Wednesday, September 17, 2014

evaluation : the art of the intentional life

Our blinds have been slowly breaking. Over the last few years cords have snapped and the turn sticks have begun to fall off. At seven years they are showing their age. So, naturally, they need replacing. Mini blinds aren’t my favorite, and more expensive window treatments are beyond the budget. 

In my intentional life I find myself really thinking about everything. Like those blinds in need of repair or replacing; I think about how I use my home and my time, and I evaluate everything.

In the evaluation process I realized that I just hate blinds, simply because of the dust magnets that they are. They are in constant need of dusting, and given our dry desert climate, that won’t be changing anytime soon. Couple that with the construction of a new subdivision down the street, and we’ll be living in dust city for the unforeseeable future. 

With this in mind, I decided to go simple and replace them with drapes only. 

Cultivating a life of intention, or living my life on purpose, calls me to be a harsh evaluator. I ask the questions constantly. Why do we do what we do? It’s not just about mini blinds, it’s about our whole lifestyle. 

I take stock of how our activities add to our lives, or detract from them by bringing in more stress and less joy. It’s a never ending process, this evaluation, as seasons bring new things and force us to ask the questions all over again. 

But this evaluating it takes work.

I picked up some new workout DVDs at the beginning of the year. They have proven to be a good investment, as they are tough, and require much effort to just get through to the end. Throughout each session the trainer continually challenges me to make a mind and muscle connection. She urges me to think about the muscles I’m working, knowing that the intention I give to the work greatly affects the impact I get from it. 

Marcus Arelius reminds us “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” The effort I give to those workouts determines the impact the workouts have in my life. Similarly, the efforts I give to my life determine the kind of life that I live. 

Intentional living asks questions. We must ask, and ask again, what we are doing and why, always giving thought to our actions. We ask the hard questions and let the uncomfortable answers drive us to do things different. This applies to the big things as well as the little things.

Some questions that we ask ourselves are:

  • Is this working for our family?
  • Does this event/activity/way of doing things cause us stress?
  • What can be done to make things more simple?
  • Does the stress that this event/activity/way of doing things may cause outweigh any benefit that this brings?

Brining it back to the blinds, we asked if what we had was working for our family. The answer was no, the blinds were broken. Did the blinds cause stress? Actually they did. The cleaning they require caused me to feel unnecessary stress, the fact that the kids couldn’t open them themselves caused them stress as well. To make things more simple the thing to do was replace them with what works for our family. 

It’s a simple model, but these questions can apply for bigger stuff as well. Careers, homes, hobbies, and relationships all can be run through the same process. 

Evaluating things doesn’t make us skeptics, it makes us better managers of our lives. 

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