Real Talk · Uncategorized

How to define your priorities & why you should care.

Before you jump into today’s post, I want to stop you and make sure you’ve read the post of mine from last week. While you could read today’s post and still gather something from it (hopefully!), that first post really sets this up – or at least that’s how I intended this whole priorities chat to go. I always like to tell the whole story of something instead of just sharing tips or whatever, so I hope that first post better lets you understand the WHY behind this post! And it might make it more personal for you too 🙂 OK but after that’s read, jump into this one…

The funny thing about “priorities” is that we all intend to have them and might even think we do, but following through and actually living a life that reflects them is a different story. This blog post has been a long time coming because I’m realizing that in order to – as cheesy as it sounds – live your best life and be your best self, you’ve GOT to figure out what’s most important to you. And that a lot of us, myself included, might think we know that, but we might not – and we definitely might not be living our life with those priorities at the forefront of our daily actions.

This whole topic and post are about why it’s important to define your personal priorities (because they’ll be different from mine or anyone else’s) and then how to start living your life with those priorities truly in mind – and with habits that keep them in practice! First up, the WHY!

Why it’s important to define your priorities.

Your top priorities in life impact everything. Literally, everything starts there. Your priorities shape your actions, your days spent on this Earth, the decisions you make, how you spend your time, and the type of behavior you’re willing to tolerate from other people. Or at least they should be if you are truly looking to live your best life.

Usually, I’d say it makes more sense to list out reasons WHY I think you should define your priorities. But in this case, I think it makes for a stronger point to explain what happens WHEN YOU DON’T define them. Read through this list and I bet you’ll be able to relate to some – if not many – of these examples.

If you’re not clear on your priorities, you’ll:

  • Have trouble managing your time and making progress on your goals. Actually, you’ll have a hard time even setting goals – much less following through on them.
  • Have a hard time following through on your commitments. You’re likely to overwhelm yourself with too many responsibilities because you’re disillusioned into thinking that you can do it all. Sorry to break the bad news dolls, but you can’t do it all. And not everything is equally important. You have to draw the line somewhere.
  • End up going through the motions of your life in a constant reactive state, falling victim to what’s urgent and pressing on you in the moment. And then by the time you’ve reached the important tasks, you’re exhausted and spent and end up pushing it off until later.
  • Struggle to quickly and confidently make decisions because you lack clarity on your values and long-term vision for your life.
  • Fall victim to living out what you think your priorities should be based on other people’s or what you’re reading or consuming.

You’re not alone, this is hard for everyone.

I’ll admit, it’s uncomfortable to define your priorities because it forces you to deal with the inevitable reality of trade-offs. It forces you to face the fact that you cannot do it all and that prioritizing requires sacrifice. It requires you to push some things down the list or even scratch them off all together. But it’s better to be in the driver seat, making this decision, than letting it happen to you. It’s better to know what you’re sacrificing upfront, rather than be surprised or upset by it later.

Do you see why I feel so strongly about this?! It’s SO important to define your priorities SO THAT you can live a life that reflects them. I’d say the hardest part is figuring out what they are and then looking at whether your time and energy align with them. If you need help figuring out what your top priorities are, keep reading.

How to define your top priorities.

You can’t prioritize what’s important if you don’t KNOW what’s important to you…

So let’s figure that out! I’m going to walk you through the process I personally went through about two years ago when trying to define what was most important to me. It was incredibly helpful and has changed my life for the better! I hope you’ll be able to find the time and answer these questions for yourself.

Step One: Set aside the time to do it.

This is important because casually thinking about it while you read this article doesn’t count. You actually need to find some time in your schedule and sit with a piece of paper and a pen– I’d say at least an hour or two, and make it pleasant. Grab a cup of tea on a weekend day, light a candle, make the space feel open to thoughts.  Come back to this post when you’re ready to really think through this exercise I’m about to guide you through. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Step Two: Create a list of things you consider to be priorities.

If this sounds overwhelming, let me help guide you through it. By definition, priorities are the tasks, experiences and actions that fulfill your personal values. If you don’t know what your personal values are, that’s okay, we’ll figure it out together through this exercise.

Note: When answering these questions, I want you to be honest with yourself. We have a tendency to feel like certain things should be a priority in our lives and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves because of it. Try not to do that. It’s hard but TRY.

