We have spoken a lot about being intentional in our sustainable practices, consumption, and fashion choices. But there is so much more to explore with this idea. We can live intentionally in each area of our lives in order to ensure we truly live the life we want. Intentional living is about living each moment with a purpose. Asking yourself why you do things, and how it will help you achieve your goals in life. To live intentionally is to assign meaning to each moment; to avoid ‘losing any more moments to the meaningless’.
Intentional living does not mean that you have to have everything figured out and have a clear path you want to take in life. It just means having a purpose behind your actions. Giving a reason for each action you take. How often do you feel you are just drifting through life? Do you ever find yourself questioning the point of existence? It’s very easy to get bogged down in day-to-day routine and end up feeling a bit aimless. Intentional living changes this, as it reinstates meaning into everything you do. Even if you don’t really know what you want your final destination to be, you can choose to be intentional about the direction you are taking in life.
Psychology Today recommends employing three steps in order to live intentionally. Evaluate reality clearly, make effective decisions and achieve your goals, both in the long and short term. To evaluate your reality clearly, you need to understand your external environment – your job, friends and family, community – and how it relates to your internal environment. That is, how you tend to think, behave and feel about things.
Once you have done this, you are better placed to make effective decisions about what you want and how to achieve it. It is important to realise you are in control of both your external and internal environment. If you feel either are not conducive to what you want from life, change something! Make decisions about what you want, and plan how you want to do it. This will make it easier to live intentionally.
Finally – go out and achieve it! You have created a positive environment for yourself through evaluating your surroundings, you have planned what you want and have made decisions about how to do it. Therefore, you will have everything at your disposal to make your goals reality. However, remember to be open to new opportunities and adapt your goals, and your driving purpose, accordingly.
Are you reading this and thinking, ‘How can I set goals when I’m still not quite sure about what I want from life?’ Don’t fret – your goals don’t have to be anything as concrete as where you want your career to be in ten years. They can be as simple as deciding what makes you happy on a day to day basis. What do you do that brings you joy? Even small tickles of happiness? With this goal in mind, we can live intentionally by making every decision with this goal in mind. If you consider and realise something is going to have a negative impact on your happiness, you can opt-out of doing it.
It is in this way that we can be intentional about our direction despite being unsure of our destination. Understand your core values and what matters to you most, and you can live intentionally. Personally, I value my relationships with family and friends and my independence. So when making decisions, I try to keep this in mind and make choices that will not negatively impact these areas of my life. I try to make decisions every day that prioritise the same values in order to achieve a life I enjoy.
Figuring out your values may seem like a challenge. Take a minute to think about when you feel at your happiest, and when you have felt fulfilled. If you can identify a theme to these moments, you will be able to live in an intentional way in order to facilitate them happening more regularly.
This is a key part of living intentionally – understanding that the way your life pans out is completely within your control. You have the power to design the life you want for yourself through the choices you make. Being intentional about your choices every day are bound to bring positive and noticeable results.
So – are you ready to start living intentionally? Here are some ideas for what you can start doing today to begin your intentional living journey.
Put yourself to task
Do some deep introspection and ask yourself some really tough questions about your life. What is important to you? Why? Who is important to you? Why? What was your last purchase? Why? What do you want from your career? Why? What does your dream life look like? Why?
The key here is ‘why’. It is only when you start to question why you do things, and why you want things, that you will be able to set intentions for how you want to live your life. But remember that this introspection is a continuous process – if you self-reflect regularly, it will become easier to live intentionally.
Write a manifesto for your life
Get yourself on an intentional path by understanding what makes you tick, and what you want to achieve. Write a personal manifesto to live by, detailing your values, your priorities, your goals, your relationships… whatever you feel is an important context for the decisions you will face about your life.
Keep a diary
Keeping a diary is a great exercise in staying focussed and intentional in your day-to-day life. Taking time to reflect on decisions you have made, and the way you have conducted yourself is invaluable in keeping you on track to realising your goals. Even if it’s just once a week, this is a cathartic exercise that you will find really helpful for your intentional journey.
Like slow living, make these small changes to your life and you will feel the benefits. Try adapting your approach to decisions and being mindful of the impact of each choice you make, and be marvelled by how much easier it is to get what you want from life.