). I’m choosing to slow down, to take on less and do fewer things at once, but do each of them more consciously and intentionally. (This is a big step and a hard thing for a champion multi-tasker and gold medalist in the “Suck-it-up Olympics” to stick with!) I’m trying to be less driven by deadlines and by outside expectations, and more guided by my own inner rhythms and enthusiasms. Some days it feels great, like “woo-hoo, I’m on vacation!” kind of great, but some days it feels scary and anxiety-provoking, like “oh god what will people think of me if I do/don’t do that and how am I going to make a living, anyway?” Some days it feels like all I do is seesaw back and forth between both extremes, whacking hard into the ground on one side before breathlessly careening back up in the air towards the other, over and over.

I’ve had a post-it stuck to the dashboard of my car for a few months now that says:




This is a mini-mantra for me, a condensed version of several lessons all in one place.  On the one hand, I consider each word separately. I do need to remember that life is all about practice, about having a practice, about working on something until you get better at it. And I do need reminding that certain things are priorities, and certain things are not, and that priorities are necessarily fluid but that I’m the one who gets to determine them. (That’s not easy either, being the kind of person who is used to letting others’ priorities have greater weight than my own.) And I do need to pause, to stop and consider and intentionally choose what to do next.

On the other hand, I also consider these three words/concepts as a full sentence: I need to practice prioritizing pausing. So much of my life up until now has been about movement: rushing hither and yon, stretching and growing and working and learning. But quiet’s got something to say to me too, right now, much as I sometimes resist it. I need to acknowledge that my life is defined just as much by the quiet times as by the full times, just like a song is defined as much by the rests as by the notes of music. Sure, there’s a lot to admire about a well-executed sound or visual or action, but what’s harder is to notice and appreciate (and cultivate) the pause that proceeds and succeeds it. It has to be done intentionally. And that’s hard. So I have to prioritize it and practice it.

Jeff Young on April 12, 2011

Transformation is beautiful

It's beautiful to see you move through this transformation. Keep practicing! It's a priority. assets/smilies/wink.gif
Julia on April 13, 2011

Transformation takes practice

Oh I'll practice, don't worry. Though I also will be pausing along the way for naps and rose-smelling and playing games.
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