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A simple guide to intentional living so you can start living a more deliberate and mindful life.
You know those defining moments in your life that lead you down paths that you'd likely never go down without them? My miscarriage was one of those moments for me and it led me in a direction that I am eternally grateful for.
I'm not sure what it was about that moment, other than the fact that it was the first time that I realized how unpredictable life could be. That no matter what I did or wanted, there were still things that were far beyond my control and always would be. But even then, it made me want to work harder to be better. Up until that point, I'd occasionally say that I tried to live intentionally – but I never really tried. I never sat down, came up with a plan, and purposely chased those goals. I just tried to make sure most, if not all, of my decisions have a reason behind them.
But that moment showed me that if I was going to get through it, I'd need to work harder than that. I'd need to do more so that misery didn't swallow me whole. So I set out to do one thing: be the best version of me I could be so I could try again. And for me, that meant living a much more intentional life. Doing things that had a purpose and filled me with joy. Embracing a lifestyle that made me feel proud and energized. Knowing myself enough to accept my flaws and share my passions.
It's still a work in progress, but if I look back to a year and a half ago – the change is impossible to miss. I've transformed into something I never imagined I would be. And the bonus of it all is that it comes with a tiny human, ready to join me in this beautiful life any day now. This journey will always be a work in progress for me, but I wanted to share how I got here with this guide to intentional living.
what exactly is intentional living?
The wonderful thing about intentional living is that it means something very specific, but it's different for each and every person. Intentional living equates to living in a way that aligns with your personal values and brings you closer to being the person you wish to be in this life. You decide the direction. You decide your path. You decide the journey. As long as you are making the decision to do something, believe in something, or value something for a specific reason – it's intentional living. All you have to do is be aware of your decisions enough to make them deliberate and you're set.
For me, the best part of intentional living is that it's not something that has a hard deadline or even a rigid plan that forces an impossible routine upon you. I like flexibility with a purpose. I love being able to change my mind and choose a new path if that's what I feel will most reflect my values. And for me, that's exactly why I choose to live intentionally.
how do I live more intentionally?
Intentional living isn't hard once you've come to understand what it means for you. What it means for me will be something completely different for you so there's no exact blueprint that I can hand over. Instead, I can share what I did to understand what intentional living meant for me.
- Know Yourself: Take time to figure out what you're passionate about, what you believe in, and what you value. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Understand where you currently are and where you'd prefer to be in your life. This can be in your career, relationships, health, education, hobbies and more. Really dig deep and try to understand what makes you who you are today and how that's different from the person you'd like to be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, five years from now, or even ten years from now.
- Decide Your Purpose: Once you know yourself, you can define your purpose. And knowing your purpose is the holy grail of being able to live intentionally. Your purpose will give you something to work towards and set goals for which all pull together to create a more deliberate, mindful life.
- Set Goals: These goals should align with the person you want to work towards being and the purpose that you've decided on. Set big, lofty long-term goals that are followed with small/short-term goals that will help you achieve these bigger goals. And then come up with action plans to carry out your short-term goals. These action plans will automatically add in some intentional living into your life if you follow them and will eventually lead to you being able to check off your long-term goals.
- Check-In: Take time every day or week to check-in to see how you're doing. Are you working towards the best version of yourself? Are you doing things that fulfill your purpose? Are your short-term and long-term goals being achieved? Set aside time to review how you're doing and see what you can do to improve.
- Stop Comparing: One of the easiest ways to live unintentionally is to compare yourself to someone else. You'll be chasing after their intentions – not yours. You were meant to be you and you were meant to chase your own dreams. Do that. And do it the best that you can so you can accomplish the one thing you are truly meant to do here: be yourself.
- Think About Your Reasons: Everything you say or do should have a reason behind it. If it does not, can you really say that you are speaking or doing something intentionally? Slow down long enough to come up with reasons for your actions and words. It may take longer to do things and you may find yourself coming back to things, but it's worth it when you know that there's a specific purpose behind everything that you do.
- Don't Overwhelm Yourself: Want another quick way to ensure intentional living is hard to grasp? Take on too much. The only way that you can live intentionally is to do what you commit to/say you're going to do and if you take on too much, you're already setting yourself up for failure. If you're brand new to intentional living, start small. Choose one area of your life – IE: your career – and focus on that. Know where you currently are in your career, know where you want to be in your career, decide your career's purpose, set goals to achieve the purpose, and check-in with yourself on this specific area. Once you've got a good handle on it, add in another part of your life. Slowly build the momentum until you're able to manage all areas of your life intentionally.
- Reward Yourself: Rewards for short-term and long-term goals are great motivators when it comes to continuing to live intentionally. Choose something that encourages you to keep doing better and better. Share your success with loved ones who are supportive of you, too.
- Revise as Needed: Like I mentioned earlier, intentional living isn't about being rigid. It's about being flexible enough to bend when you need it to. If what you're doing isn't working, if your purpose has changed, if your goals aren't ideal anymore – change it. Don't just keep chasing what you thought what was right in the first place – that's the opposite of intentional living. As soon as you realize it's time for a change, take the time to make any necessary changes that will get you back on the path you want to be on. Even if it's a completely different direction that the first way.
Use this guide to intentional living for coming up with an intentional life that suits you and your needs. Use what works for you to find your whole purpose and come up with your ideal intentional life. Use the things that speak to you and ignore what doesn't. Only you know how to live the life you're meant to live which is what makes intentionally living such a unique experience for everyone that embraces it.
Do you try to live intentionally? What tried and true tips have you used to live a more purposeful life? What is the most rewarding thing about intentionally living for you?
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