Inside: Are you looking for ways to be intentional in your everyday life? Here are 10 simple ways to bring an intentional focus to your daily 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 purpose and meaning.
Here are a few simple ideas to help you begin: ten 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 being intentional means.
I’ve been exploring this concept for the past decade 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? Who are your most important relationships? What is your purpose, and what makes you feel alive?
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 serve the best version of yourself.
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 a lot of people are so busy just trying to survive that they lose sight of their bigger purpose.
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 with 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. Learning to live in the present moment is an important part of an intentional lifestyle.
10 Ways To Be Intentional Every Day
Here are 10 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
- Know when it’s time to let go
1. 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 of 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 boundaries before you begin by asking the following questions —why am I doing this, and how does it serve me? If you don’t have a good answer, it might be time to do something else.
2. 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!). It’s a simple step towards a happier life because I truly believe that what we project is reflected back to us.
3. Do something that brings you joy
Perhaps the best way 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 appreciate life’s simple pleasures can completely change how you feel—but you need to be intentional about making yourself a priority. It’s so important for mental health and can help you find work-life balance, even when you’re stuck in the fast lane.
Related Post: How to Create a Culture of Slow Living
4. 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. It’s a small step but with enough time, this mindset shift can set you down the path of financial freedom.
Related Post: How to Be Happy With What You Have + Stop Wanting More
5. 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 good 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 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.
It’s a cornerstone of healthy relationships because always remember—one of the best gifts is the gift of your attention.
6. 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. Try adding this simple ritual into your daily routines:
- Take a few minutes every day to think about your values and priorities.
- 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?
- Finally, finish by setting your intentions for the next day. This will help you stay focused on what really matters most.
This habit leads to more intentional decisions and, as a bonus, helps me maintain a positive mindset.
Related Post: Why You Should Start a Journaling Habit + How to Begin
7. 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, one of the easiest ways 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 or take much time —it might be as simple as putting down your phone during a conversation or using a reusable coffee cup—but do something every single 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.
The Simply + Fiercely Show is a podcast for women who want to clear their clutter and create space for freedom and joy. If your life keeps getting bigger—but not better—then it’s time to declutter from the inside out. LISTEN NOW
8. Question your have to’s and should do’s
Is there anything you feel like you have to do every day? And what about your should do’s?
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 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. Then you can make your own choices about what is an important task or not, based on your goals.
9. 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!). Your future self will thank you for putting important activities like rest at the top of your to-do list
10. Know when it’s time to let go
There are so many things that can weigh us down—from the clutter in our closets to the thoughts in our minds. It keeps us clouded and confused; we can’t focus on what matters because we’re too distracted by everything that doesn’t.
The solution is to accept we all have limited resources and to let go. Declutter your home, let go of the past and practice self-forgiveness. Learn how to let go of the little things that bother you and stop comparing yourself to everyone else. It’s not easy, but with practice, you can get better at releasing everything that holds you back. It’s an essential part of living a more intentional life.
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.
Intentional Living Quotes
Here’s a list of my favourite intentional living quotes to inspire you!
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 Intentional Questions To Ask Yourself Every Day
- 4 Practical Steps To Living a Purposeful Life
- How Defining My Core Values Changed My Life
- 4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living
- 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 autopilot 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.
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