Are any of these scenarios particularly relatable? You:
Buy a snack from the vending machine and are surprised to see you’ve scarfed down half of it by the time you reach your desk.
Listen to an acquaintance chat about his kid’s soccer game for 5 minutes then realize you have NO idea what you just heard him say.
Grab your cell to Google ticket prices to Paris and 20 minutes of scrolling later forget what caused you to pick up your phone in the first place?
Now obviously, these are small examples that may merely show a little slide into relaxation mode in relatively unimportant moments. But if these scenes sound robustly familiar, there’s a good chance you could use a bit more mindfulness and intention in your life.
WHAT MINDFUL AND INTENTION REALLY MEAN
Being mindful in our approach means we’re paying attention and are aware of what we’re experiencing in a given moment. Being intentional means whatever action we’re taking is on purpose with priorities in mind vs drifting through our days on autopilot.
It took a total reevaluation of my life to move away from drifting along on autopilot and toward enjoying a mindful, intention experience.
FROM FOGGY TO FOCUSED
About 10 years ago I was in a great but high pressure job and had experienced the passing of too many loved ones within a few short years. I was lacking focus and purpose, and was full of anxiety.
Fortunately, I discovered yoga and mindfulness, and threw myself into learning whatever I could about them. I began meditating on a regular basis, and soon my stress levels fell dramatically.
I felt much more in control of my reactions, and I began to take things more in stride. I started to look at my life in a more balanced way and set out to create a vision for how I wished to experience multiple aspects of it.
I started teaching at Indiana University, where I created a course called career success preparation. I developed a mindfulness-infused methodology called The Love Monday Method, and one of the activities that falls early in the process is called the Wheel of Life.
YOUR WHEEL OF LIFE
In it, we look at the eight areas of life to consider how fulfilled each is; which ones are priorities; the ideal vision of each; and how to achieve these visions in a reasonable timeframe.
The eight areas are:
Health and wellness.
Activities and vacations.
Money and belongings.
Personal growth and spirituality.
Loved ones and your inner circle.
Civic engagement, causes and volunteering.
Friends and socializing.
This exercise helps us make sure the decisions we make about one aspect of our life — such as work — allow us to enjoy the other aspects that we deem priorities.
Without thinking these things through on a deep and imaginative level, we run the risk of creating a life that is all work and no play, where we wake up at 50 with a robust career track but little else.
CRAFTING A LIFE THAT’S MINDFUL AND INTENTIONAL
Engaging in this exercise also gives us a map of intention for each piece of the pie, and we can get busy shaping the type of life we want to create both short-term and long-term.
In doing so, we are creating a life that is deliberate. The practice of mindfulness helps us remain focused and alert to how we are spending our time and how the decisions we make contribute to what we’ve determined are priorities. Soon, we realize we are living a mindful life.
For me, living a mindful life is one where I’m:
Conscious of how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, what I’m doing and what choices I’m making in a given moment.
Aware of whether or not these choices support short-term pleasure or longer-term goals (to enjoy life, we need both).
Warm, kind and patient, as well thoughtful and considerate of myself and others.
Not making decisions in haste or acting on impulse too often (while allowing for a sense of fun spontaneity now and then).
On a mission: I’m clear on my why and trying to live it and further the goals associated with it in a manageable timeframe.
Not brought down by comments from others that are less than kind or helpful.
Energetic and committed to healthy habits almost always.
Optimistic and driven to do what I want to do with my life.
Engaged in work that I thrive in and look forward to tackling.
Spending time with the people, pets and projects I most cherish in the places I most enjoy being.
Not perfect and totally okay with that as long as I keep learning, improving and expressing as much gratitude as I can for every moment I’m given.
Very few of the items on this list ever even occurred to me before knowing what living with intention was all about and how enriching it could be. I’m sure glad I learned because I’m so much happier, healthier and more compassionately aware than ever before.
How about you? What’s your ideal Wheel of Life vision looking like and how might it impact your decision making? How might it lead to more intention? What’s your vision of a mindful life?
I’d love to hear about your experience and welcome comments below!
Trie Angeleva is a mindful career strategist who writes about mindful living and career transformation. She is founder of The Love Monday Method and developed and taught Career Success Preparation for The Media School at Indiana University. Follow her on instagram at @reimaginemonday for tips and strategies on how to love what you do and lead a mindful life.