What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘intentional living?’ Can you even picture it for yourself? Does living an intentional life seem like something only meant for people with no responsibilities and no worries?
Here’s the thing… ANYONE can live an intentional life — even if you’re an overwhelmed overthinker. Yes, it takes some work and some changes in thinking, but it IS possible to be more mindful, set powerful goals, and feel more joy in every day.
Let’s talk about why you may not be living intentionally right now and then 7 steps you can take toward creating an intentional life…
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What’s Preventing You From Living Intentionally?
Do you ever get an odd feeling in your chest when you think about your future? Or maybe you reflect on your past or look at your current situation and realize you’ve just been living each day on autopilot?
I get it! Sometimes when we live in a constant state of overwhelm and have a tendency to overthink absolutely everything… we draw back and detach, only allowing ourselves to think about the very next thing on our list.
Or we get so caught up in the cycle of overthinking that we never stop long enough to actually DO anything.
Before we even realize it, years pass. Life has happened TO us. We haven’t been living an intentional life, and we barely even noticed.
So… WHY are we not living intentionally?
Perhaps one of these sounds familiar:
– You’re afraid of the future
When we allow ourselves to overthink every.little.thing, we live in perpetual fear of what might happen in the future.
That means we sometimes ruin our present… either by trying NOT to think or by living so safely that we never try anything exciting or truly meaningful.
It’s natural to be a little afraid, because there’s no way of knowing exactly what will happen in the future.
However, living an intentional life means working to overcome your fears and pursue your passion.
– You don’t face failures
As much as we hate failures, they are a part of our lives. We cannot totally avoid them, but we can become more intentional about how we deal with them.
Failures are like opportunities that you must learn from to improve. That goes for our personal lives AND our professional lives.
Always remember, failures are pauses, stopovers, not the finish line. Don’t let failures be the reason you give up on your dreams, goals, and intentional living.
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”Oprah Winfrey
Self-confidence quotes are a great way to get motivated and inspired!
Action Steps to Living a More Intentional Life
Honestly, for many people this is going to be uncomfortable reading, not to mention actually taking action. Some of these steps might mean really big life changes when you dig down and answer things truthfully.
If that’s too overwhelming, practice the smaller things first.
As you become more comfortable and confident with making intentional choices and being mindful of what’s going on around you and the results of your choices, you will be better able to work up to bigger changes with even more positive results.
Become aware of who you are and the things you want from life. A great way to begin is by working through a dreams and goals worksheet.
1. Define your beliefs and evaluate everything
Ask yourself, is it where you want to be? Is it something you like? Are you here because you wanted to be, or because someone else wanted you to be here? Think mindfully, is it what you want to do?
Choose only the things that make you say and feel ‘YES!’
If your gut says no, then in your heart you know what you need to do.
Remember, questioning everything is necessary if you want to be an intentional person.
If something you’re currently doing is not your dream, stop chasing it. Learn to stop being afraid of what others would say. It’s your life — YOU are the writer of it.
It can be scary, and you don’t necessarily have to change your entire life at once. But NOT doing anything means admitting defeat… and I don’t want that for you!
2. Don’t give up on your interests
You might think you don’t have any worthwhile ambitions, passions, and interests.
You might feel that only other people are good at the things you find interesting. Your mind may say that you have no business trying new things.
Think again. Isn’t there something you like to do?
Perhaps there is something, but you’ve pushed it aside for years because you’ve listened to others or not yet built up your own confidence.
Start listening to your own voice.
There is something you’re good at, or that you could be good at AND LOVE DOING if you simply gave yourself a chance.
Find out what it is. You may already know the answer.
3. Start over if necessary
There can be times when after much contemplation, you come to terms with the fact that you have been in the wrong place, doing the wrong job, pursuing the wrong goals.
At that poing, there is only one solution left for you… start from scratch.
Does that mean you should leave your entire life behind and burn all of your bridges?
