by: E.B. Johnson
In this digital age, it’s easy to become detached from the people and things that really matter in life. Our schedules are hectic, busy and packed full of personal and professional tasks that swallow us up and then spit us out on the other side feeling empty, exhausted and often lost and looking for meaning.
Living a life that is whole and joyful requires a certain intentionality. Our culture is one that encourages selfishness, but it is also one that constantly tells us that we aren’t enough. By living intentionally and in the moment, we can reconnect with that deeper part of ourselves that resonates with our higher truth. Finding this truth takes commitment, however, and it means having a why. Discover your why and start living an intentional life by getting to the root of what it means to be you.
What does it mean to live “intentionally”?
You might have heard the term “intentional living” before, but chances are you’re still not quite sure what that means. An intentional life looks different depending who you are, and what you want; and it can look vastly different over time as your needs and desires change.
To live intentionally means learning how to make better decisions for you. It means choosing to live in a manner that aligns with your sense of self and your sense of purpose — and above all it means finding meaning in the chaos that is modern living.
Creating an intentional life allows you to create a roadmap that poises you for success. When you shift from living in a state of flux, and focus on finding your center you can get from where you are to where you want to be.
This doesn’t mean you have to start adhering to a rigid schedule, or start running every morning at 5AM. It simply means creating a flexible plan that works for you and understanding that the only thing permanent in this life is change.
Why it’s important to create an intentional life.
Living with purpose is an art and, like all art, it takes some time and commitment to master. Creating a life that’s filled with purpose is critical, however, in order to enrich our experience. When you live an intentional life, you live a life in which you matter. Living intentionally offers a plethora of benefits — not least of which is reconnecting with that deeper and more meaningful part of yourself — and each of them add up to enhance the experience of our lives little-by-little.
It makes you happier.
Learning how to lead our lives with purpose and meaning allows us to tap into a certain power that creates monumental change in our lives.
Intentional living means living that’s based around our wants and our needs, and no matter how you square that away that means amplified happiness, as well as a greater joy in the day-to-day circumstances that compose our everyday.
You gain a better understanding of your needs.
Living a life that’s intentionally guided by the things that fulfill you will allow you to gain a better understanding of what it is you need to be happy, as well as what it is you need to live your most efficient life.
In order to create an intentional existence, we have to sit down and analyze who we are and what we want from life. Intentionally living forces us to come to terms with the issues we have in life and reassess who we are and the baggage that forces us to contradict our innermost nature.
It motivates you.
Intentional living is a great motivator due to it’s inherent focus on the experiences that create meaning. When you create a life that is defined by your own actions (or inactions) you create a life that is abundantly full of the things that interest you and spark your passions. And who doesn’t want that kind of a life?
Living an intentional life motivates us to take immediate action, and it inspires us to do so in areas that are of great import. Intentional living can shape everything from our friendships to our romantic relationships, as well as the way we interact with our pets. It’s a transformative motivator that trickles down into every corner of our lives.
You’re better able to weigh what matters and what doesn’t.
Purposeful living offers a shortcut into weighing the things that matter against the things that don’t.
Our commercialized society has a tendency to push the superficial, and when we get caught up in that we lose sight of the real truths of life, as well as the things that actually add to our limited experience here.
Looking at life from a new perspective lends itself to helping us weight the things that matter against the things that don’t, shedding what doesn’t serve us, and focusing instead on the things that help us to grow.
It gives you clarity.
One of the most powerful benefits of living an intentional life is the clarity it grants when it comes to make decisions. When you’re mired in the boggy muck of modern life, it can be easy to lose direction and even easier to lose sight of the things you need in order to feel happy and well.
Living intentionally, however, offers the benefit of a heightened sense of clarity and awareness that can really help spark opportunities in our lives that we never considered before.
The best ways to lead an intentional life (every single day).
Creating a life that is full of intention and happiness is not something that happens overnight, nor is it something that takes a gargantuan overhaul of every aspect of your life. Rather, creating a life that is intentional requires you to make little changes every day, which add up over time to create a happier and more harmonious existence for you and those you love as well.
Step 1: Lay your foundations.
Changes happens in ages and in phases and going from a reactive life to an intentional life is no different. Creating the existence you want is like building a home. The first thing you need to do is lay the foundations, and that takes looking inward and getting familiar with the reality of who you are and what you need.
Accept that your life is composed of choices.
Each day, we are confronted with a series of decisions that come together to create our here and now. Every morning, we get the chance to choose who we are and how we are going to respond to the stressors around us.
Realize and accept that life is composed entirely of choices; big and small, hard and easy. You make the choice to stay stuck in the same patterns, or you make the choice to break them. Creating an intentional life is all about spotting those patterns, and making the conscious decision to break them by intentionally choosing to make a better choice.
While society might tell us that circumstance dictates that passage of our lives, that’s not true. We — as much as anyone else around us — have control over how the future plays out, and we have just as much right to control our own destinies as fate.
Evaluate your environment.
We are not islands. We are surrounded by active, vibrant events and people every single day, and we are impacted by those events and those people (even if we don’t allow them to control our thoughts or emotions). Life isn’t lived in a vacuum.
You have to evaluate your environment and analyze it for the things that bring you joy and the things that bring you toxins and baggage. Not all experiences are created the same, and not all of them add to our time here on Earth.
Take a step back and take some time to evaluate who you are and where you’re going. Where is the stream of your life directing you at this moment in time? Is it taking you in the direction you want to travel? Does the road you’re on lead to enlightenment, happiness, or security in any facet?
