Are you looking for ways to be intentional in your everyday life?
Does it ever feel like you’re just going through the motions of life and not really headed anywhere? Do you feel stuck on autopilot? Or do you go to bed wondering if your days are well spent?
If so, you’re not alone. I walked that path for many years … living out of habit, doing what was expected of me, and wondering why I felt so lost on the inside.
Fortunately, I learned that it doesn’t have to be that way. When you embrace intentional living, you can live on your own terms and create a life of meaning and purpose.
Here are a few simple ideas to help you begin: nine ways to be intentional every day.
What Does It Mean To Be Intentional?
Before we dive into today’s list, let’s take a moment to talk about what it means to be intentional.
I’ve been exploring this concept for the past seven years and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a two-part process centred around living with purpose.
The first step is knowing what you want—what are your values, dreams, priorities and goals? Why do you get out of bed each morning? What is your purpose and what makes you feel alive?
Then once you have answers to these questions, the next step is to align your actions accordingly. How do you spend your time, money and energy? Are you living in alignment with what matters most to you? If not, what needs to change?
This doesn’t mean that an intentional life is a perfect life—but it is a purposeful life. It’s finding the courage to let go of things that no longer serve you (even when it goes against convention) and to pursue things that make you feel alive.
There are still sacrifices and trade-offs but when you live with intention you know what you’re giving up and why. It’s about knowing what you can and cannot control and taking responsibility for your life and happiness.
How To Be Intentional
Of course, in reality, living with intention is often easier said than done.
For starters, it’s not always clear what you want out of life—after all when was the last time you asked yourself the question? I know I was in my thirties before I even started thinking about it!
And then, once you have clarity around this personal vision, it can be hard to know where to start (especially when you feel deeply out of alignment). How do you begin when there’s an ocean between where you are and where you want to be?
The answer is the same way you start everything in life.
You take a small step forward, and then another, and then another … and then with time those small steps become big steps and you’ll surprise yourself by how far you’ve come.
Keep reading for inspiration on how to take those first few steps.
Note: I should clarify that even though intentional living is forward-thinking, it’s more about the journey than the eventual outcome. No matter where you are in life, it’s the choices you make every day that define you and ultimately, bring a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
9 Ways To Be Intentional Every Day
Here are nine simple ways to be intentional every day:
- Be mindful of the media you consume
- Choose to be kind
- Do something that brings you joy
- Ask “why” before you buy
- Practice active listening
- Make time for self-reflection
- Do something you can be proud of
- Question your “have to’s”
- Prioritise rest and self-care
BE MINDFUL OF THE MEDIA YOU CONSUME
Between TV, social media, your inbox and blogs like this one—odds are you consume a lot of media content every day.
This isn’t automatically a bad thing. After all, it’s a way of sharing stories, exploring new ideas and connecting with others. When we’re mindful about how and why we seek out information, it can add a lot of value to our lives.
Of course, it can also have the reverse effect too. If you’ve ever gotten lost down an Internet “rabbit hole” then you know how easy it is to waste time. Even worse, it can lead to unhealthy comparisons, feelings of diminished self-worth, overwhelm and for some, even anxiety.
The key is to be mindful with social media and all other forms of media as well. Set intentions and boundaries before you begin—ask yourself why am I doing this and how does it serve me. If you don’t have a good answer, it might be a time to do something else.
CHOOSE TO BE KIND
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” ― Harold S. Kushner
When you choose to be kind, you’re making an intentional choice about the type of person you want to be. If you value kindness, look for ways to be kind every day (and don’t forget that self-kindness is important too!).
DO SOMETHING THAT BRINGS YOU JOY
One of the simplest ways to be intentional every day is to do something that brings you joy. It’s such a powerful means of adding value to your life but it’s so often overlooked.
Sadly, I think it’s because we’ve been conditioned to put the “hustle” before our own happiness. We feel like we need to be productive all the time—and we feel productive when we’re working towards a socially acceptable definition of success (usually money and material goods).
But what about YOUR definition of success? Is it really about getting the most done? Maybe success is more about a cup of tea and a good book?
Or whatever makes you happy … the point is finding even just a few minutes every day to do something that brings you joy can completely change how you feel about your life—but you need to be intentional about making yourself a priority.
Related Post: How to Create a Culture of Slow Living
ASK “WHY” BEFORE YOU BUY
One of the biggest “ah-ha” moments on my simple and intentional living journey was when I started thinking about money in terms of time.
