How to Live More Intentionally in 2018

Simple answer: Tell the universe what you want. (You may want to skip to Section 2 of this post if you’re not really feelin’ the universe at this time)

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

SECTION 1: Signs That the Universe Conspires

DREAM CAR:

A coworker asked me what my dream car was when I was working at the outlet mall in the summer of 2005. 12 years later I finally driving it after landing a good post-MBA job and moonlighting as a paid search consultant for a couple months in 2016. Thankfully Infiniti hasn’t changed the car much for that long and it’s everything I thought it would be.

Universe conspiring: On a snowy winter morning in 2016, we had a scary accident while driving our Corolla, totaling the car after it did a 360 across 3 lanes of traffic on the highway. After that we basically decided our next car would be AWD which brought be back to the G37x. Without that accident, I’m not sure I would be driving this car right now (b/c that damn Corolla kept going even though it had over 200k miles).

CITY LIVING:

I’ve been obsessed with the city of Chicago for most of my life. I don’t really know why. I mean besides the general sense of it being “so cool” you know? We have an ocean-sized lake and a beautiful skyline. And the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world when I was growing up. I think we also just went downtown a lot when people visited. I wanted to experience living downtown, but had almost given up on the idea due to its impracticality.

Universe conspiring: My brother found someone, Rucha, liked her and decided to marry her while Bhumi and I were living in Indy. I thought we’d be in Indiana for another year but the universe had other plans. Rucha was going to go to grad school just a few blocks away from where we collectively decided to buy a condo (b/c it just made practical sense to do so heh). In the end she decided on another path, but man the circumstances just worked in such a way that the timing was perfect. The fact that we owned a condo motivated me to get a job in Chicago quickly after my MBA to fulfil my destiny of 2 awesome years of city living, just a skip and a throw away from the Sears Tower AND Giordano’s (Bless the universe!!).

HOME SWEET HOMES:

Bhumi and I just moved into a “forever” home in Naperville. My brother and his wife did the same… next door. The parents will be moving in with all of us soon after we sell the Aurora house. Doing this was something we’ve been talking about as a family for over a decade.

Universe conspiring: Both my brother and I are lucky enough to have maintained strong relationships with our parents, fortunate to have found wives who are down with all of this, and fortunate to be in similar enough financial/career situations where it makes sense. Oh, and a subdivision of single-family homes in the perfect location and price range just happened to pop-up at the right time (I’m going to be a father in 5 to 6 months!).

TEACHING:

I’ve been toying with the idea of teaching since middle school. I remember conducting an informal survey of my teachers with two questions: 1) Did you know you were going to become a teacher when you were in grade school? (most: “no”) and 2) Do you enjoy your job? (all: “yes!”). Several years ago I finally wrote down that I wanted to teach on one of my goal planning brainstorming sheets in the “5 – 10 years” section (template shared for your benefit below).

Universe conspiring: In 2014, I had the opportunity to enter the Higher Education industry for my job where I got to teach my first college-level guest lecture for my boss’s communications class. Then I got to stay in HigherEd with my next job at an organization that actively promotes education-related volunteer opportunities. This past year I got to teach 4th graders about entrepreneurship and business, and teach high schoolers about coding and product development. If the stars continue to align in 2018, I may have to opportunity to teach my first full college-level course!

 

SECTION 2: How My Intentions Influenced My Behavior

Ok fine, so you’re here for something a little more tangible?

If you missed my post from last year on how I wanted to start living more intentionally, it might help to check that out first. In short: I used the commonly known OGSM method used for goal-setting in the business world and applied it to my personal activities. In other words: I spent time thinking about and writing down my intentions. Here are the results:

Documenting how and where I spent my time using a basic wall calendar and some help with Google’s navigation history enabled me to better understand where my days were going. Spending some time to think about where I actually wanted to spend my time and writing that down in my blog post last year helped me solidify my goals and intentions. The combination of those simple activities clearly influenced my behavior in 2017 as evidenced by the chart above.

One of my favorite examples of how my goal-setting influenced my behavior in 2017: I had planned to return to Indiana for my graduation in May, just a month after returning from my scuba diving trip in Belize. Bhumi and knew we would be staying with my cousins Rachna and Scot during the trip. That also meant we’d get to spend time with our “nephews” Ronak and Milan. I remember sitting there on my hotel bed during the trip thinking, “How can I do something cool for the boys? Something to connect with them?” The fact that I had written down that I wanted to make more of an effort to connect with and teach my younger cousins something on my list of goals made me dedicate some more mental energy towards this interaction. That eventually led to the creation of “My First Book of Caribbean Sealife” – a self-made photo book using stills from my GoPro videos of 50+ unique fish, coral and sea creatures that I looked-up and identified using a book I bought in Belize (not guaranteeing 100% accuracy, but I’d say a good 93% of them are spot on). I spent hours upon hours on this thing to 1) extract the unique creatures from all the videos, and 2) identify them, but man was it worth it!

A simple goal led to a unique application of my creativity – a book that I’ve been able to share with several other cousins’ kids and friends’ kids throughout last year. Many of our friends have told us now that the kids know our names because of they like going through the book often! How freaking cool is that.

Another quick example: we wanted to increase time with cousins and siblings and how often we hosted people in an effort to strengthen those relationships. As the results show, we did both in 2017 often knocking out 2 birds with 1 stone by calling over our cousins and siblings to hang with us downtown.

SECTION 3: Simple Tools to Help You Live More Intentionally

Hopefully that’s enough to convince you that this process can and does work. I’d like to offer you the templates that helped me live more intentionally with the hopes that you can do the same in the new year:

Goal Brainstorming Worksheet:

  • I do this a couple times a year just to get a better understanding of where I am with my intentions and desires.
  • Keep your latest copy in a visible place where you’ll encounter it every now and then – it helps!

 

Near-Term & Life Plan Worksheet:

  • This is business strategy approach on how to execute on your goals
  • This is meant to be a little more permanent but can evolve as your intentions in life change

 

Life Activity Tracker – Spreadsheet:

  • I get this data from the wall calendar that I keep at my desk and regularly update with upcoming events and activities I did (PS – did you know the Dollar Store sells calendars?)
  • You can make your own categories based on what’s important to you and expand this file

 

I turned this files into Google Docs so you can just open them and create a copy of the file on your own Google Drive. Then you can edit and customize to your liking.

 

SECTION 4: Some Stuff I Just Wanted to Share

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is way great spiritual giants are produced.”

— Swami Vivekananda

“I don’t mind that you spend time watching movies and plays, but dare to live in such a way that someone will one day write a play about your life.”

Pujya Dadaji (paraphrased)

 

“I am not throwing away my shot!”

Alexander Hamilton (maybe)

 

2 insightful videos/interviews:

 

If you connected with any of the above or found any of the resources useful, please take a second to leave a comment. I’d love your thoughts and feedback! As always, thank you for reading!!

Leave a Reply