NEXT: Go to Lesson 5

Lesson 4 Transcript | 3 Min. Read

Welcome back to Lesson 4! You’re doing it! Little by little, step by step, you’re cultivating your life. It feels great, doesn’t it?

Have you ever heard the quote, “Wherever your feet are, be there?”

Well, let me tell you a story: Once in my quest for productivity, I parked my car without ever putting my car in park. Yes, I was rushing so urgently to reach my next destination, absolutely certain if I didn’t make it there in time my entire life would crash down—and I forgot to pay attention to where my feet should have been - on the brake pedal - and instead the only thing that crashed was my car into a curb, nearly taking it with me.

I was the most productive person I knew. Constantly running from one thing to the next. I wanted to do everything for everyone as often as I could. Noble, but not sustainable. My favorite phrases were “Yes, of course I can do that!” and “I’m so overwhelmed.” The first one usually preceded the second one, in case you had any doubt.  You can see where this is going.

Maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe your to-do list every day absolutely overwhelms you. Perhaps it’s “hammering you into the ground” as they say, and you don’t know how to stop it. Maybe you feel like you’re doing SO. many. things. but you never have time to do anything well or to savor the sweetness of your life. You want something different—you want to be productive each day, yes, but you also want to feel purpose. You want to know the things you’re doing with your time every day actually matter.

Friend, I have news for you. Mastering your lengthy to-do list won’t make you feel better and it won’t make you feel more productive. Because it’s often not about how much is on your to-do list. Sometimes you’re just plugging away at the wrong list.

Because you’re here, that tells me something about you: you want to fill your days with the things that matter—the things that will matter when you’re 80, 90, 100! Not just on everything and every request that feels urgent. And you’re ready to make it happen.

So far you’ve identified what matters, broken it down into a 90-day window, scheduled some key days where you’ll work on those things, and even created weekly rhythms to help you live it out.

And now, we’re going to plan your ideal day. You might need to pause the video a few times to write your answers—that’s ok! Take all the time you need.

Are you ready? Let’s do it.

First up, look back at your work from Lesson 3 where you wrote your ideal weekly rhythm and decide what does (and doesn't) matter to you on an ideal day. Sleeping in? Early morning quiet time? Going for a walk? Reading a book? A slow commute? Write this down in your workbook or in your Season By Season. Keep in mind: when we say yes and no, we are making decisions. So if you say yes to a slow commute each morning, you might be saying no to a home cooked breakfast. Each time you say no to one thing gives you the opportunity to say yes to something better, but it's important to make sure your yeses and no's are clearly defined. 

A bit of advice: as you think through your ideal day, make sure you stay true to yourself. In the same way your YES + NO list might look different than someone else's, it's important to remember that your cultivated day might look different, too! Resist the urge to create a cultivated day just because you feel like it "should" look that way. If you prefer to get moving first thing in the mornings, it probably won't make sense for you to schedule an hour of cozying up coffee and a blanket. Do what works best for you! Pause this video and come back when you’re finished outlining your ideal day. 

Next, examine the “bookends” of your day. No matter how hard we try, our days will always only have 24 hours in them, and an important step in creating a cultivated day is to examine your habits at the beginning and end of each day. Establishing productive morning and evening routines will not only create consistency and help you cultivate important habits, but it will also ensure you feel ready to tackle the things that come up during your day—because unexpected things will pop up, right? Knowing your days begin and end well helps a lot with the natural ebb and flow of our days because you can’t control it all.  

Here are some helpful questions and tips to get you started:

  • What are you already doing in your mornings and evenings that work for you?
  • How can you do them better? Meaning, what habits can you add or subtract to your current morning and evening routines to make space for things that matter.
  • You can even get detailed with this and write out your ideal cultivated morning and evening routines and the times you’d like to complete them. That might look like, “6:00am - Go for a walk. 6:30am - Read something inspirational. 7:00am - Make breakfast.” that kind of thing. Getting clear on what you want to accomplish in these times will help you stick to your plan, so you can be as detailed as you want here.
  • A bit of advice, some habit experts suggest starting with small tweaks to your current routine because the best habits still work on your hardest days. Consider developing habits for days that are typically longer or more challenging, and some you want to cultivate on easier, lighter days, too.

This is a lot to think about, so pause this video and write it out. Then come back, and we’ll walk you through the next step.

Next, think through specific times of your day that you love—and also the ones you don’t love. 

  • Do you feel energized or depleted after meetings?
  • Do you enjoy taking your lunch hour slow, or do you like to eat on the run?
  • Do you like to listen to podcasts or music on your commute, or do you prefer to call a loved one with that margin?
  • Do you like to nap when the kids are napping, or does doing a load of laundry in the quiet time help you clear your mind?

There is no right answer to any of these questions, they’re just intended to get you started. And remember, try your best to cultivate YOUR ideal day, not the one you THINK you should have. The key to living a cultivated life is that it’s simple, it’s life-giving and it helps you use your finite number of hours on this earth well, so don’t get caught up in the “shoulds”. Be ruthlessly honest about what matters to you, and write those things down.

Now, you might be thinking: “you have no idea how many things I have on my list every day. How am I supposed to make time for one more thing?” You’re right, I don’t know what you have on your list, but consider this: a load of laundry might not sound like an eternally important thing right now, but if it’s connected to loving your family well, providing for them, and equipping them for a life well lived, an ordinary pile of laundry can transform into a heartfelt act of love.

So, now, with that in mind, in your workbook or in your Season by Season, write out specific times of day that you particularly love, and, yes, even the ones you don't. As you write these times down, think through how you can add or subtract to these time to make them matter most.

Pause this video if you need to.

Alright, here’s your last step to planning your most purposeful day: equip yourself with the right tools.

In the same way, you wouldn’t make a pie without the filling, the same is true for creating a cultivated day. Use your planner for all the things. Schedule in commutes, work meetings, drop-off and pick-up times, and yes, all of those things that really matter! Take all of the things you’ve written so far, and physically place them in their proper places on each day. What we schedule gets done, so write it down. Even if you think it’s too small or insignificant to deserve a place on your daily spread, it’s not. Here’s what I mean: every week I write “Call Mom” on my planner. One would think calling my mom would be an ordinary thing that doesn’t need a home in print. But, I found that making phone calls to my loved ones was something that got pushed to the backburner. I always thought, “I’ll do that tomorrow.” But, tomorrow never came. So write it down. Schedule it out. Make time in print for the things that matter.

Remember in Lesson 2, I asked you if a stranger, looking at your calendar, would be able to tell what really matters to you? This is a chance to live that out.

So your homework for this lesson is to plan one week purposefully. You can do more if you’d like, but 7 days is a great start. 

We’ll see you in the next lesson!