4 Tips For Loving Your Life When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing With It

I’m a chronically indecisive person–just ask my fiancé.

Because he’s a nice guy, he always asks my opinion on where we should eat if we go out…and even when he narrows it down to three or four options for me, my go to answer is, “Ugh, I don’t know…surprise me!” (He’s not a fan of this answer).

My best  friend has always known what she wanted to be when we grew up–always. When we met in first grade, she was dead set on being a kindergarten teacher someday, and that dream has never wavered. She’ll graduate in May with a degree in Elementary Education.

I, on the other hand, have never had a real plan for my life.

I contemplated teaching.

And writing.

And dancing.

And singing.

And acting.

And nursing.

And being an artist.

And maybe even a children’s book author/illustrator.

And a missionary.

And a social worker.

And, finally settled on studying psychology (because that’s not a broad major at all…)

Even as I began my senior year of college, I didn’t know what my next step would be after graduation–

I was a college senior who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life.

And I was beyond frustrated.

You see, I’ve always had big dreams, and I’ve always wanted to change the world–hence the tagline of this blog–but I’ve never, ever known where to start. My mom’s frequent “encouragement” was to remind me that there are people her age that still don’t know what they want to do with their lives (*not helpful*).

And, as someone who doesn’t function well without well-laid plans and visions for the future, I’ve always struggled with worry, over-thinking, self-doubt, and contentment.

And then, things *magically* changed. 

Within a month I was a college graduate, a certified CNA, moved into a duplex much closer to my family, engaged, and about to start grad school to earn my Master’s in Counseling.

 

Let me tell you, people, for the first time in my life, I *finally* feel like I have my life together!

So, ya know, I’m basically an expert in having your life together now, and I’m here to tell you how to love *your* life! (jk, jk, I’m still a baby trying to learn to walk in this big ol’ world–but I really do want to encourage you!!)

                                           

So, without further ado–let’s break out the list!


1.)  Make Time For the People You Love.

Cliché, right?

But, honestly, this is actually harder than it seems.

I like to overcommit myself…which leaves me drained, overwhelmed, and *real* cranky (ask my fiancé…)

I know this about myself, and it’s something that I’m working on (okay. I’m not so much working on not overcommitting myself as I am working on not being so cranky…I’m a people-pleaser, what can I say?) because I don’t want to give my loved ones the leftovers.

These are the people who support me through everything life throws my way–the ones who cry-laugh and laugh-cry with me. The ones I can count on and the people who don’t just want to *see* me succeed–they want to *help* me succeed.

So, is it fair of me to bring home my frustrations and project them onto my loved ones? Absolutely not. (Trust me. It just makes you feel ten times worse and then everybody’s left feeling pretty crummy).

How can we fix this, though?

Well, by golly, I’m glad you asked!

Let me introduce you to my little friend, the planner!

Pencil in your loved ones. Make them a priority in your weekly or even daily schedule. Be intentional about giving them the freshest slices of your daily loaf and not just the dry, leftover crusts that the rest of the world left on your chipped and scratched dinner plate of life.

I don’t care if it’s your spouse, parents, children, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, or the random guy next door that you’re bizarrely close with– show them how much they mean to you by the way you treat them.

We don’t always have the space in our schedule to pencil in long amounts of time with loved ones–but *quality* over quantity here, people.

Let’s say you have a possession that you really, really, I mean, really, love. (for the sake of imagery, let’s say it’s a…coffee mug. Favorite color. Bedazzled with your name. All that jazz.)

Now, how are you going to treat that special little mug of yours? Does it get haphazardly shoved to the back of the cupboard with the dozens of other, less-fancy and not-so-special mugs of yours? I mean, it’s always going to be there for you, right? You don’t need to treat it special. If it falls off the shelf and cracks or chips a little, that’s fine….right?

Wrong.

If that mug is as special as you say it is, you’re going to treat it like a prized possession.

                                      

Wash it.

Polish it.

Wax it.

Shine it.

Daily. 

Clear a new spot for it on the shelf. Nothing else comes close to it because nothing else can compare to it. Keep it safe and sacred even if you only get to spend a few minutes a day drinking from it

See where I’m going with this??

I hope so. And I hope we can move forward with a better idea of how we should prioritize loved ones in our lives.

**I also hope we can move forward with this post because **holy cow** point #1 is basically a post all of its own…why didn’t you interrupt me? :)**

Okay, okay…

2.)  Make Time For Yourself.

Ugh, I know. Another cliché.

However, it’s true. In today’s day and age, we’re constantly plugged in with each other (work/school/social media/texts/emails/etc./etc./etc.) and, frankly, it can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Now, maybe you’re an extrovert who re-energizes by being around people (more power to ya!) and you’re over there thinking Little-Miss-Introverted-Brook is crazy for suggesting that alone time will help you love life more.

It’s okay. I do have my crazy moments.

*BUT* don’t just take my word for it. Science and psychology back me up on this one.

You see, taking (an appropriate amount of) time for yourself (let’s maybe not become hermits, mmkay?) not only improves your mental health, it gives you time to reflect–on the past, the present, and the future.