I am definitely NOT a counselor or anyone qualified to give you a green light on that. But if you’re feeling in your heart that you need to make such a major move, please seek the advice of a qualified counselor.
Always remember that to have a beginning, you have to face the end. Sometimes it is the only option, the only way if you want things to change.
4. Plan with intention
Once you know where you want to go, it’s time to figure out how to get there.
Plan your days ahead. Ask for expert opinions, do your research, find motivation in other people.
One thing to remember… don’t get so involved in planning that you never start doing anything.
Taking action on a simple, basic plan and making mistakes along the way is ALWAYS better than a perfect plan that you never begin!
Part of being intentional is keeping in touch with your thoughts and feelings about your actions and what’s going on around you.
Make a written or video journal for yourself specifically for a goal you want to achieve — even if it is about completely changing your life.
Write down your goals, and set targets for how and when you’re going to reach them. Writing down your plans is a great way to keep you systematic, organized, and motivated at the same time.
Use your journal to keep track of how you’re doing with that plan you made.
Stuff happens that will throw us off balance. How do you cope with those things? Do you let them derail you? Or do you incorporate the events and lessons you learn into your plan?
A journal will help you work through your feelings and get a better sense of how to move forward when dealing with changes and obstacles.
6. Take little steps every day
Every step that you take today and tomorrow (and the next day, and the next…) counts and contributes to the result. Don’t perceive it as a short term objective, but adapt to it as a part of your lifestyle.
Start small, grow steadily until you can finally see the change.
This is especially effective for intentional living goals that may be a little frightening to you.
The little things will begin to snowball as you make the actions and destination part of yourself. Eventually those big things won’t feel as scary.
7. Be patient
Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking, “What’s the use? I can’t see the difference. Nothing ever changes. I give up, this isn’t for me.”
This is the worst thing you can do to yourself. You can’t achieve your dream overnight, and learning to live your intentional life may feel a LOT harder in the middle than you thought it was going to.
You have to be patient. Keep moving and making progress. Things take time to change — maybe even months or years.
Wait. Stay determined, and don’t give up.
You CAN build your best life, and it can be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done.
What Does Creating An Intentional Life Look Like?
How do you feel after reading that list? Frightened? Overwhelmed? Dismissive of suggestions that ‘wouldn’t work for me?’
Did you think this was going to be a list like ‘create a calming evening self-care routine’ or ‘exercise every day’ and similar things?
Maybe you didn’t expect a hard-hitting post?
The thing is, if you feel stuck and UNintentional, nothing short of at least one major change is going to shake you out of that rut.
And maybe that one change won’t take care of ALL the issues in your life, but it will give you ONE thing to focus on and FEEL more intentional about every day.
Maybe it’s quitting work an hour early every day to play a game with your children or take a nature walk with them.
Maybe it’s taking a class and learning to cook gourmet meals just because you’ve always wanted to.
Maybe it’s writing and publishing your first book even though you’re scared as heck.
Maybe it’s educating yourself about how to start your own business and work from home despite everyone telling you it’s better to keep a ‘real’ job that sucks your soul.
Maybe it’s traveling the country or the world with your partner even though neither of you have ever been more than a few hundred miles from home.
Maybe it’s deciding to become a lawyer or a doctor or a teacher even though you’ve been telling yourself you’re too old for a decade or more.
Sometimes risks are what it takes to fulfill your dreams. Prepare yourself, take a deep breath, and do what you have to.
Try to be a more intentional person today. Live, don’t just exist.
More Intentional Living Resources
She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evans Hurst
Concluding Thoughts on Living an Intentional Life
Don’t think of change and intentional living as a destination. It’s all part of your journey. Everything you do along the way matters and contributes to the result.
It doesn’t matter whether intentional living for you means striving for a purpose greater than yourself or finding joy in the small things and reflecting that back to everyone around you. Or some combination… Hey, it’s your life!
What matters is DECIDING what you’re doing and your purpose… not just going where life is taking you.
Build Your Best Life.
You’ve got this!
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