On December 21, 2017, our friend passed. She was 45, the Maid of Honor in our wedding and my wife’s best friend. She battled cancer for a decade and defied all odds. She was the toughest fighter I’ve ever met. Her husband of nearly 20 years was by her side every step of the way. He’s the embodiment of, “in sickness and in health,” and I know will lead his family through this.
Generally, New Year’s resolutions focus on areas we want to improve: losing weight, paying off debt, spending more time with family. But our friend’s passing brought to life a far more important resolution: to live intentionally. Phrases like carpe diem, YOLO (you only live once) and be in the moment capture the spirit of living intentionally yet, years have a way of passing us by.
So how do you avoid letting 2018 pass you by? How do you live intentionally when funds are tight?
In honor of our friend — who by any definition lived intentionally — here are 8 ways to live in 2018 (on a budget):
Travel intentionally. You can do this on $200 for a staycation or $1,000 for places within a drive. Start with a budget. Then, make tradeoffs on the three areas that make up 80% of travel expenses: transportation, lodging and food. Find all the places within a 6 hour drive. If you must fly, use Kayak, Southwest and Google Flights to compare options and save. For lodging, consider naming your price on priceline or finding an airbnb with a kitchen. Go for three days instead of four. Pack snacks throughout the day. The trip does not need to be your dream trip. Traveling intentionally is taking time for the smaller excursions as you build to larger adventures.
Estimated cost: $200–1,000
Time: 1–4 days
- Spring picnicWatch rebirth intentionally.
It will get warmer. Days will last longer. Spring is coming and flowers will bloom. Take advantage and spend an afternoon at the park during the first warm weekend. Take a friend, spouse, cousin, neighbor, child, dog. Take anyone who wants to watch rebirth intentionally that afternoon. Pack your picnic, feel the sun, and enjoy the day.
Estimated cost: $25
Time: 3 hours
- Concert and Events
Embrace the arts intentionally. Listen and feel the passion of your favorite singer. Cheer emphatically for your favorite team. Change your reality for a few moments at a live play or movie. Go to google and type, ‘free concerts [enter your city]’ to get a list of free options. Eat at home before going. Use seatgeek or stubhub to find deals.
Estimated cost: $100
Time: 3 hours
- Board Games
Play intentionally. Start a game today. To start, don’t ask others what they want to play. You choose and let them join in. Games like Monopoly, Beat the Parents and Sequence bring friends and family physically together. Newer, online games such as Words with Friends and Minecraft allow you to connect virtually. Games like chess allow you play over time. And simple, ongoing puzzles allow you to build together. If your first idea doesn’t work, try another game. Play intentionally and others will join.
Expected cost: $30
Time: 1–3 hours
- Neighborhood potluck
Build community intentionally. Organize a community potluck. Find 1 or 2 neighbors to help with the logistics. Use evite or nextdoor to send invites and communicate. Distribute flyers a few days before. Be the first there. Recruit a few teens to clean up afterwards. Be deliberate about meeting as many people as you can. Build community with food.
Expected cost: $30
Time: 4–8 hours (including planning)
- Giving back
Give back intentionally. Become a camp counselor. Serve food or deliver meals for families in need. Be a mentor. Search for volunteer opportunities in your city on VolunteerMatch, Give Gab and Just Serve. Select one option for a few hours. Meet others with similar passion. If you like it, do more. If not, try another opportunity. Don’t make a long term commitment until you’re ready. Volunteer for a day or a week. Give back and change lives.
Expected cost: Free
Time: 3 hours — 1 week
Learn intentionally. Pick up a second language. Take a crack at learning how to code. Build basic skills to repair items around the house or redo a bathroom. Sites including Udemy, Lynda and Coursera offer free or incredibly low cost courses on a range of skills. Khan Academy can help you brush up on core skills such as probability/statistics or basic math. Smart Passive Income and I Will Teach You to be Rich can help you get a headstart as an entrepreneur in the digital world. You can even take free online courses from the top schools including Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford. Resources — especially free resources — are abundant. You do not need $80,000 of student loans to learn intentionally. Instead, you need time and discipline.
Expected cost: $100
Time: 2 days — 2 weeks
Love intentionally. Spend time with an elder in your life. It could be a parent, uncle/ aunt or simply a friend in your community. Pick them up, grab coffee, take a walk and listen. Be intentional about how you make them feel. We rarely say “I spent too much time with them” when a loved one passes. Instead, it’s the opposite. We wish we had one more day. We wish we could have one more conversation. Often, elders battle social isolation and lack of meaning. You can help by loving intentionally. Make it happen.
Expected cost: $20
Time: 2–4 hours
Living intentionally is less about what you do and more about simply doing. All of these have different costs. Some won’t work for you in 2018. Some will. We’re constantly telling clients that their financial situation is temporary. Live intentionally given your situation today. Graduate to more options in 2019. Our friend’s passing is a poignant reminder to my family that time is limited.In 2018 take time to live, breath, and be present.Happy New Year from SmartPath.
How else can you live intentionally in 2018?