October 30, 2019

How I Knew I Needed a Change | Revamp Your Daily Routine

I’m Stephanie Messick, a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Warrenton, VA. Whether I’m by the mountains in Virginia or the ocean on the Florida Gulf Coast, my soul feels right at home, surrounded by rural living and the raw beauty of nature. I genuinely love what I do, and feel so passionate to share the enthusiasm and joy of these celebrations with you!

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After getting married, moving down to Florida, and months of traveling, I found myself asking every night how in the WORLD am I going to overcome this mentality of, “how am I going to get ahead?” Every night, I went to bed feeling behind. Every morning, a flood of to-dos drowned my mind as I scrambled to get out of bed to attend my wife and fur-mom duties. 

“I really need to write that blog post … Oh, gosh, I forgot I didn’t get around to responding to that email from yesterday. Man, I’m behind on editing and should probably work on that before I write today’s blog. But let me do the dishes and a quick load of laundry so I can start the day on a clean note! Welp, I guess there isn’t time for the gym with all of these to-dos! But I haven’t worked out in a week… I’ll just go tomorrow!” 

Does any of these sound familiar? Maybe not the blogging and editing, but I’m sure you can swap some of these tasks with your own daily to-dos. Does this day sound intentional at all? After sitting back and self-reflecting on those long car rides to and from Virginia/Florida, I decided enough was enough.

You see, it’s so easy for us to drown ourselves in our to-dos and I don’t really think that will disappear for me, considering that entrepreneurship involves wearing many, many hats. That’s okay! But what’s not okay is the mentality I had going in and out of every day. I wanted to end the day thinking, “today was a day with intention!” When we allow our to-dos to fog our minds, we aren’t taking control of our day. Instead, our lists are controlling how we think and what matters the most in our life for that day when they really don’t hold high value! Think about your core values, like religion and family, for instance. When you end your day, did these values play an intentional part of your day? I italicized “intentional” because, sure, you might have been around your significant other but did you actually spend quality time with him/her or did you hang out on your phone? These are the things we need to consider from day-to-day because your values make you, YOU. When I think back to Alex and my first date, I knew what values I wanted in my future husband. Everyone has unique or similar values instilled, but it’s important that we are tuned into them. 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. More so, I’ve been listening to a LOT of Podcasts. Considering 15-hours on the road between Florida and Virginia, there’s a lot of time to soak up knowledge! Haha! Between Bigger Pockets, Amy and Jordan, The Mary Marantz Show, Christy Wright’s Business Boutique, and Rachel Hollis’ Rise Podcasts, there has been a common theme to personal success I’ve been picking up from them. DAILY ROUTINE.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I cannot believe all of this time, I was craving STRUCTURE and ROUTINE in my life!! Why do we need this? Their podcasts simplified it to this … We are programmed with habits. Whether they are good or bad habits, they make up how we run our days. But do you know who has control of these habits? US. Amy and Jordan did a podcast about routine, which initially made my wheels turn. Other podcasts like Bigger Pockets with Brandon Turner and the Mary Marantz Show, all said that habits allow us to go through our day preserving energy because our bodies instinctually go to that mode. They gave the example of Simon Cowell for wearing the same black shirt every day — Very predictable. On the flipside, predictable is actually GOOD! There’s no energy consumed at the start of the day because he can save that energy for saying “yes” or “no” to other important things throughout the day. It might be challenging at first to start a new routine because it will take more energy, but once it becomes a habit, you will find so much more satisfaction with your days!

After many hours of soaking in this information and analyzing my day-to-day lifestyle, I decided to not wait until the New Year, but instead take action NOW. How did I do so? Well, to be honest, this only just started yesterday (HAHA!), but I cannot tell you how much happier I am to know that I am the one running the show of my day instead of my to-do list!!! There is so much more freedom and I am excited to see my new routine develop into good habits so I am healthier, mentally and physically, not just for myself, but for my husband, dog, and future family.

So, I hope you are wondering how you can take control of your life. First, identify what means the most in your life! Make sure you write a short list of your core values somewhere as a reminder. These are things like … God, Marriage, Family/Friends, Health, and Work. I like what Amy and Jordan mentioned on one of their podcasts — How do those core values reflect on your calendar? Just food for thought!! Second, ask yourself, “HOW can I integrate these values into my daily routine?” For instance, my first core value is God. I decided to start my day with a 45-minute daily devotional/reading time. This personal reading time is with a devotional, my Bible, and a current book. I did a great job with my daily devotions every morning last year, but because it wasn’t carved out of my day to have that quiet time with God, I found myself sneaking in a quick read while I ate breakfast. I thought it was “good enough” (considering how busy I was), but it wasn’t intentional at all. What it comes down to is if it is important to you, you can make it happen. To me, that meant I needed to wake up earlier in order to make it happen. Even though I’m not a morning person at all, my new routine has me excited to wake up and start my day with personal time before I start giving myself to other people. Doesn’t that sound nice? Personal time!!! Many of us don’t think it’s possible, and in the circumstances like Alex, he is just struggling to fit in sleep with his crazy work hours. But some of us don’t think we have the time (*I was guilty!*). Really though, if we mold our day with a routine, I bet you will surprise yourself just like me! 🙂 I believe it was Amy and Jordan who said if you say you don’t have time to go to the gym, you’re really saying working out isn’t that important to me. So it’s important to ask yourself what you can do to make that time happen. 🙂

On the first day of my new routine, I opened my daily devotional to read:

“Linger in my presence for a while. Rein in your impulses to plunge into the day’s activities. Beginning your day alone with Me is essential preparation for success. A great athlete takes time to prepare himself mentally for the feat ahead of him before he moves a muscle. Similarly, your time of being still in My Presence equips you for the day ahead of you. Only I know what will happen to you this day. I have arranged the events you will encounter as you go along your way. If you are not adequately equipped for the journey, you will grow weary and lose heart. Relax with Me while I ready you for action.”

WOW. That was so powerful to read after finally feeling like this is what I need. Not only was I craving for routine, but I was also craving for stillness with God! This was a perfect example of why I’m excited to start my day with a cup of hot tea and reading time. 🙂 I’m sure this will just be the first of many examples to come over the weeks and months ahead.

I plan to share my routine with you all soon, but I want to do so after the newness of it wears off and see how it shapes and changes over the weeks ahead. That brings up another point!! Routines change with time. Be flexible because every season of your life might shape your routine a little differently. I know my routine that I feel so proud about will even change next week when Alex switches from night shift to day shift. Or when we eventually settle down to have kids … I’m SURE routines will change on a monthly basis. Haha! But for now, I want you all to join me in this challenge with the Holiday season approaching fast! How can you be the best version of YOU? It circles back to your values!! Enjoy this season of change as you self-reflect what is important to you and how you can be happier because you have instilled those values into your daily lifestyle. 🙂

I feel like the blog has been filled with portrait session after portrait session and wedding after wedding, but this was really weighing on my heart that I felt needed to be shared! The fall season is a beautiful season of change and I believe you don’t need to make a change once the New Year hits. Change can happen now. And what better time to start than now. <3

Photos by Annamarie Akins and Kryst Norman <3

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