Five weeks ago I wrote a post about Embracing the Essentials. I discussed the importance of paring down the number of opportunities and options available to us on a daily basis, of trimming the fat out of our lives so that we have enough resources—time, energy, money, focus—to devote to the things that we deem essential. Today, I’m taking that a step further. Today, I’m talking about intentionally investing in these most vital treasures.
What does it mean to invest intentionally?
It means forfeiting the nonessential in favor of the essential. It means walking the walk, not just talking the talk. It means not only saying something is important, but actually putting forth the necessary work to center our lives on that something (or those somethings). It means embodying our priorities so completely that our schedules reflect them.
Is it easy? No. Do I struggle with this? Absolutely. It is a struggle Every. Single. Day. But we are talking about progress, not perfection. And that progress cannot happen without intentionality. It will not happen without an investment of effort on our part. No one else’s priorities align with ours, so no one else is going to do it for us. No one else is going to write that book or start that business or relieve us of other demands so we have more time to spend with family and friends. Whatever we claim as our essentials, it is on us to intentionally invest in them. We have to do the work. We have to make the sacrifices. We have to take our lives off autopilot and jump back in the driver’s seat.
Unfortunately, this often means giving before getting. If you’re starting a business, you have to invest a lot up front before ever seeing that bottom line in the black. If you’re writing a book, you have to invest the time and energy into writing it without knowing whether or not it will be published. You may adopt a new workout program or a healthier way of eating for weeks or months before seeing results. And just because you dedicate a larger chunk of your attention and affection to that friend or family member, it does not guarantee reciprocation.
The reward is in investing intentionally in those things that create purpose and fulfillment. The reward is in simplifying and cutting out excess busyness in order to make room for that which elevates our level of joy and contentment. The reward is knowing that we are making a mindful attempt at being our best selves and living our best lives.
Because we only get this one life, and more than that, we only get once chance at today. We can choose to live it in tension—always at war between that which we know is essential to us and that which we’ve been told should be essential. Or we can choose to live it with intention—learning to carefully tailor our days until they exemplify our essentials.
Which will you choose?