Today’s post is sharing not only what it means to live an intentional life. But also 5 areas to tackle in your life to help you be intentional.
When life feels busy and full, it’s easy to get stuck on autopilot. Going through the motions of daily life: going to work, taking care of your home, raising your family, etc. But not really feeling fulfilled by or purposeful in your daily life. More like life is happening to you, not like you’re living in an intentional, purposeful way.
But that’s where today’s post will help! You’ll gain practical ideas in each of these 5 key areas to help you start living more intentionally and create a life you love!
What does it mean to be intentional?
Intentional living is quite a broad term. And will likely mean different things to different people and look different for different people.
But for today’s purposes, intentional living means first knowing what your true values, goals and priorities are. Then making deliberate choices to align the way you live with those values, goals and priorities.
It’s a matter of taking the time to decide and choose what matters most to you. Then making sure that the way you live your life aligns with that. That the big and small actions, choices and activities of your life are aligned with what matters most to you.
Why live intentionally?
The biggest reason to pursue a more intentional life is because it feels good. It feels good to live in a way that aligns with your authentic self, who you really are at your core. It feels good when the way you live and the choices you make align with your goals, values and priorities.
Instead of just going along with whatever life throws at you, you become an active participant in creating the days that make up your life.
Of course, not everything in life is within your control, but a lot is. A lot of what makes up your days is the result of the choices you make, both big and small.
Living intentionally means taking control over the things you do have control over and making choices to live life in the way you want.
Living intentionally in big and small ways
Choosing to be intentional in your life is not only the result of the big decisions you make. Like the career or education path you pursue, whether to stay at or leave a job, whether or not to get married, who you marry, if you have kids, etc.
It’s also the result of smaller, less significant choices you make on a daily basis.
Things like what you watch and read, if you choose to make movement and exercise a priority, what you eat, how much you prioritize sleep, who you spend time with, what activities you do on a regular basis, what you do in your leisure time, things you buy, etc.
All of these little actions and choices add up to create the life you live. As Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
So much of what your days look and feel like is the result of the choices you make. Life doesn’t just have to happen to you. You have the power to be intentional and make choices to create a life you love.
5 areas to focus on to be more intentional
Here are 5 big areas to focus on in your life to help you be more intentional and create a life you love. These 5 areas will have a big impact on the way your days look, feel and flow. And help you create a life that feels in alignment with your goals, values and priorities.
1. Be intentional with your priorities
If you want to be more intentional in your life, the first key thing to do is take the time to get really clear about your values, goals and priorities.
What do you value most? What goals do you have for your life? What is most important to you and makes up your true priorities?
If you’ve been living on autopilot and allowing life to happen to you, you might not really be sure what your values, goals and priorities are. And that’s ok. The key is taking some time to figure out what they are now.
It’s also important to focus on what is really true for you when answering these questions. Not what you think your answers “should” be.
If you’re struggling to get clear about your values, goals and priorities, spend some time thinking about what really lights you up. What leaves you feeling totally fulfilled and happy? Notice what you are doing when you feel most excited and alive? What makes you forget to check your phone?
The answers to these kinds of questions will help you figure out what you really love doing and what makes you feel most fulfilled.
You can also think about what you would like to see at the end of your life when you look back on your life. It’s a great way to figure out what truly matters to you.
Once you have some clarity about your true values, goals and priorities, start thinking about how you can create more space for those things in your life. How can you keep them prioritized? What steps can you take to give those things the time, space, energy, attention and even money they deserve?
2. Be intentional with your time
After clearly identifying your values, goals and priorities, the next step is thinking about what steps you can take to keep them prioritized in your life. And the first way to do that is by paying attention to where your time is going.
The goal is to feel purposeful with your time. To know that the way you’re spending the majority of your time is supporting and in alignment with your values, goals and priorities.
Look back over the last week, month, year, etc. Consider if the ways you’re spending your time are adding value to your life. And if the ways you use your time are supporting and in alignment with the values, goals and priorities that are most important to you.
If how you’re spending the majority of your time isn’t adding value to or aligning with your priorities, start brainstorming shifts and changes you can make to help correct that.
Look at big and little uses of your time
Remember to think about the little places your time goes, as well as the big ones. Often, it’s the little things that take up your time that can have a really big impact on your days and your life.
For example, maybe taking care of your body and exercising is an important priority for you. But you feel like you never have any time to exercise. Look at where your time is currently going. If your screen time report tells you you’re spending 2 hours a day on social media, maybe it’s not that you don’t have time, but you need to adjust how you’re spending your time instead.
Look for things that are taking up your time, but aren’t adding value to your life. Particularly things you’re doing mindlessly like scrolling social media, online shopping, or watching tv.
Of course, downtime is important and sometimes we all need some mindless scrolling or tv watching. But what you’re looking for is when these types of activities become too much and take up too much of your time.
Also, look at who you’re spending your time with. Consider the relationships that bring you down, or are even toxic, versus the time you spend with people you love who leave you feeling better after time spent with them.
