Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Image via: Instagram
So many of us the live the way we live out of habit. We do things purely because that's the way that we have always done them.
We slip into a cycle of living in survival mode - just doing things to get through the day, rather than living and thriving.
We live in a society that seems to praise a busy lifestyle and is continually trying to tell us that this is important and that is important, and you should be going here and doing that. We are so busy rushing through life, trying to do all of these 'things' that we don't have time to actually slow down enough to think if what we are so busy doing is the best for us, and our lives.
We are faced with thousands of choices and options every day - some small and some big. (according to research, adults make on average 35,000 decisions every day). From whether we choose chocolate cake or salad for lunch and what clothes we choose to put on in the morning to big family decisions such as where your children go to school, where to live, career choices or the people that we allow into, or let go of, in our lives.
Sometimes, its easier to go with the flow and not really think properly about these options.
"Most people spend more time planning a one week holiday than they spend planning their life" ~ Michael Hyatt.
It's easy to let life just happen to us, but I doubt that any of us desire to just drift through it.
You know that your life would be better if... You had that dream job, more money, travelled to all of those beautiful places that you've seen on Instagram, were healthier and fitter, less stressed etc., but every day has responsibilities, and life pressures and the things that we really want or need in our lives get pushed to the end of our never-ending 'to do' list.
We think, and hope, that this cycle will stop at some point when certain conditions are met, and life will magically get better. But without conscious effort on our part, it won't. Just wanting the life that you've always dreamed of is not enough to make it happen.
So, this may very well be the rest of our lives, unless we decide to change things.
You have to be an active participant in your own life and actively work towards your goals - on purpose and with intention.
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives" - Annie Dillard
SO, WHAT IS INTENTIONAL LIVING?
Intentional = done on purpose, deliberate.
Like any lifestyle change, intentional living means something unique to each and every one of us. It can mean personal goals or improving the lives or other, or the planet.
Intentional living is having a vision for how you would like your life to look and feel, knowing your values and priorities in life and deliberately taking action towards those priorities and values.
It focuses on being present and mindful and on making intentional decisions each and every day.
Bringing greater intention to how we want to live is one of the most powerful steps in creating a fulfilling life. Over time it allows you to design a life that you want to live.
Being aware of your habits - how you spend your time, your energy, your consumption habits, how you take care of your health - means that you are able to design your life with each and every decision purposefully. Asking why you are doing something, why something is in your life, how it's benefiting you - or are you just going through the motions?
Intentional living is about knowing why you do what you do. It's about learning how to make better decisions so that you're happier with fewer regrets. It's about slowing down enough to think through each of those decisions with your eyes wide open. Considering their consequences and benefits, the sacrifices that you need to make, the time you need to spend, and being able to take a step back and evaluate the things that you are doing.
Intentional living is about doing the things that are important to you, even when they are not easy.
(If you value being healthier - it could be choosing to spend 10 minutes exercising in the morning, rather than scrolling through Facebook updates).
Intentional living is creating good habits that help us to build the life we want to live.
Our small daily actions can work for us, or against us, it's up to us to choose which. There are some great habits that we know are good for us (exercising, healthy eating...) but it can be hard to stick to them. Intentional living is about knowing your values, having a reason to do these things and acting in a way that aligns our life with these values. When we live with intention, it's easier to override the old habits that make us mindless and don't contribute to the life we want to live, with new happiness and health-promoting habits.
Intentional living is decluttering the things that don't matter to make space for the things that do
When you simplify your life by decluttering the things that no longer matter to you, the things that you do keep in your life take on greater significance. Whether that's physical and material possessions or mental clutter such as limiting beliefs and mindsets.
When you live a simpler life, you naturally become more intentional. And when you become more intentional, your life naturally becomes simpler - allowing more space, time and freedom to focus on what's important.
Intentional living gives us the freedom to make time for the things that are truly important to us while discarding the rest.
Intentional living is about how you spend your time, money and energy.
Everything that you do let into your life comes with careful consideration - every purchase, action, decision and motivation. You don't get bogged down up buying things you don't need, saying yes to things that you don't want to do, being overwhelmed by too much stuff, too many commitments, things to do and plates to juggle, because you think about what you're doing and more importantly, why you are doing it. We use our resources on the things that mean the most.
Intentional living is doing the things that matter to you, and your family, and not anybody else.
It's about doing the things that make the most sense to you based on your values and priorities, not making decisions just to 'fit in' with what other people are doing. It's ignoring the fads and tuning out what people 'think' you should be doing. Your best life begins the moment you decide to be yourself, not what society decides for you.
Life is not 'one-size-fits-all'. Whether it concerns your personal life, your marriage, parenting, work etc. what works for others may not work for you. Do your own thing. Rather than trying to copy out rightly everything you read in books, from a blog or what other people are doing.
Intentional living is taking care of yourself.
Slowing down enough to take care of yourself and giving your mind time to think and rest and relax. Taking care of your body, eating healthily, exercising, being true to yourself and embracing imperfection.
Over the past few years, I've tried really hard to edit my life and intentionally work towards living a life that feels right for me and contributes to my health and happiness (without worrying too much about the judgement of others). And trust me, at times its hard.
But I realised that it's harder to end up looking back on your life with painful regret that things could have been different.
It's through intent - and practice that I have created new habits and have been more successful in achieving my goals.
I've got more goals to work towards (and lots more life to live intentionally), but I am so grateful I made the decision to start making the changes. It's the intention that is always the first step in getting there.
What could you start being more intentional about in your life? Start today.