It seems like everybody is talking about intentional living lately, but what does it really mean? And why does it matter?
I’m so glad you asked.
I’m actually pretty passionate about intentional living, ever since I discovered it for myself a few years ago and it changed my life.
Here’s the short story:
I spent most of my twenties, like most women, busy living my life—going to school, building career(s), paying off a mortgage. I was tired and overwhelmed but I thought it was normal.
It was just part of being an adult, right?
Or so I told myself. Deep down, something inside me was screaming “this isn’t right!” but I didn’t the time or energy to listen. I was too worried about keeping my head above water.
Life was “go, go, go” and it felt like I was always chasing something—everything from new shoes to a new house.
I had my eyes on the prize … but I never stopped to ask myself if it worth chasing?
Did I need to own a house? Did I like being married? What did I want to do with my life?
I had no idea. I wasn’t asking these question. I was focused on just getting through the week.
How could I get through another boring day at the office? Did I have enough in the bank to pay the mortgage? When would I get caught up on my sleep?
I daydreamed about being somewhere else (hello palm trees and cocktails!) but I never really thought about doing something else—at least not very often. It made me feel too uncomfortable, which in retrospect was a sign that I needed to take a deeper look.
But I didn’t. Instead, it was easier to make life decisions based on what I saw around me (what everyone else was doing?) and to let the momentum of these choices drag me through life.
Days rolled into weeks, weeks rolled into years. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Until I discovered intentional living. Here’s what you need to know.
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7 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INTENTIONAL LIVING
INTENTIONAL LIVING IS ABOUT EXAMINING YOUR ‘WHY’
Intentional living is asking yourself why you do things—and then being happy with the answers.
Here are just a few questions to consider.
- Why are your friends your friends?
- Why did you buy [insert your latest purchase]?
- Why did you choose your career/job?
- Why are you with your partner?
- Why are you working late?
Now, how do your answers make you feel? Do they make sense? Or are they confusing or conflicting? Did you struggle to answer some of these questions?
Living with intention means closely examining these answers and if you’re not happy with what you see, re-examining your choices.
RELATED POST: 7 Questions to Inspire Intentional Living
IT’S NOT ABOUT HAVING EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT
Intentional living doesn’t mean you have to have your whole life figured out…
But it DOES mean is having a purpose behind your actions.
Consider the following two statements:
“I’m taking a creative writing class because I want to write the Great American novel before I’m thirty.”
“I’m taking a creative writing class because I feel inspired when I’m exploring my creativity and I’m considering writing a book one day.”
These are both examples of intentional living—even though the first person probably has a ten-year plan and the second person is still deciding what to make for dinner!
Know that you can choose to be intentional about your direction without knowing your final destination.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH YOUR CORE VALUES
You know that whole ‘direction/destination thing’ you just read?
Your core values are how you choose your direction.
You don’t need to have your whole life figured out, but you DO need to know what matters most to you.
Everyone’s core values are different. Mine include care for myself, care for my relationships, lifelong learning, and freedom (just to name a few).
If you have no idea what your core values are, start by thinking of moments when you’ve felt proud or happy and dig around. Generally, we feel good when we are living and acting in line with our values and we feel bad when we violate our values.
When you know your core values, you can make sure the life you’re living on the outside matches what your heart is saying on the inside.
NEXT, ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
A huge part of intentional living is accepting that you have the power to make choices.
This is where I was stuck for a long time. I wasn’t ready to make hard choices; staying stuck was easier (at least in the short term).
It’s easy to say things like:
- Life isn’t supposed to be fun.
- This is just the way things are.
- I’m ‘adulting’—this is what being a grown-up is supposed to mean.
And to then use these one-liners as excuses to live an ordinary life.
It’s difficult to acknowledge that there are other options, really awesome options actually, but it means doing hard work, facing criticism and making tough choices.
MAKE SMALL, REPEATED DECISIONS
Intentional living is about making the decision every day to live the life you want most.
For example, if you want to be an artist, you could make the big decision to go to art school … but this won’t make you an artist.
This act, on its own, will not change the course of your life.
You become an artist by picking up a paintbrush, or a sketchbook, and making art every day (even if it sucks).
Intentional living is deciding to go for a run in the morning or to bring a packed lunch. It’s saying ‘no’ to disposable coffee cups or deciding to spend 10 minutes with your children without distractions.
It’s asking yourself, every day, “what can I do today that will point me in the direction of my dreams?”.
RELATED POST: 7 Ways to Kick-start Your Simple Living Journey
KNOW THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER
“Intentional Living does not have a moral compass.” – The Finance Girl
Intentional living is about being honest and doing what feels right to you. There is no right or wrong answer as long as you’re being true to yourself.
INTENTIONAL LIVING IS A CONTINUOUS PROCESS
There is a popular urban myth in Australia about the Sydney Harbour Bridge: when the bridge painters get to the end, they go back to the beginning and start all over again.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true, which is a shame, because it’s a great analogy for intentional living.
There is no finish line. Living with intention means being in constant communication with yourself, deciding what’s working (and what’s not) and making small adjustments every day.
It’s hard work but it’s the best kind—creating a life you truly love.
FREE INTENTIONAL LIVING CHALLENGE
If you want to take the next step towards intentional living, then I invite you to join With Intention.
With Intention is a FREE challenge for anyone who is feeling stuck and needs help taking the very first steps towards Simple and Intentional Living.
Over the course of a week, I’ll take you through the pivotal moments of my personal journey towards simple and intentional living. You’ll find my stories, the lessons I learned and also simple activities YOU can do to live With Intention.
Over 1,400 people have taken the challenge and started living With Intention. Will you join them?
Stop living on auto-pilot and start living on purpose. ✨
How do you feel about your ‘why’? Are you ready for a change in direction or are you happy where you’re going? How are you living with intention today? Let me know in the comments! x