This “me-time” becomes your moment to remember what has been and to set new goals for the future.

But don’t forget that it’s also time to have fun!

I use my alone time to do things that I enjoy or have been wanting to do (things other people won’t necessarily appreciate as much as I do if I invite them to join me).

For instance, when I get an evening to myself, I might paint or write. Sometimes I pick up a good book. Once in awhile I’ll go for a run. And I love a nice hot bubble bath. Heck, sometimes I’ll turn the TV on and clean the house while watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reruns. Sometimes it’s as simple as vegging out on the couch or taking a solid nap.

But, no matter what it is, making time for the things that you’re passionate about and practicing good self-care are some of the best ways to stay motivated and enjoy life a little more. Even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes, try to set aside some time each and every day for YOU!

3.)  Spend More Time With God.

For me, this actually ties into #2, because I enjoy making my devotional time a part of my self-care plan. The more time I spend with God, the more Christlike I become–and who doesn’t want that?

Furthermore, spending time with God and in His Word lends itself to some quality reflection time–discovering areas in our lives that we might want to (ahem, need to) work on a little more–which, in turn, improves our  outlook on life (because progressing with self-improvement actually stimulates the part of our brain that handles satisfaction).

Friends, we can’t do anything without God. Why do we try to love our lives without making Him a priority??

*Please don’t feel like I’m trying to be holier-than-thou with this one!! I’ll be the first to admit that I try to put God in a box that I carry through life instead of letting Him guide my life. We’re *all* a work in progress :)*

4.)  Remember to Crawl.

Because if you can’t crawl, you can’t walk. And if you can’t walk, you can’t run. And if you can’t run, you’ll never fly.

Yes, I know, I sound like Captain Obvious tripped and landed on a glitter-covered motivational poster. But give me chance with this one.

Because, you see, if you’re anything like me, you’re really good at dreaming up long-term plans–but then we get frustrated that we have to wait to cross it off of our list of accomplishments.

My freshman year of college, I developed a habit by accident/procrastination that i actually still use today: the art of comprehensive, meticulous list-making.

  • Make bed. []
  • Finish homework. []
  • Count silverware. []
  • Wash light clothes. []
  • Wash dark clothes. []
  • Shave right leg. []
  • Shave left leg… []

*At this point, I would like to tell you I’m kidding…I’m not. All of these and more have been on my to-do list.*

Because, honestly? It helps me. Doing the baby steps–the things that seem so insignificant–and being able to cross them off of my list makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, even if it’s minute.

I categorize and then subcategorize to-do lists.

I make lists for day-to-day tasks.

I makes weekly to-do lists.

I have a list of things to do for our wedding.

A list of what bills to pay and by when.

A list of things I want to accomplish this month/year/etc.

A list of books I want to read.

A list of painting ideas.

This list goes on and on. And, sometimes, I literally am just crawling through the check-off boxes on the list.

But other times, I fly through them. 

                                    

List-making keeps me grounded when my mind soars to my future goals, but it also is a tangible way for me to feel like I’m progressing.

And progress makes me happy.

BONUS TIP! Don’t Take Life So Seriously.

Seriously, people. Life is both too short and too long to be serious all of the time.

If you’re reading this, the odds are pretty great that you’re either:

A.) a college student

B.) my mom/dad

C.) a friend of my mom/dad

So, let’s target you college kids.

Yes, college is hard. And, yes, figuring out what you’re doing with your life can be even harder. But you know what?

You’re only this age once.

I know I’m heavy with the clichés today, but I really hope you’re reading them with an open heart because they’re true!

We don’t need to have the future figured out. Because we have now.

We have this time to dream and create and explore. We have this time to learn and fail and grow. We have this time to adapt and start over. This time to feel stuck and still keep moving forward, day by day, little by little.

                                  

And you know what the secret to loving life really is?

Your attitude.

(last cliché, I promise.)
original artwork by Brook Rakow. Photo Courtesy of Taylor Schulz Photography

We can’t control much in this crazy world. And we’re not suppose to. James 4:14 says,

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

If that doesn’t make you feel like the Who’s in Whoville, I don’t know what will.

We can make plans, but God has the ultimate say in things. And, honestly, I prefer it that way.

Sure, it would be nice to know what the future holds. It would be incredible to at least have a general direction half of the time.

But it really is more about the journey than the destination, isn’t it? (ugh, sorry…the clichés are just flowing tonight).

And YOU: mom, dad, mom and dad’s friends–

You’ve been around the block a few more times. But maybe you feel stuck in life too. Maybe you feel like you never really figured out what you were doing with your life.

It’s not too late! It never is.

Find your dream and pursue it.

Can we not get caught up comparing our journeys and our progress to the people next to us? Or, worse, the people perfectly preserved on our screens?

 Let’s live intentionally, making the most of every crazy/stressful/uncertain moment we’re blessed to live.


Let’s love life a little more. 🙂

br

P.S. wow. 2151 words. THANK YOU for reading this far!! Let me know your thoughts on my lengthiest post *ever!*

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