In this post I’ll be talking about intentional living, and sharing 7 ways that you can live a more intentional life. Rather than constantly trying to live up to other’s expectations, people need to make sure they are living their life on their own terms and according to their own values.
What does it mean to live an intentional life?
Before I dive in, I thought I’d offer some context on what it actually means to live an intentional life. Living an intentional life is incorporating certain practices or healthy habits into your routine, that correspond with your personal values and beliefs. Paying closer attention to your choices and actions will help ensure that the life you lead is fulfilling and worthwhile.
One: Prioritise the things that bring you joy
Too often in life we choose to put everything ahead of our own personal happiness. This isn’t always necessarily on purpose, because sometimes different aspects of our life (ie. Studies, work, kids, etc) can end up at the forefront of our minds, and we throw all of our attention into them. Over time this can be so draining for our minds, which is why it’s so important to make time to do the things that make you happy.
Whether that be starting a whole new hobby, or finishing a project you’ve been working on for a long time; you should schedule in time to do that as you would anything else on your busy to-do list. You need to remind yourself that protecting your own energy and happiness is vital before trying to look after others.
Two: Recognise that you always have a choice
It’s so easy to settle for less than we deserve, because we end up telling ourselves we don’t have any other choice or we’re trapped in that particular situation. As someone who actually suffers from OCD, I can’t even describe that awful feeling where it seems like things are slipping away from you and nothing is in your control any more. Well let this be a gentle reminder for you that you always have a choice, and there’s always another way.
Life is full of ‘have-tos’ that we tell ourselves we can’t escape from, which is very much false. I hate to sound cliché but you honestly only get one life. Do not spend it trying to please society or other people. Sometimes people might try to make you feel guilty for saying ‘no’ to things; but please just remember that the choice is ultimately yours. It’s up to no one else but you to dictate what you can and can’t do with your life.
Three: Don’t continue to be unhappy, make changes
This could refer to any number of things, and is quite similar to point number two. I’ve experienced this personally, and known countless others who have done exactly the same thing: we sit on our hands in the hope that things will work themselves out and get better on their own. The truth is, if something doesn’t serve a purpose in your life any more, then let it go.
This obstacle can affect individuals from all different ages, for example; those who want to leave school but their parents are telling them sixth-form is the only way; or people who feel trapped within a particular job or maybe even a marriage/relationship. Lots of factors can contribute and lead up to this overwhelming feeling of being stuck. However, I urge you to push through it because I believe that one way or another you wind up where you’re supposed to be. Some people are lucky enough to land in that position straight away, but others need to try out a variety of different paths first, and that’s absolutely fine.
Four: Reflect on yourself, your life, and your behaviours
Make a conscious effort to practice self-reflection at the end of each day. Determine what went well in the day, and what maybe could’ve gone better. Think about whether you reacted appropriately to certain situations or if maybe outside emotions clouded your judgement. Self-reflection is known to increase confidence and emotional intelligence, because you’re building your own self-awareness and self-regulation. It’s helps people to understand why they act the way they do, and really figure out how they can live the most purposeful life possible.
Personally, one of the things I have to try hardest at on a daily basis is making sure I don’t take my bad moods out of those around me. For example, if I’ve come home from a stressful day at work and there’s a mess in the kitchen, I’m much more likely to let it bother me and say something to my partner about it. However, I try to make an effort to remind myself that it’s not the mess that stressed me out, it’s the work day itself.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself right now:
- What matters most to me in my life?
- If tomorrow was my last day on earth, what would I do?
- What am I most proud of today?
Five: Practice self-care every day
Ensure the time and love you dedicate to yourself outweighs or equals the time and love you give to others. When you start to feel run-down and exhausted, it’s a sign that you’re probably not taking good enough care of yourself and your well-being. Self-care can be as simple as taking a bath, cooking your favourite meal, or even getting an early night. However it’s crazy how much of a difference this can make to our mindset.
Learn your love language and use this to find out which self-care practices would be best for you. For example: if your love language is Acts of Service, then try to maintain a clean and tidy home environment; go for a walk; or set aside 10 minutes each evening to pamper yourself. Or if your love language happens to be Words of Affirmation, then consider practising daily affirmations or mantras, or take up journaling as a way to document something positive for each day or something that you’re grateful for.
If you haven’t found out your love language yet, you can take the quiz here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/
Six: Learn from your mistakes, and also the mistakes of others
Instead of looking at every little mishap as failures, choose to see them as an opportunity to learn and grow. No one is perfect. Most of what we know if a result of a mistake that either we or somebody else has made in the past. Don’t punish yourself for these little mistakes, because we need them in life to improve our judgement for the future. If you let yourself get consumed by past mistakes, you’ll never be able to move forward with your life.
Seven: Set yourself goals, and outline how you plan to achieve them
My last tip for living an intentional life is to set yourself goals. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to achieve, but it just seems like an impossible dream that’s unreachable. Well as cliché as it sounds, you honestly can make any of those goals happen. By officially setting yourself these goals, you’ll have a boost of motivation and you can start planning how you’re going to make those dreams a reality.
If you’re a more visual person, write these down and pin them on your notice board. Alternatively you can print off pictures and inspirational quotes that inspire you and make a vision board out of them. What I find helps me is giving myself deadlines. It gives me the push I need, for example, say I decided to complete an online course. I might tell myself I’d like to have it finished in six months. This gives you some encouragement because it’s not a looming deadline; but it’s also not too far away that you put it to the back of your mind.
Another thing I would recommend is breaking those goals down into more manageable targets; i.e. if there are twelve modules in the online course, that would work out to be two modules per month. It makes the process a lot less daunting and each small step brings you closer to your end goal. You can apply this system to any number of things, like revising for exams or saving for a big trip. Either way, this is what living an intentional life is all about.
For more blog posts relating to wellness and well-being, click here: http://www.emgoingplaces.com/category/well-being/