Question One: What are the things in your life currently, that if removed or destroyed, would most impact you (and leave a big, gaping hole)?

  • These are things that you want to maintain, but could also be areas of your life that you want to IMPROVE.
  • Note that it will be specific and different for each person but consider the following: your health, your partner, your family, your friends, your job, etc. But this is just the starting place. Keep reading.

Question Two: What are things in your life that you have now, but you would like to be better?

  • Also, think about why you want them to improve – not why you think they should improve but really how your life, your days, your world, would improve. This is important.
  • Things to consider: Relationships with friends, working on your marriage, health, home organization, closet organization, time for reading.

Question Three: What do you most desire?

  • Think about your personal longings and dreams. What do you hope will happen? What do you hope to accomplish (and why)?
  • When doing this exercise, BE HONEST with yourself. It’s hard sometimes to admit some things to ourselves like, well I really just want to be loved (that’s OKAY!) or I want to be successful so I’ll feel good about myself and others will think I’m impressive (that’s OKAY TOO!). The key here is to be direct and honest and keep asking why.
  • Here are some common examples of desires to get your mind going: Career success and satisfaction, to start a family, find a husband or true love, deep relationships with friends and a strong community of people to do life with, to help people and contribute to society, to make a difference or cause change, to leave a legacy and be remembered, to be liked or admired, To be happier or experience more joy in your current circumstances, to heal from the pain or hurts of your past etc.

Question Four: What are you most unhappy with in your life right now and why?

  • Thinking about what you’re most unsatisfied or unhappy with gives you another perspective into what might be missing from your life. It will also help you see areas that you’d like to improve. These areas might also be symptoms of bigger issues too or help you realize that you’re neglecting one area of your life and it is impacting another.
  • Some examples to get you started:
    • You’re feeling stressed at work and it’s spilling over into your personal life, distancing you from the people you care about most.
    • You’re hanging out with people that you don’t totally feel comfortable with, and you’re not being your true self with them – this could be in a romantic relationship too.
    • You’re watching a ton of TV but aren’t making time for hobbies that actually give you happiness.
    • You’re living life based on what you think you should be doing for success, even when it doesn’t feel right to you.
    • You’re tired all the time and it’s starting to take a toll on you.
    • You’re gaining weight and you want to stop your unhealthy habits before things get too out of hand.

Step Three: review step two and create a list of priorities.

Look over everything you’ve written and write out a list of 6-10 things that are important to you. This might take some time because I know you want to write everything, but we’ve got to make a clear list. We can deal with the details and specifics later, but make a neat list of one-lined items (bonus points if you can put a WHY behind each one). For example:

  • Improve my health because it is good for my mind and body and sense of self-confidence.
  • Invest in friendships because spending time with friends brings me joy and I know that I was built for connection and community.
  • Take better care of my home because I often feel overwhelmed and stressed when things pile up, so I think getting organized will help improve my life overall.
  • Get to sleep on time because I know that more sleep will positively impact multiple areas of my life.
  • Build a business so that I can follow my dream or to find more freedom with my schedule.
  • Put more love back into my marriage.

Step Four: narrow your list to your top 3-5 priorities.

This is important because this is where most people get tripped up. Unfortunately, you cannot do it all and you will HAVE to CHOOSE what is MOST important from all the things that are important to you (aka the list above). It’s okay, you can do it!

Narrowing down the list you just made in step three is really important. You just listed out 6-10 of your top priorities, which should have gotten your brain going and helping you to refine your list of ALL THE THINGS that are important to you.

But, from this list I think it’s really important to highlight your MOST important priorities – the ones that WILL have a trump card over all the others. This doesn’t mean the others aren’t important, it just means that you’ll have some sort of hierarchy since you won’t be able to realistically live out ALL of them at ALL times. And personally, I think it’s important to keep the “TOP” priorities list UNDER 5.

Here are some tips for narrowing down your list:

  • Is this priority connected to my long-term goals and vision for my life?
  • Is it really a priority or do I just feel like it should be?
  • What is my WHY behind said priority? For instance, if getting a promotion at work is a priority, think about why you want it. Is it for money and will that money truly impact your happiness? Is it for status and does that really matter? Will it excel your career and let you travel the world which you’ve always wanted to do? Sometimes exploring the why can reveal new truths and insights to us that will help in getting more perspective.
  • Would I be willing to sacrifice for said priority? And why?
  • Would this priority truly impact my life on the regular?
  • What would my life look like if I choose this as one of my top 5? And will that really matter?

