8 Ways to Live a More Conscious Life
By: Carli Ashley
In the hustle and bustle of today’s world we are bombarded with an abundance of expectations; expectations from our culture, families, co-workers, social media, and ourselves. These expectations tend to overshadow our true selves. How do we separate the expectations we are surrounded with on a daily basis from what we truly desire and believe? The answer is simple: figure out what you truly want and live with only that purpose. The practice however, isn’t as simple.
Living a more conscious life means that you are actively evaluating your decisions, social circle and self and then making deliberate choices based on what will serve your health, goals and values. Living consciously is living in a way that is for yourself. The negative stigma that comes with being “selfish” needs to be reframed to express a conscious life that in turn will serve a greater purpose.
Make reflecting part of your lifestyle
For the past few months I have made more lists than I can count. I highly recommend making lists in order to reflect. So often we incorporate external factors into what we believe will fulfill us; leaving us to believe that we are fulfilled when we are not, or unfulfilled when we are.
The first list I recommend making part of your lifestyle of self-reflection is what your values are. Next, rate your values in order of importance. No one will see this and it is your time to be as candid and honest as you can be. Do the same for what makes you happy/unhappy and what you want your life to look like in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years.
Leave these lists for at least one week, then revisit them. Determine whether you need to adjust or add to them. Repeat as necessary and make this part of your lifestyle moving forward. Once you feel confident in your lists, it’s time to evaluate.
2. Evaluate your life and make deliberate choices
It’s time to rate the things in your life, for example your job, relationships, friendships, fitness, social life, financial situation, etc. Determine whether these things provide you with satisfaction, make you happy or coincide with your values. If they do not, it’s time to either change them or get rid of them. Recognizing when something is no longer beneficial to you and, when possible, removing it from your life is the key to living a conscious life.
This does not mean that if you’re unhappy in your career and actually want to be travelling the world that you should quit your job, pack a bag and head to the airport. Although that may sound great, it’s not a conscious decision. Evaluate why your career does not make you happy and begin looking for one that checks all the right boxes. It will take time to transition into something that you’re happy in, but you’d be amazed at what just the action itself can accomplish.
3. Surround yourself with support, positivity and respect
This falls into the category of evaluating your life and making deliberate choices. However, I felt separating it and giving it the attention it deserves is incredibly important. If a friendship or relationship no longer aligns with the lists you created, ask yourself if it is something that can be worked on or if you need to call it quits. Living a conscious life is incredibly difficult when you are constantly helping everyone else accomplish their goals and become better people, but not allowing yourself to direct any of that energy toward yourself. Remember, there is a difference between supporting those in your life and allowing their problems to drain energy that could otherwise be helping you reach a new level.
4. Reflect on how your life affects the world around you
You should also look outward and determine how your decisions, goals and values impact the world. For argument sake, I’ll use a pretty extreme example, but it should get the point across: if one of your values is convenience and you have decided to live your life full of plastic single use products to achieve this, you may be accomplishing what is important to you, however you’re not serving the world. Living a conscious life goes beyond ourselves and ensuring decisions you may be making are not in direct conflict with major issues or the rights of those around you.
5. Make conscious purchases
Think before you buy. This could mean ensuring it aligns with your financial situation and goals, or doing your research to find out if what you’re buying is ethically and sustainably sourced. I am an admitted shopaholic. However, it took falling into a fairly awful financial situation to realize what I actually needed to purchase versus what I wanted to purchase. It was during this financial struggle that I made the discovery of reusable products (cost effective in the long run and good on the environment) and second hand shopping (good on the wallet and sustainable).
6. Conduct a time audit
You have 24 hours in a day, how are you using them? If you have determined you want to get fit or start a side hustle but you have no time, it’s time to discover how you’re really spending the day. Set out your ideal daily schedule. Be realistic and factor in your sleep, eat and travel time. Do not set yourself up for failure by scheduling two exercise classes, building an empire, getting 10 hours of sleep, eating healthy, spending hours at the park with your dog, and calling your grandmother for an hour long chat. For a few weeks be conscious in your daily routine, turn off auto pilot and discover how long it really takes you to do things. Take note and use this to build a daily routine that will allow you to reach all your goals while still enjoying the things that make you the most happy.
7. Determine your personal boundaries
Personal boundaries are the things you recognize do not serve your mental and/or physical health. For example, a personal boundary that I have recently added is that it is not my responsibility to help everyone. For too long I stretched myself thin making sure everyone around me was satisfied and comfortable in life, except this didn’t really help them because they began to rely on me and it certainly didn’t help me because I was dedicating all my energy outward instead of inward which stunted my personal growth. Like the previous lists, re-evaluate this on an ongoing basis and adjust as necessary.
8. Make plans and take action
It’s time to make a plan and take action. The lists you’ve created and your support system will help you accomplish this step. Keep in mind that you’ve already done all the work to set yourself up for success and putting the plan in motion is actually the easiest part.
Carli is a young professional from Toronto, Ontario. She is passionate about feminism, the law and the arts. She is supportive of anything inspiring, motivational and inclusive. In her spare time she loves to read, write and explore the outdoors with her dog, Opal. Carli hopes that her contributions to Seek Minimal will inspire people to be more accepting of themselves and others.