Most people who work for a living trade their time for money. This means if you earn $20 per hour and you buy a $20 sweater, then you have sacrificed an hour of your life in exchange for an item of clothing.
How does that make you feel?
There’s no right or wrong answer but the point is we must be intentional with our purchases. Ask why before you buy and question how it’s adding value to your life. Then ask yourself if the expense is really worth it?
Related Post: How to Be Happy With What You Have + Stop Wanting More
PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING
Intentional living is personal—what matters to me might not be important to you. Having said that, I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t place some value on their relationships.
We all want to feel connected and one way of creating connection is by intentionally practising active listening.
This is a really helpful guide on how to practise active listening but in summary, it’s about listening to understand instead of listening to respond.
You can show the people in your life that you care by making an effort to really hear what they have to say and by resisting the urge to centre their stories on yourself. Instead of thinking about how you’re going to respond, do your best to understand their point of view.
MAKE TIME FOR SELF-REFLECTION
Making time for self-reflection is absolutely essential for intentional living—it’s how you know you’re on the right track.
Take a few minutes every day to think about your values and priorities. Then ask yourself how your schedule, your spending and even your home reflect this vision.
If you’re not happy with your answers, what are one or two small things you could work on to bring yourself into alignment? Think about what you need more and less of in your life.
Finally, finish by setting your intentions for the next day. This will help you stay focused on what really matters most.
Related Post: Why You Should Start a Journaling Habit + How to Begin
DO SOMETHING YOU CAN BE PROUD OF
At the very start of this article, I asked if you ever go to bed wondering whether your days are well spent.
If this resonated with you, a simple way of adding purpose to your every day is by intentionally doing something that you can be proud of.
It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture—it might be as simple as putting down your phone during a conversation or using a reusable coffee cup—but do something every day and then celebrate it too! For a few minutes, stop worrying about everything you’re not and instead, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
QUESTIONS YOUR “HAVE TO’S”
Is there anything you feel like you “have to” do every day?
I think that for most people, the answer is yes—and it’s often a long list! We all have things that we feel like we “have to” do … but where do these beliefs come from?
Who told you that you have to and when was the last time you questioned it?
Now obviously, there are some things we really have to do every day but don’t make assumptions without taking a closer look first.
For example, when I first started blogging, I thought that I “had to” be on Twitter. A mentor had mentioned it so I made it a priority every day even though it drove me nuts. Then one day, I asked myself why …
Because someone else told me to and now because it’s what I’ve always done.
I realised that Twitter wasn’t adding any actual value to my life or my blog and I decided to stop. I gave myself permission to do what was best for me and you can too—but the first step is to start asking questions.
PRIORITISE REST AND SELF-CARE
Finally, every single person reading this should be intentional about prioritising rest and self-care.
Why? Because if you don’t take care of yourself, then nothing else matters. You might be able to get by for a while but eventually, if you neglect your physical and mental wellbeing, you’ll run out of steam.
I know it can be hard to do when you’re busy but here are some practical self-care tips (find out how I learned to practice self-care without it feeling like something else on my to-do list!).
An Intentional Living Journaling Exercise
If the ideas on this list don’t resonate with you, here’s a simple intentional living journaling exercise that will help you find something that does.
STEP 1: Think of three times when you felt truly alive and explore these memories in your journal. What happened that made you feel the way you did?
STEP 2: Next, ask yourself what’s one small thing could you do to replicate this feeling every day? Brainstorm ideas.
And of course, the final step is to follow through with intentional action! Start doing more of what makes you feel alive every day and commit to making it a regular habit.
Read More About Intentional Living
If you’d like to read more about intentional living, here are a few more posts I’ve written on the topic:
- 7 Questions to Inspire Intentional Living
- How Defining My Core Values Changed My Life
- 4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living
- How Mindful Spending Helps You Live a Life You Love
- 14 Ways to Stop Living for the Weekends
Free Intentional Living Challenge
I also invite you to join me for With Intention, a free intentional living challenge designed to help you stop living on auto-pilot and start living on purpose.
HOW THE CHALLENGE WORKS
Over the course of a week, you’ll get four emails with a link to each lesson.
In the lessons, 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.
Simply use the form below to sign up or click here to learn more.
Over 1,800 people have taken the challenge and started living With Intention. Will you join them?
What are your tips for living with intention every day? Let me know in the comments—I’d love to hear from you! x