Intentional living is the purposeful activity of spending your personal resources (time, energy, money, etc) on the things that most align with your well-defined goals and values.
By determining what is most important to you, you can build your daily life in a manner that leads you to achieve and experience those very things. It’s more than dreaming of a different life; it’s a daily, disciplined, intentional practice of working towards making it a reality.
If you do not live intentionally, time will pass and energy will be spent – somewhere. You may have little account or awareness for how it was used. While some things will be accomplished, many things will be missed, neglected or forgotten. Quite possibly, your daily activity will have had little to do with things you aspire to and dream of doing.
However, if you wake up in the morning with intentional awareness, it’s a different mindset than an autopilot mode. You will be present, knowing what you want to accomplish in the day and why it’s important. You can set and act on plans for how to achieve them, and measure your milestones and progress. This will be the result of knowing why these goals are important in the immediate and broader context of you life.
Some goals will be short term – perhaps intended to be achieved within the day. Other goals are processes that will be reached over time. And some will become habits that characterize your whole lifestyle. These all need to be consciously mapped so you can plan the journey, from your starting point to your hopeful destination.
When you live by this applied mindset, you are “intentionally living”.
A More Fulfilling Life
The idea of intentional living isn’t just goal setting and checking off a list of to-do’s. It’s not swooning over a positive meme that you hang on your wall. It’s a whole-hearted striving to live the life you really want. When you make your core values a priority, you end up spending more time doing what makes your life fulfilling. It’s the essence of joy and contentment that we all want more of.
What might it look like?
Honestly, we all have different ideas of what a fulfilled life looks like. That’s the way it should be; we are unique and our interests will lead us down different paths. But here is what some intentional goals might be:
Be specific with your intentions. Make a Plan.
Doing things that align you with your purpose, goals and authentic self starts with knowing what brings you sunshine. When you first ponder on the idea of “intentional living”, it’s mostly a feeling of “I’m gonna do it! I’m gonna make it happen”. But here’s the crux; unless you know exactly what it is you want to ‘make happen”, it’s less likely to happen. That’s just dream-making.
It’s like making travel plans to cross the country. It helps to know where you’re going; if there’s a location you want to get to, then you will mentally mark it on a map. It will determine the direction, the relative time and distance required to get there.
See, if you don’t plan for it – then there’s a good chance it won’t happen. If you really intend to make it a thing you do – then commit yourself to it, and give shape to your intention by getting into the details. It carves a space in your habits and schedule that forces you to stop, and prioritize yourself in the moment, for your intended purpose.
The details can change – because life isn’t linear, and the circumstance might evolve. Don’t make it a rigid or perfectionist exercise; consider it an inner dialogue you have. Communicate with yourself daily, so that you remain in tune with what you really want for your fulfilled life.
Does it Sound Complicated or Hard?
That’s no surprise if it does. There’s a resistance in us for breaking routines and comfortable habits. Changing behavior is easier said than done. Also, we tend to let other people dictate our time and choices, because we don’t know how to say ‘no’. The hard part, initially, is feeling guilt-free about giving yourself permission to chose yourself.
Once you learn how to prioritize yourself, not as a permission, but as a necessity – your mindset will change. You are worthy of placing yourself first, and showing care for your needs.