These are the questions you have to ask yourself before you can make the leap into intentional living. You have to be brutally honest, though, and you have to be true to your authentic self.
Perform a self-exam.
Take some time getting to know who you are — separate from the kids, or the job or the things you think should define you. Stand honestly and openly before yourself and shine light on all those parts you keep hidden. Who are you really? If you can’t answer that, you can’t set the course. Perform a self-exam and get to know who the real you is.
Get yourself alone in a safe and quiet space, then take some time to look within. Close your eyes, and let your thoughts come to your freely and unabashedly as they are with none of the “societal filters” we often apply in our normal day-to-day circumstances.
Consider your passions, the things you do well, and the things you don’t do so well. Think about all the times you succeed, thanks to your own merits, and think about all the times you failed and how that impacted you. Take the time to get to know (intimately) what your abilities and weaknesses are. It takes energy to get to know yourself, but it’s critical in order to secure your mental and physical wellbeing. Know yourself. It’s an invaluable breadth of knowledge to have.
Step 2: Get practical.
Once you’ve got a grip on who you are and what you want, it’s time to start putting your intentions to work and creating a life you can be proud of. There are a thousand little ways you can start to change the direction of your life. The style you choose is entirely up to you. All that matters is that you start living intentionally, and you start doing it soon. This one life is too precious to waste waiting on the hands of fate to show you which way to go.
Make the conscious decision to live life on your own terms.
It’s not easy to live life on your own terms, especially in this social media age. We are forced to compare ourselves to one another like never before, and it can often cause us to lose sight of the fact that it is our differences that make us strong.
You have to make the conscious decision to live your own life each and every day, and you have to take conscious steps to make that a reality. Once you’ve figured out what matters to you, kick your inner critic to the curb and start following your heart (and your head) where they guide you.
Cut out the toxic people who try to control you or tell you that you “can’t”, and take responsibility for your own happiness by doing and being the things that bring you joy. What other people think of you is none of your business. Make the conscious decisions to live your own life every single day and you’ll be that much happier for the choices that you have.
Define your purpose and go after it.
After getting a better grip on who you are and what you want, you need to define your purpose and go after it with everything that you’ve got. Define what it is you want to communicate through your words, decisions and actions. Clearly identify also what it is you want to contribute to the world around you. You’ve got to give your life meaning to find meaning in your life. Pick a purpose and go after it like a dog on the scent. No one is stopping you but yourself.
Master the art of goal-setting.
If an intentional life is all about going after the things that we want, then we have to understand how to achieve those things systematically and efficiently.
Just rushing headlong into the dark is no way to reach our dreams. While that kind of dumb and blind ambition works from time-to-time, it leads to more heartbreak in the long run. That’s why it’s important to master the art of goal setting and know how to get the things you want when you want them.
Our goals shape us and they give our life direction. Set goals that are in-line with both your values and your purpose. Align yourself with the behaviors that allow you to manifest the things you want from your life. Write down a list of the things you want, then write down some steps that can help you systematically get there.
Shy away from creating too many goals, and always be realistic about the things you set out to achieve. While ambition is beautiful, setback is a hard obstacle to overcome — so know how much disappointment you can bear to stand ahead of time and set your goals accordingly.
Reaching for the stars is one thing, lassoing the moon another. Know what you need and what you can achieve. There is a difference; it’s all about how you get there.
Stay focused on the things that matter.
Because we’re constantly to connected to everyone and everything, we’re constantly distracted. These distractions don’t just make us late for work or those cocktails with the girls, they set us back in severe ways and fog up the lens through which we see ourselves and our place in the world.
Learn to drop the distractions and stay focused on the things that make your soul sing. The things that rob you of your time are the things that rob you of your future. Drop what you don’t need and try to stay grounded around the things that actually matter.
Recall your past mistakes, but don’t dwell there.
In order to figure out where you are or where you’re going, you have to figure out where you’ve been. If you’re looking to start living life on your own terms, you have to start by looking at your past — but, you have to do it in a way that doesn’t keep you attached, emotional or fearful.
The things that happen in our pasts define, in many ways, who we are.
Consider what elements of your history keep you chained to the opinion of others and do what you can to unravel those hangups. Think about what you tried in the past to achieve your goals and think about the way you reacted when those things didn’t go to plan.
Recall all the things that worked and all the things that didn’t work, paying especially close attention to triggers and stumbling blocks that set you back or left you disappointed. Once you’ve got all that in sight, you can trace a better path forward — working with a new blueprint that allows you to see what works, what doesn’t and what pitfalls to avoid.
Putting it all together…
You have to start living an intentional life and you have to start doing it today. Living with purpose allows us to unlock the buried potential that lies within each of us, and tap into the true power of our desires and needs. When we lead a life that is intentionally our own, we make ourselves happier and give ourselves the clarity we need to thrive in any environment. Living intentionally does take time, but it doesn’t take a huge overhaul. Instead, it takes a few simple steps each and every day, in order to manifest the things we need to create our own joy.
Accept that life is nothing more than a series of choices, and that you have a say in these choices. Evaluate your environment for sources of toxicity and always be sure to perform a self-exam to get to the root of what you want and why you want it. We have to make the conscious decision to live an intentional life every single day. It doesn’t just happen. Start making that choice today by letting go of your past and stepping confidently into your future. You’re the only one who can change your life, but the decision has to start here.