What Does It Mean to Live Intentionally?
Intentional living is deliberate and purposeful living. It’s about slowing down and consciously creating your experiences every day, including: in your relationships, how you spend your time, what you own, and how you care for your body/mind/soul.
In intentional living, there is a true presence in what you do and the choices you make and the things and people in your life add value.
Rather than passively getting caught up in the rat race and keeping up with the Joneses, you purposefully create your own life by being fully engaged.
True satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness come from this level of awareness and purpose.
Why Is It Hard to Be Deliberate and Intentional About the Way We Live?
Our lives can get pretty predictable and we fall into sort of a “groundhog day” of our typical habits really easily. We work hard, make money, spend it on car and mortgage payments, trendy clothes, cooler technology, more stuff for the kids and then we go to sleep, get up, and repeat.
Regardless of whether or not we’re living deliberately, life will continue to happen and we can tend to get swept up into circumstances decided by others: the promotions and trajectory someone else’s ideas say we should aspire to, our consumer culture’s ways of making us feel we have to own the latest and greatest and doing things we think we should be doing.
It is hard to fight against this and consciously carve our own path as best we can.
Why Would Someone Want to Be More Mindful of Moving to This Way of Living?
People will so often be searching to fill a void without even realizing it or are so turned on by the temporary high of consumerism, that it doesn’t bring lasting joy.
Oftentimes, this is the very distraction from joy.
We can also tend to lose sight of the fact that we are here for this one short life and that we don’t have to give in to all the external pressures but can find true happiness in our own ways.
You also may be surprised at how much more time you find in the day when you rid of the unnecessary stuff. A lot more time than we realize is spent caring for our possessions and caring about the superficial.
If we consistently feel stressed and as if there isn’t enough time in the day, it likely means we aren’t being very deliberate in our decision making.
Making shifts to live intentionally allows us to recognize how constantly we desire more or something different rather than investing in what we have.
We lose sight of the simple joys as we try to keep up or become “busier” and “more successful” and wear these as badges of honor.
What Are Some Ways We Can Start to Live More Intentionally?
First, recognize that each day is an opportunity to live this way and that it takes practice.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. You have one chance at your life. Commit to being purposeful in it…the way you need and want to be. It’s very individualized.
- Define a purpose. Identify what you want your life to communicate and contribute. Find a passion to live for that is bigger than yourself. It will bring new meaning to your life.
- Set goals. Set goals that are directly in line with your defined purpose and your personal values.
- Stay focused. We live in a world of constant connectivity and distraction that is begging for our attention nearly every moment of the day. Learn to turn off the distraction and live your life instead. Remove nonessential physical belongings that are robbing you of time and energy.
- Examine yourself and assess your values. Know who you are. Get a strong handle on your passions, talents, abilities, and weaknesses.
- Every so often, take an inventory of your “stuff” and think about whether these things bring meaning, purpose, fulfillment. What are those unnecessary possessions that you can rid of to make room for the more important things? Consider this a decluttering of people, stuff, and ideas.
- And, of course: practice mindfulness!