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I noticed a couple of months ago that I was wondering how to live with intention because I felt like I hadn’t been living in the moment for years. I just lived for the weekend and didn’t do much on the actual weekend because I was tired all the time. I didn’t really enjoy my life as I should have.
Do you recognize yourself in this? This is basically where intentional living comes in. But what exactly is intentional living? This could be a slightly bit different for everyone, but it’s basically reflecting on your life, noticing what your values and passions are, and then trying to create the life you desire in order to make you feel more fulfilled and happy.
What Is Intentional Living?
Intentional living is asking yourself why you do things and then noticing how it makes you feel. If you’re unhappy with what you see and feel, make changes accordingly.
You should know that intentional living isn’t a one-time choice. It should become a way of life, something you keep doing throughout your life, and every decision should be made intentionally. This might sound a bit overwhelming, but I promise once you learn how to listen to yourself and your whys, it’s not that hard.
How Does Intentional Living Look Like?
This could be different for everyone, but it could look like evaluating your friendships, setting goals you actually care about, getting in a mentally and physically happy place to live in the moment, evaluating your relationship with your partner, creating good habits, etc.
How To Live With Intention In 5 Steps
Researching Your Whys
To get you started, it’s important to first investigate your whys. The why behind the things you do. Some questions you could ask yourself are:
- Why did you choose your career/job?
- Why are you working late?
- Why are you with your partner?
- Why are your friends your friends?
- Why did you buy *insert something*?
- Why don’t you work out, or why do you do the sport that you do?
- Why are you eating junk food/ why are you eating healthy?
Here are a couple more questions that are diving a bit deeper:
- How do I view good vs. evil + why?
- What am I passionate about + why?
- What are my priorities + why?
- How attached am I to money + why?
- What’s your dream job, + why?
Now it’s time to answer these questions in all honesty. The answers to these questions are for your eyes only, so don’t be afraid to be completely honest.
Then read back your answers and notice how they make you feel. Did you struggle to answer some of the questions? Or are the answers confusing? Maybe even conflicting? Do the answers make you happy? Do they make sense?
I noticed when I answered these questions that I didn’t even have a reason for why I did things, or the reason would be something like “because I have to” or “it just happened,” which are reasons without a purpose.
This means I did things without a purpose and because I just felt like I HAD to do it and not because I WANTED to do it. The answers didn’t make me happy; I actually felt a bit sorry for ignoring my values and dreams.
Intentional Living Is NOT About Having Your Life Figured Out
Just because you don’t have the answers to all of these questions just yet or immediately know what you need to do differently (believe me, I’m still struggling with this too!). Just know that you can choose to be intentional about your direction without knowing your final destination. No one has everything figured out, and that’s totally fine. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s fine too.
Define Your Core Values
It all starts with your core values. Your core values are the key to choosing your direction. Everyone’s core values are different. Freedom, Responsibility, Simplicity, and Sustainable, just to name a couple of my own core values.
How did I find them? I noticed that I wasn’t happy with the job I had because I was looking for more responsibility. I didn’t like doing only administrative tasks because I missed being responsible for more impactful tasks, if this makes sense. During my Bachelor’s, I was responsible for my growth and learning, which made me very happy.
Freedom is one of the values I think is very important, and I noticed this when I started blogging. The freedom of doing this anywhere and whenever I wanted made me happy.
I also saw that working for a boss 40+ hours a week in an office wouldn’t make me happy because I felt caged. I also think freedom financially is essential too and something I want to work hard to achieve.
I also notice that the more clutter I have around me, the more stressed and anxious I become. I desire simplicity in the space around me and in my head. I want everything to be organized in order to feel organized, and with having too much stuff around me, it’s hard to feel at peace.
I hope that reading my examples gives you some ideas about what you’re longing for. Even though you might struggle at first, I’m pretty sure you can name a few things you don’t like in your current job, financial situation, hobbies, school, you name it. Think about that struggle or maybe even what those struggles have in common, and you’ll be able to see the core value behind it.
You don’t have to look at the negative things in your life, it could be moments where you were super happy or proud of yourself. Think about why you were happy or proud. What was it that made you feel like that?
Once you have a list of core values (I suggest at least three and not more than seven so you’ll be able to focus on the ones that are the most important to you), you can set yourself up for making choices that match those values.
Learn How To Use Your Core Values
Your core values are your roadmap to help you get to the life you love because you know that these values are the most important to you. Making sure what you do on the outside matches up with what your heart is saying on the inside.
It’s important to read over your values at least once a week and includes a few activities that support those values, even if you don’t have much time. Let’s say you’re not happy with your job right now, but that doesn’t mean you instantly have to quit your job in order to go after your value of Freedom.
Maybe the first step is to think about what job you would like (for example a work-from-home type of job) if you don’t know this yet, it’s essential to start there. The next step could be looking for job positions and sending over your resume. Those smaller steps help you to fulfill your value of Freedom eventually.
I want simplicity in my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to throw out all the stuff I have. It means I’m going through my stuff and throwing out the stuff that doesn’t make me happy. I might be working towards my simplicity value for weeks, if not months, but you know you are working towards something important to you.
Moreover, your core values can be used when making decisions as well. I know I want responsibility in my job, so I’m not going for a 100% administrative job because I know that doesn’t fit my core value and eventually won’t make me happy.
Same as with my value of Sustainability. I think it’s essential to be more sustainable, so if I need to make a decision between cotton pads or reusable pads, I’m going for the reusable pads because they fit my Sustainable value.
Maybe your value is ‘Taking Care Of Myself,’ so you can make the decision to say ‘no’ when your colleague asks you to do something for him/her when you’re already having a lot of work. When you have a tough decision, you can fall back on your core values to evaluate if it’s something you want or don’t want to do.
Know that you can choose to do more of what you love and let go of all the rest.
Re-Evaluate Your Life
Now you know what your core values are and how to use them, it’s time to go over your life. Look at the different areas of your life. What are your priorities? What do you need to re-evaluate in your life to live more intentionally? Take a look at these important parts of your life:
- Your finances — are you an impulse spender? Do you have a budget? If generosity is a priority, are you giving?
- Health — are you being intentional in how you treat your body and mind?
- Responsibility — how are you treating the environment, your belongings, and those around you?
- Relationships — are your relationships healthy or toxic? Are you working on getting to know your friends better daily, or are your relationships superficial?
- Your habits — how are you spending your time? Are there any intentional or positive habits you can include in your day? Or skip any habits that don’t serve you?
It’s easier to change things in your life now you know where to focus to make you happier and live more intentionally. However, I know realizing that a friendship is toxic and you’re better off without them aren’t easy decisions to make.
It’s okay if you need some time to change things around. Take all the time you need but don’t forget your why and values.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Again, intentional living isn’t a one-time choice. It’s making a choice to create new habits, such as working out multiple times a week or finding a new job. Intentional living is getting a grip on your life and turning it into one that you look forward to. This means you have to work for it and keep yourself accountable. How?
- Keep a journal. Write down what you do to match your values, the highs, and the lows, the things you’ve learned, etc.
- Before making a decision, ask yourself, “does this fit into the life I’m trying to live?”
- Get yourself an accountability partner. Find a friend or partner who wants to live intentionally, too, get together with them once or twice a month, and encourage each other to make intentional choices.
Conclusion On Intentional Living
We’re always learning something new, adding a new opinion to our worldview, etc. We’re constantly growing. Because of that, don’t be surprised or worried if some of your values change over time. That’s fine! Just go with it.