Realize that if you don’t choose your “TOP” priorities, then your circumstances or other people will choose FOR you.

Keep in mind that these priorities do NOT have to be forever. I like to think of priorities as an evolving list that changes with the different seasons of my life. Some seasons might call for work to be a priority, others for health, and then others for family. It does not have to be set in stone.

Step Five: write the list out & review a week later.

Okay so you’ve gone through all these steps (hopefully!) and now I want you to write them out! I keep them in a list in my NOTES app on my iPhone! Then walk away for a bit, spend some time away from all this introspective, priorities-based thinking. It’s important to let it all sink in and put some space and time between you and your list. And then look at it again a week or so later and see if you agree with this list! And if you still stand behind what you wrote down!

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Now that you KNOW what your priorities are, the next step is to assess how your current life aligns with them. And then once we’ve done that, we’ll start taking baby steps to honestly living out our priorities each and every day.

This blog post has gotten WAY too long, so I’ll have to cover that one in another post in the coming weeks! If you got to the end of this, I’m REALLY proud of you! I may or may not have spent WAY TOO much time on this post, but I believe so strongly in doing a reflective exercise like this and think it’s important.

Next up, we’ll talk about how to actually INCORPORATE these priorities into your life (which is where I think a lot of us get stuck), but at least we have them now. So let them sit and we’ll be back on this soon!

Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog

XOXO.

B.

Real Talk · Uncategorized

My life was incredibly unbalanced and I couldn’t figure out why.

I had another blog post scheduled in my calendar for today. It’s titled “Why You Need to Know What Your Priorities Are & How To Figure it Out.” I’m still going to publish it another day, but I wanted to write a less formal, more personal #BeccaBrain type post to walk you through HOW we got here – to me wanting to write a post on priorities.

About two years ago, I hit a major wall. I was in a perpetual FUNK and couldn’t figure out what was wrong to save my life.

I was burnt out, exhausted and apathetic. I was going through the motions, surviving rather than thriving. And I hate when I get like that. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my life was incredibly unbalanced. I worked almost every day and even when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work. And if I wasn’t thinking about it, there was still this feeling. This icky, heavy feeling weighing me down.

If you had asked me to list my priorities, I probably would have told you my relationship, family, friendships, health, and work. And I actually believed all of those things were priorities (ha!). But my schedule and my day-to-day life did not reflect this at all.

I allowed work to come before just about everything, making sacrifices in other areas of my life in order to get just a little more work done. I’d tell myself I would get to all the other *important things* later. That I’d make up for it the next week. The more I achieved, the faster I ran, believing the lie that my efforts and sacrifices were worth the elusive reward I was chasing.

What was I even chasing though? To be honest, I don’t think I could have told you the answer. But I couldn’t stop.

Work made me feel good. It made me feel important. And there was instant gratification. I was addicted to the feeling of productivity, success, and affirmation. And my life just got so out of balance because of it. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t think I fully realized the effect that the unbalance was having on me emotionally, physically, and even professionally too (like I think my work suffered because I wasn’t living life if that makes sense?)

There were several times that I tried to incorporate balance back into my schedule. I’d sign up for yoga classes or plan coffee dates with friends. OR I’d force myself to take days off and set arbitrary boundaries for when to stop working each night.

But doing these things was not enough. When push came to shove, I could always somehow justify or rationalize choosing work.

I wasn’t getting to the root of the issue. I needed to take a step back and see the way my life actually looked and compare that to what I wanted long-term. And I needed some major perspective.

During one of my breakdowns, I started keeping a jounral. I took a step back from everything and tried to go back to the basics. I wrote these questions down:

  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • What’s important to you and why?
  • What do you desire most?

I spent TIME writing down the answers and actually THINKING about the answers before writing them. I didn’t just write what came to my head because honestly some of those answers didn’t feel real at first. So I let my thoughts marinate and THEN I answered them.

This was a GAME CHANGER for me.

I was able to see clearly that my life did not align with who I wanted to be, what’s important to me, and my deepest desires. Something about writing it down and seeing the discrepancies really gave me a clear perspective.