Change takes time, but you can start small
Consider the kind of work you do and whether or not it aligns with your values, goals and priorities.
For example, if you have a job you don’t like, you may not be able to change it overnight. But you can start taking steps that move you towards living a more aligned, intentional life.
Maybe there are mindset or attitude shifts you can make within yourself to make work more pleasant. Even deciding to take a walk outside during your lunch break might improve the way you feel at work.
Maybe you can keep your eyes open for new job opportunities and have an updated, current resume ready in case something comes up. Perhaps you could upgrade your skills or take courses to help prepare you for new or different opportunities. You might even be able to find ways to live more simply, reduce your expenses and find yourself needing to work less overtime at your job.
Remember your power to choose
Notice when you’re doing something because you feel like you should and start to question that. Do you really have to do that thing? Who says you have to? What would happen if you didn’t?
The key is remembering that you have choices. Even with things you can’t completely change right now, you can make choices and changes to help those parts of your life feel more intentional and aligned.
And while you’re assessing where your time is going, don’t forget to create some breathing room in your days too. Especially if you’re feeling stretched too thin, rushed or always too busy. Leave time for downtime and rest.
Clear the clutter from your home so you can spend less time managing your home and the stuff in it. Be intentional when you say yes and practice saying no to the things that don’t align with your goals, values and priorities.
3. Be intentional with your space
It can be hard to live intentionally when clutter, mess, excess and distractions are sucking up so much of your time and energy at home. Not to mention adding stress to your days.
Clearing the clutter, the excess and the distractions, not only makes your home easier to manage and maintain. But it also frees up a lot of your time. Giving you opportunities to use that time intentionally in a way that aligns with your values, goals and priorities.
Rather than just dealing with the “stuff” in your home, your home can support you and the life you want to live. Not drain your time and energy unnecessarily.
More time, fewer distractions, more energy and less stress at home can also make it easier to be mindful and get clear on what your true values, goals and priorities are. And give you more opportunities to take action, make choices and live more intentionally, focusing on your values, goals and priorities.
4. Be intentional with your spending
Another great way to be more intentional in your life is to be intentional with your money and spending.
When you buy more thoughtfully and intentionally, you can make sure the purchases you’re making will add value to your home and life. Rather than adding stress and clutter.
You might also end up buying less “stuff” in general. Which is a great way to keep your home simplified and easier to comfortably manage and take care of with ease.
Buying less “stuff” might even mean you can work less. Freeing up more time and energy for the things that are most important to you.
And finally, when you become intentional with your spending, you can use your money in ways that support and bring you closer to your values, goals and priorities.
For example, maybe you will be able to have one parent stay at home with your kids when you get more intentional with your spending. Reducing your spending and expenses to make achieving this goal possible.
Or maybe travelling is one of your big priorities. Getting intentional with your spending and focusing on buying less “stuff” allows you to have more funds available for travel and adventures.
In general, studies have shown that prioritizing spending on experiences rather than buying “stuff” can lead to more contentment and longer-lasting happiness. So, a great way for anyone to live more intentionally is focusing on spending on experiences more than things!
5. Be intentional with your mindset
And finally, the last area to focus on to live more intentionally is your mindset.
Once you know what your values, goals and priorities are, it’s important to shift your mindset to focus on those things. Not worrying about what other people are doing or if your values, goals and priorities look different from other people.
It’s your life and you get to create a life you love. Regardless of what that looks like compared to other people’s lives. In fact, a big mindset shift to help you be more intentional is to stop comparing your life to other people’s at all!
Finding contentment through gratitude
Another important mindset shift to make is focusing on contentment. Finding what feels like enough to you. Appreciating what you have, rather than always seeking more, newer, better, shinier, faster, etc.
I once heard a quote that said “the pathway to contentment is paved in gratitude”. It really stuck with me because it’s so true. When you shift your mindset to focus on all the good filling your life, it’s hard not to feel grateful for and content with the life you have. Simply because you’re noticing and appreciating all the good that’s filling it!
But feelings of gratitude and contentment don’t just happen. It’s an active practice. It means you’re actively looking for the good that fills your life, rather than only focusing on what you lack.
And it’s slowing down enough to have the opportunity to notice and appreciate the good filling your life. It’s hard to notice the little delights filling your days when you’re always busy, rushing and frazzled!
Feel good in the ordinary
And finally, another mindset shift to make to live more intentionally is actively finding ways to feel good in your days. Not just in the great times or the special times, but all the time. Finding ways to enjoy your life in the midst of everyday, ordinary life.
Too often we forget that the everyday, ordinary moments make up the majority of our lives. So, find ways to slow down, notice and appreciate the good in those moments. Do things to make those ordinary moments feel good and lovely to you.
Finding and creating moments of joy in the ordinary is one of the big secrets to living intentionally. And creating a life you love!
After reading this, what’s one area you want to focus on to be more intentional in your life?