by Robert Guzzo, co-founder of Handcrafted Honey Bee
I used to live for the weekends. I would grit my teeth, put my head down, and just “try to get through” the work day. I would look back at the end of a week, not quite sure what I had really accomplished. And then I would sit and wonder why it felt like my life was passing by and moving aimlessly.
Everything changed for me when I started changing the way I saw my day. Instead of looking at each day as something to endure in order to get to the good stuff, I began to realize that each day had good stuff I was missing out on.
I started to ask myself hard questions: What was I doing to contribute to the good stuff of each day? What was I giving each day for others to receive? How well were my actions reflecting my values, my beliefs, and my passions? How was my participation in each day taking me closer toward my goals and aspirations?
I decided to be more conscious about the way I approached my days and more purposeful about the choices I made. And I noticed something interesting. By being more focused about what I was doing, I was also able to be more present to the people, conversations, and events I encountered, even when those things had nothing to do with what I was trying to accomplish that day.
When I began to look at my daily experiences in terms of relationship, rather than milestones to pass along the trail to somewhere, I learned to focus more on enjoying the journey and valuing the unexpected unfolding of each day. I started to see the unique gifts of each day building upon the next, moving in the direction I wanted my life to go.
With small daily steps, we can change the entire way we see the world, but those steps must be intentional if we want that change to be for the better. Here is the approach that has worked for me, in order to slowly bring more focus and purpose to my days:
Prepare the Night Before
A good day needs a good foundation. You’ll be less distracted and more motivated if you get enough quality sleep.
So put the phone down. Turn off the TV. Get to bed an hour earlier. And identify the one thing you want to accomplish tomorrow. Of course, there will be a long list of things you’d like to do, but this is your chance to mentally prepare yourself to focus on one important thing from the very start of your day.
Start the Day Right
Get out of bed an hour earlier than your normal routine.
I’ll let that sink in.
You know how it always feels like there’s not enough time in the day, and you wish that there were a way to just gain a little more time to do the things that you love?
This is how you do it.
And you’ll do it without sacrificing your sleep, because you went to bed an hour earlier than usual. If you get out of bed an hour earlier than usual and start working on that one thing you planned to do the night before, you manufacture an extra day for yourself every month!
This is the time to mentally prepare yourself for the rest of the day. What are your goals for this day? What are your hopes? Do you have any anxieties about what this day holds for you? What is the one thing you want to accomplish today?
Focus as the Day Unfolds
As you work on your goals and activities for the day, it’s important to focus on the task-at-hand and not the outcome. Once you have committed yourself to the work, thinking about the outcome will allow doubts and fears begin to erode your energy and reduce your momentum.
You have probably already spent a lot of time considering the expected results of your efforts–it’s likely why you committed to do it in the first place! Now is the time to set aside your plans and expectations. Now is the time to work towards that goal.
By the same token, always remain open to the opportunities that present themselves each day. Not everything has to be planned. In fact, you have only planned to do one thing today. And you likely made good progress towards that one thing in the early hours of the day.
That means you don’t have to worry about this day being “wasted” if you take time out to nourish a relationship, do something to care for yourself, or stop to enjoy an unexpected conversation with someone you meet during the day.
Finally, as you travel through your day, pay attention to the words that you use and the way that you say them. Take note of your emotions, your environment, and the people around you. Remember that you never travel alone.
End the Day in Examination & Gratitude
Now, at the close of the day, ask yourself these questions: What good things happened to you today? What are you thankful for? What was your predominant emotion today? What can you do differently or better tomorrow?
These are good conversation starters for the dinner table–I mean, how many times can you ask, “So how was your day”? They are good questions for your journal. I can tell you from personal experience, if you get into the habit of asking your kids this question, you may be surprised and delighted at the responses you get.
And so, the day begins again with preparation the night before. Cultivating a new habit takes time, commitment, and patience with the results. And this is just a framework that has worked very well for me–there are other ways to approach your day more intentionally. But if you are feeling dissatisfied with the seeming aimlessness of your days (as I was), then it will take small, purposeful, daily changes to move things in a better direction. And then, maybe you can start to enjoy every day…not just the weekends.