And so I started to dig. I asked myself a lot of WHY questions. I started journaling a lot more, spending way more time in self-reflection. I asked myself why I was running so hard and what I was running towards. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it out. But I will say that writing down WHO I wanted to be and what I believed to be MOST important set the stage for some radical transformation in my life.

Once I put on paper what my priorities were and saw how I wasn’t living them out, I knew I needed to make some changes.

If you don’t know what your priorities are in life, then the world will define them for you. If you don’t define what’s important to you and commit to following through, then the urgent things in your day-to-day will takeover your life. Time will pass, things will pile up and before you know it, you’ll realize you’re not living the life you want to be living.

Because trust me, more money or a more successful career (or whatever) is not what you’re missing in life. And it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re running towards.

So, stay tuned and come back to the blog next week to read my post on why you need to define your priorities and how to do it! And then eventually we’ll talk about how to actually live them out!

Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog

XOXO.

B.

 

Decor · Fashion · Real Talk · Uncategorized

5 Reasons why I’m inspired by the pursuit of less.

The idea of pursuing less in a more intentional way is a topic that seems to pop up in my life every so often. I first heard about it at a conference years ago, and now it seems to be an idea I’m hearing almost weekly. Whether it be in a book I’m reading, someone I’m talking to, or just how I’m feeling internally.

You likely know by now that I’m a dreamer, a thinker. I can be pretty intense. And it’s not that I’m doing or accomplishing more than others, because that’s not true; I simply have a brain that works on overdrive. My thoughts are all over the place and there are so many ideas that I want to run with. Which can be great at times, but it’s mostly just A LOT. Internally, it’s a lot.

Then on the flip side, externally there’s a lot going on as well. My life is full of clutter and excess. There’s just so much stuff. Everywhere.

It just happens; things pile up. Whether that’s the shoes in my closet or the appointments in my calendar or my running “Adulting” to-do list. Ugh, speaking of, I still need to get an oil change and clean out my car.

And I’ve noticed that a lot of the internal and external clutter overlaps. For example, I will think about all these new beauty products I want to try to show you and accompanying blog posts I want to write (internal clutter), then I’ll go buy twenty things (external clutter), then I’ll go to do my budget and realize I’m spending too much on things (internal clutter), and the cycle goes on.

I doubt I’m the only one that feels like my life is an ongoing clutter cycle both internally and externally; I mean there are entire TV shows and books dedicated to the issue. (Which is kinda ironic because consuming information can also lead to more clutter in our lives, but I’ll leave you with that for today.) Anyways, the point is that I’ve been truly inspired by the idea of pursuing less in life as of late. And this doesn’t feel like a #BeccaBrain idea that will pass in a day. This feels like more than that. It’s something I really, really feel connected to and want to try out for real.

Living with less stuff, more margin. Buying intentionally, thinking intentionally. Removing the clutter from inside and out. Pursuing LESS.

You’ll definitely be seeing more on this topic as I dive into it in different aspects of my life (like cleaning out my shoe closest which I did a couple weeks ago…whoa), but for now, I wanted this post to be more of an intro. I wanted to explain to you what this pursuit of less was, and why I’m fired up about it. If you’re wanting to know why I’m so inspired, keep reading.

sweaters

Why I’m inspired by the pursuit of less.

I have about a million reasons here, but in the spirit of doing less (ha!), I’m outlining the 5 that really stand out to me. Or the reasons why this whole idea has sparked me to make legit changes in my life.

Reason No. 1 – More time for things that matter.

We have 24 hours in the day (maybe closer to 16 if you don’t count sleep), and we spend so little of that time doing things that truly matter. Not that everything we do needs to change the world or even pursue our dreams, but how much time do we spend on things that we don’t enjoy? Way too much! Life is short – why are we wasting our precious time on things that we dread or that don’t increase our happiness? I know we have to work. Yes, of course. But is there any flexibility in what you’re doing everyday? Could you be working towards doing more things you love and that make you feel alive? Do you even know what those things are?

So often the clutter, especially internally, weighs us down and we kinda forget about what matters – the things that light us up. We’re so bogged down in the errands and caring what people think and honestly, pretty selfish tasks. Part of it is our busy go go go culture, part of it is keeping up with everyone’s highlight reel on social media, and part of it is that we’re all working our booties off. I get it! But the idea of pursuing less to leave time for the things that actually matter is incredibly appealing to me.

