Do you ever feel like you’re living on autopilot? I know you’re busy chasing goals and checking things off your to-do list … but are you getting anywhere? Do you feel happy and fulfilled, or are you stuck going through the motions of life?
If these questions make you uncomfortable, I encourage you to consider whether you’re living a purposeful life.
I say this with compassion and understanding because I’ve been there. I spent longer than I’d like to admit stuck in a life half-lived. I did what was expected of me, and I was “successful” on the outside—but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Deep down, I felt trapped and hopeless. I knew that I wanted something more out of life, but I didn’t know what to do or where to start looking. (And honestly, I didn’t have much time to think about it, so I just stayed stuck.)
Fortunately, I eventually discovered intentional living, and slowly but steadily, I changed the course of my life. I took back control, started living on my terms, and created a messy but beautiful life I genuinely love.
If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, then here’s a practical, step-by-step guide to help you on your journey towards a purposeful life.
What Makes a Purposeful Life?
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a LOT of noise in the world today. Between social media, well-intentioned loved ones, and society in general, everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing and who you should be.
With so many expectations and competing priorities in life—it can feel like you’re pulled in a million different directions.
When this happens, our lives feel cluttered and overwhelming. We’re so caught up with trying to do everything we think we “should” do that we’ve lost sight of what matters. We start to feel adrift, always working and so SO busy, yet somehow we’re getting nowhere.
A purposeful life is about tuning out the noise, rejecting external expectations, and looking inwards for guidance. You get to decide your purpose in life—what really matters to you—and then you make the conscious decision to align your life accordingly.
It’s not about changing your entire life overnight. Instead, it’s about small shifts to do more of what matters and less of everything else. Here are four steps that will help you get started with purposeful living.
4 Practical Steps To Living a Purposeful Life
Define what success means to you
I think most people are walking through life with a heavy load on their shoulders. There’s constant pressure to DO and BE so many things … but how much of that weight isn’t yours to carry?
Take a moment and think about all the things you’re trying to achieve—and then, ask yourself why you want these things. Is it because it’s what matters to you?
Or is it what matters to your parents, your neighbours, or someone you saw on TV. Are you chasing your hopes and dreams … or someone else’s?
If you’ve never done it before, I highly recommend that you sit down with a pen and paper and define what success means to you. What exactly are you chasing, and perhaps more importantly, how will you know will you get there?
It might sound like a strange question, but so many people lack a clear definition of “enough” in their lives and, as a result, never feel satisfied with what they have. Instead, they’re stuck in a loop of wanting more, more and MORE.
Break free by making a conscious decision to live on your terms. Define your version of success, and you’ll be free to write your own rules.
Audit your life
It’s time to take a long hard look at how you’re spending your time, money and energy. Be honest with yourself, and if you’re not confident in your answers, consider tracking your activities for a few days. You want to gather as much information as possible about how you’re spending your life.
Then when you’re ready, the next step is to compare the life you’re currently living with the life you want to create. What do you see?
I’ll admit this can be an eye-opener for many people. The first time I did this activity, it was sobering to realise how much time I spent working and shopping … and how little time I spent taking care of myself or connecting with my loved ones.
My life was out of alignment with my values, goals and priorities. I told myself I wanted one thing, but my actions told another story.
I realised that if I wanted to live a purposeful life, I couldn’t keep hiding from the truth. It was time to make a change.
Doing a life audit is powerful because you can’t hide from the truth. You’ll either realise that on track, or you’ll discover you’ve gotten lost. Either way, you’ll walk away with a better sense of what you need to live an intentional life.
Make one small change
Doing a life audit can open your eyes—but if you don’t follow it up with action, then you’re not living with intention. It’s time to “walk the walk” and start living the life you say you want.
Having said that, we all know that change can take time. Purposeful living doesn’t mean ignoring the realities of life. After all, there will always be bills to pay and children to feed.
But we do need to be honest about what we can and can’t control. Just because we can’t change everything overnight doesn’t mean we can’t start with one small step.
So ask yourself, “Where can I begin?” What is one tiny shift you can make today? There are no right or wrong answers, but here are a few things you might want to consider:
- The media you consume (news, social media, etc.)
- Your relationships and who you spend time with
- Your spending habits
- Your physical environment
- Your schedule and to-do list
Don’t get overwhelmed if there are a lot of things you want to change. Just pick a starting point, focus on one thing, and then take the next step when you’re ready.
Create an accountability system
At this stage, many people I work with feel excited and motivated to live with intention … but what happens when your motivation fades? Life can be busy and overwhelming, and it’s normal to lose sight of the big picture.
Losing focus doesn’t mean you’re failing in any way. Intentional living is not about being perfect, and we all get derailed from time to time. Your mistakes don’t define you. Instead, what matters is what you do when you lose your way.
When you live with purpose, your values are always there to guide you. And with the right accountability system, you’ll be able to press the reset button whenever you need it.
I like to use my journal to check in with myself on a daily and weekly basis. I highly recommend this system, but ultimately, you have to find what works for you.
Set a reminder on your phone, catch up with a like-minded friend every week, or create a vision board and put it where you can’t miss it. The “how” isn’t important—what matters is that you set aside time for regular self-reflection.
- Do you need to get back to basics and connect with what matters?
- Do you need to recommit to following through with intentional action?
- Or are you ready to uplevel and take on a new challenge?
You don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to keep showing up. Keep coming back to your purpose—no matter how far off track you find yourself—and you’ll be surprised at how much everything changes.
Learn More About Creating a Purposeful + Intentional Life
If you’re feeling inspired to learn more about intentional living, here are a few resources you might enjoy.
- 10 Intentional Living Books That Will Make This Your Best Year Ever
- 9 Ways To Be Intentional Every Day
- 7 Questions to Inspire Intentional Living
- 4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living
Are you living a purposeful life? If not, what’s holding you back from getting started today? Let me know in the comments! x