Intentional Living + how you can live more purposefully.
The art of intentional living can improve your life dramatically – bringing you calm, happiness and purpose. But what the heck is intentional living, and how do you do it?
What is intentional living?
The definition of intention.
Intentional living really means when we act from a place of intention, rather than habit. The word intention means done on purpose or deliberate (Oxford), planned or intended (Cambridge), or perhaps more apt for this context, doing something by design (Merriam-Webster).
Living intentionally, not habitually.
So to live with intention, means that have the actions we take on a daily basis, and those over the weeks, months and years that add up to our life, have been planned. Have been considered, and deliberately chosen over another action.
There are some things we do every day that are perfectly fine to do out of habit, without deliberating over. Breathing, for one. And chewing your food. Brushing your hair or drying the dishes.
And then there are things that we tend to do out of habit, but without realising that we had a choice. Things like the tone of our voice when we talk with people, or the tasks we prioritise throughout the day.
And if we’re not careful, we live from morning to night in a habitual pattern. The same thoughts looping through our mind, the same reaction to the things that get in our way or disrupt our pattern, and the same tired body that crashes into bed well past our bedtime.
But it doesn’t stop there. By reacting to the million and one things around us that need to be done in the day, (in no prioritised order), it’s likely we’ve had some sort of digitally-invoked light flickering in front of us before bed, we’ve paid no heed to our circadian rhythms, and we fall into a restless sleep. Waking the next morning too tired to put a thought together.
Much less an intentional one.
Why is intentional living important?
Why does it even matter? One reason. When we live a life based on habitual patterns, we ‘fall’ into situations. Like being swept away in a fast-running river we are buffeted around, maybe hitting a rock here and there. Maybe drifting in the shallow for some time, before being dragged through the rapids again. And at some point we are spat out the other end – looking back on a route we neither chose, nor probably remember half of.
What does it mean to live intentionally?
An intentional life, on the other hand, allows us to take pause to choose the sunny destination we want to visit. Purchase a map (create a map!). We might like to hire a guide to take us down that river. But we might also want to hike a mountain and look down at the river cutting it’s crooked trail through the valley. We might want to rest on the riverside and read our book or throw a fishing line in and catch some dinner.
You see, we can make choices that bring us happiness. Choices that make life feel meaningful to us. And we can look at life from different perspectives. Enjoying the depth and breadth of an intentional life.
Creating an intentional life.
When we live with intent, not only do we start to live a life that is more in line with our values and dreams. But we also start to value our time more. We start to question why we are doing some of the things we are doing, and spending time with some of the people we are spending time with.
How do you live an intentional life?
Now that you’re convinced it’s worthwhile, you may be wondering “how can I be more intentional with my life?”
How can I be more purposeful?
- Practice gratitude. Gratitude is an amazingly powerful way of focusing on the things that bring us love and joy, and recognising their value in our life.
- Meditate. Take some time out, just for you. Meditating can calm a hectic mind and allow you to see things with more clarity. It’s also a great way to be more mindful in your everyday life.
- Learn to say no. When people are asking things of you, don’t default to yes for everything! You don’t have to and you’ll burn out trying to please everyone else.
- Plan your day out in advance. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible, and make changes along the way. But it gives you a way to prioritise the things you have decided to do, or at least weigh them up against the other things that have just cropped up.
- Determine your values. And let these guide all of your decisions.
- Take the time to consider your long term goals. This, too, will make your decision-making easier along the way. Just ask yourself, “will this help me to reach my dream life?”
- Be intentional with your words. Think about the way you phrase your words, the tone you use and how another person will receive them. Are you being clear? Have you chosen your words kindly? Are you being intentional? If your words are reactive or thoughtless, pause a moment before you respond.
Make intentional living your new habit!
Living with intention, 100% of the time, is not something that will happen straight away. When things get busy, or you are feeling a little tired you may find yourself falling back into old habits. And that’s OK! Get up the next day and resolve to act with intent!
Over time it will become instinctive for you and you will become deeper and more consistent with your intent.
You can check out my own personal intentional living story if you want to learn more, or get a little inspiration.
Most importantly – remember that this is your life! Only you can decide what is important to you and what brings you happiness and meaning. Choose well! ❤