Well, on the face of it, living intentionally is exactly what it sounds like — living your life with purpose.
And sure, that is the heart of it.
But if we’re being honest, that’s still pretty vague.
The primary goal of being more intentional is to give more thought to how our daily thoughts and actions impact us, and actively try to make those thoughts and actions lead us to a life we find more satisfying overall.
Of course, the idea of living this way is much easier said than done.
Most people don’t go into their day with the intention of being negative. Nonetheless, negativity creeps in.
Of course, a positive mindset isn’t always easy.
And when it’s not, how have you set up your daily life so that you can still feel like you’re living your best life.
So when you’re stuck, or just getting started, on your intentional living journey, here are a couple of simple tips that may help you.
Figure out what your personal vision for a happier life looks like
Intentional living starts with you and establishing your own priorities.
This can’t be done by anyone, and you can’t rely on someone else’s vision to tell you what is going to give you a more purposeful life.
It may be that you want to stop the daily grind at your job.
Or perhaps you want to clean up your diet or eliminate toxins from your home, your makeup, or cleaning products.
Maybe you want to read more.
Or spend more time outdoors.
Whatever the case may be, you can’t begin to regain control over your life if you don’t have a clear picture of where you want to end up.
And keep in mind, when you’re just starting on this journey, you don’t have to have a complete picture of what you want right away.
Sometimes it can really be as simple as one item you modify that will feel good about.
Establish daily routines
Pay attention to how you life your everyday life.
Many people find that creating a reliable and consistent sleep and wake schedule for themselves (yes, even on weekends), help them to function better and helps their body to feel good.
Keep in mind that these daily routines can be small things. But they should be things that you have a purpose for doing.
A couple of ideas for small things you can create space in your everyday routine for may be:
- Moving your body
- Make your bed
- Read or play with your children for 10 minutes each evening
- Have dinner technology-free
- Journal about your day, or a to-do list to prep for the following day
Whatever you want to build into your day, remember that you don’t have to do all the things at one time. Maybe start with one item and once you’ve established it as part of your routine, add another thing.
Also remember that these things should be items that contribute to that personal vision of a happier life you created at the beginning.
The goal is to be living with intention so that you have energy and don’t feel so stuck.
Establishing routines should be something that help you have a slight degree of clear structure. But if you try something out (maybe making your bed just doesn’t add enough to your mental wellbeing), and don’t find it helpful, its ok to scrap it.
This should be an exercise in making helpful, intentional decisions and they should not be things that make you feel guilty.
Take care of yourself
Living with intention is a type of personal growth, which means you have to factor in your personal wellbeing.
Find a way to indulge in some self care on a regular basis — move your body, indulge in a quiet cup of coffee, read a good book.
Find ways to be intentional each day with the way you care for yourself.
Train yourself to be kind to yourself when you have hard moments.
Maybe you have a hard time with positive self-talk. Maybe make speaking kindly to yourself your personal “intentional living challenge.” Would you speak to your friends or family that way?
Every little step you take toward taking better care of yourself will benefit you, but it will also benefit those people you consider to be your most important relationships.
Try to focus on life, in the moment
While it’s absolutely beneficial to have an idea of what you need and want to do in order to have a better life, living in the moment cannot be understated.
It seems like most people are stressed about the future.
But one of the things that helps people to stay focused on the present is to practice gratitude.
Maybe you have a stressful work project that will be taking up some of your time in the next couple of days — what can you do to control some of that stress?
Perhaps one of the ways to be intentional in those moments would be to spend time, maybe just a few minutes, thinking about something good.
Get rid of time wasters
When you’re trying to live a more intentional life, people can get very caught up in making everything perfect.
But sometimes it can be as simple as cutting out some of your time wasters.
Many of us spend too much time on our electronics. Maybe you get stuck in the rabbit hole that is Instagram. Or Facebook.
When you decide to start living intentionally, you may feel like you need to scrap your electronics because of the wasted time, but that would be missing the point.
Is there a way to stop living on auto pilot and focus more on being intentional with your time on social media?
Maybe you set a timer so that you can still enjoy connecting with people on social media without finding yourself on there for your entire evening.
Question your daily “have to”
Many of us have a long list of “have tos.”
Honestly, it leads to burn out because most of us just can’t keep up with our to do list when the lists never stop growing.
So instead of trying to maintain the grind that our culture has created — take a step back.
Maybe your time is stretched so thin that grocery shopping is more stressful than you would like. Is it possible that you can order your groceries and store some of that time and energy for something more beneficial. Such as a form of self care?
If you were to make a visual list of all the things on your “have to” list — is there anything that would cause real chaos if it simply didn’t get done? If so, maybe make those your “have to” list and all of the other things can be “sometime” items.
This is your life and it’s for living! Intentional evaluation of the things you’ve always considered mandatory may be one of the hardest things to cut, but will likely be exactly what you need to live life the way you want to.
Be mindful of your surroundings
Not everyone who strives to live intentionally is a minimalist, but many prioritize having a purpose for the things around them,
Maybe you have more long-lasting pieces so you don’t have to debate over replacing items on a regular basis.
Maybe you just want to lower the amount of clutter.
Maybe you want the walls in your home to be full of pictures of loved ones. Or for the walls to be mostly clear.
Our surroundings have a much larger impact on our stress levels than we tend to give them credit for, so be mindful of the way you surround yourself.
Set boundaries you’re comfortable with
Setting boundaries is a tough topic for most people.
It’s hard to create your own path, but part of intentional living is to focus on what you want out of your life.
What things serve you and your family well and what things don’t?
There are a lot of ways to be intentional with your boundaries. Maybe you need to establish boundaries with the things that come into your home. Maybe you need to be setting boundaries with who you’re welling to interact with on a regular basis.
When you start evaluating where you want to hold boundaries, it lets you live a life far more focused on the things that matter to you.
And loving and living life is the main priority here.
Take some time for yourself to look at your environment and what you have done.
Are there things you think would be beneficial to incorporate into your daily routine?
Are there things you said or did that didn’t align with your vision for your life?
Decide if you should do more or less.
Some people find it helpful to journal so that you can come back to these evaluations.
This practice should be something that helps to spur you in the right direction, though, and not as a means to make yourself feel guilty or feel stuck.
Here, being intentional means evaluating yourself and your day in a way that you find helpful and that benefits you in the long-run.
Prioritize important relationships
Intentional living isn’t just about you.
It’s a reminder to prioritize what really matters to you.
It should encourage you to take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your relationship with the people you care about.
It means using your time wisely, actively listening to your loved ones, and being able to follow-through on your commitments to the people you care about.
Remember, its a process
If you’re just beginning to explore the topic of intentional living, then you’re already one step further than those who aren’t.
When you’re striving to operate a more purposeful life, you’ll never fully be there.
None of us will.
The primary goal is to continue to try to make changes — changes in our lifestyle, the way we interact with people and the world around us, and the way we treat ourselves.
Just take it one step at a time.