What in your life or on your to-do list doesn’t matter? Maybe that book club is only to keep up with a group that you don’t actually get pleasure from? Is spending an hour a night on social media really making you happy? Are we so confused with the things we think we have to do that we forget about the things we want to do? When in your life do you feel your best? Think about it!

jeans.jpg

Reason No. 2 – Less stress.

I mean, right?!

Studies show that people are more stressed out than EVER before and even things like anxiety are creeping up in crazy high numbers.

Like I mentioned above, the clutter cycle is real, and it’s where a lot of the stress in my life comes from. I almost feel embarrassed typing this out, but if I think about my stressors in daily life, it’s things like “Will this X item arrive on time?”.. “ughh I hope there isn’t too much snow tonight when I walk Winston”.. “OMG I need to get another blog post up” .. “I have so many calls today” .. “my voicemail is full…again” .. “Where will I put all these boxes because our recycling is full?” and so on. *Tell me I’m not alone!*

Of course I have more personal stressors and things that go wrong in my life (more than clothes), but honestly, a lot of that is because of STUFF. Because of clutter. Because of unnecessary things I’ve chosen to add to my life.

Clutter is stressful! Physical clutter leads to mental clutter and vice versa, and it can even become a psychological crutch.

Reason No. 3 – Less mental clutter.

This is probably the number one reason why I’m inspired by the pursuit of less. And it’s a lot. My mind is constantly jumping from task to thought to stressor and so on. And even if you don’t suffer from Becca Brain, in general, clutter has a negative impact on psychology. Our brains actually have 50-70K thoughts a day which is insane! But I’m adamant that if life was simpler, we might have less to think about – or at least there wouldn’t be such a wild variety of what our brain is jumping to with all our thoughts.

I’m SO excited by the idea of a simplified life and a simplified brain. Not that I’m nearly there, but this is something that’ll be pushing me to get there.

tea towels

Reason No. 4 – Simplified spaces.

For any of you who have read Marie Kondo’s book and have simplified your space, you probably know what a simple home can do for your mind. And this is one area that I really need help with. Getting organized and tidy is incredibly inspiring to me because it’s SO not my strength and it’s even a little out of my comfort zone.

As a blogger, my job is to show you new outfits, how I’m decorating my house, what I’m making for dinner and so on (or at least that’s part of my job and what I’ve been doing for some time now). Mix that with a personality that naturally likes to shop and buy new things, and I live in a house with a lot of STUFF. Not that our house is a total disaster, but as I sit here and look in every corner or at every room, there’s just a lot of stuff. Too much stuff.

My closet is probably the worst as I have way too many clothes, I know that. It’s almost (embarrassingly) impossible to get dressed some days because I literally have too many choices. And I am NOT trying to brag here – I’m trying to do the opposite actually.

Maybe some of  you can relate – at least with all the stuff. Like, why do we feel like we need SO much in order to live a good life? When all that does is bring clutter to our homes and lives, more decisions, more things to deal with, and so on.

I’m so drawn to the idea of a simpler home containing only items that I LOVE. Or even that I NEED. Not items that I’m buying to fill a space or to cope with an internal issue or because that’s what people do.

Plus, on a health-related note, a simple home is actually a lot better for our systems. Less stuff tends to lead to less dust and fewer allergies, and etc.

I want my home to be somewhere that feels serene and peaceful – and I think my mind will have an easier time following suit from there.

sweaters 2

Reason No. 5 – More savings.

I’ve told you that I’m trying to reign in my budget lately – we do have a wedding to pay for now. Well, it goes without saying that acquiring less things definitely helps. It’s actually painful when I look around our house or my closet and think of things I don’t love slash want to get rid of and the money they cost. It’s not a reason to keep things, I’m realizing that.

All I can do is get rid of what I don’t love (maybe sell some), and let it be a lesson. I’m also thinking of it as further motivation to pursue less so that I don’t find myself in a cycle of spending on crap.

I haven’t done it yet, but I can see myself trying to do a no shopping or spending challenge eventually to accompany pursuing less. Either way, if you buy less, you spend less. Simple as that.

Definitely stay tuned for more on this subject, because as you can tell – I’m excited! Hopefully you are too. Let me know your thoughts on this and if there’s any area of your life that you’ve struggled with pursuing less. Or areas that you’ve totally killed it in. I’d love to get your take on diving into this!

Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog

XOXO.

B.