Do you ever feel like you’re living on autopilot? I know you’re probably always busy, chasing goals and checking off your to-do list … but are you actually getting anywhere? Do you feel happy and fulfilled or are you stuck going through the motions of life?
If these questions make you uncomfortable, then I encourage you to take steps towards creating an intentional 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 farther 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 truly love.
If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, then here’s a practical, step-by-step guide to help you start your own intentional living journey.
Why Choose An Intentional Life?
Let’s start by taking a quick look at the problem.
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—it can feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions.
When this happens, our lives feel cluttered and overwhelming. We’re so caught up with trying to do all the things that we think we “should” do that we’ve lost sight of what really matters. We start to feel adrift, always working and so SO busy, yet somehow we’re getting nowhere.
Intentional living 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 edit your life accordingly.
You won’t change your life overnight and I won’t pretend that it’s easy … but at the same time, it’s not complicated. Here are four practical steps to creating an intentional life.
4 Practical Steps To Creating An Intentional Life
DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS MEANS TO YOU
If you ask most people, my guess is they’d tell you that they are walking through life with a heavy load on their shoulders. There’s a 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 really 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?
This 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 own terms. Define your version of success and you’ll be free to write your own rules.
AUDIT YOUR LIFE
Once you define what success means to you, it’s time to audit your life.
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 completely out of alignment with my values, goals and priorities. I told myself I wanted one thing, but my actions told another story. I realised I couldn’t keep hiding from the truth and it was time to make a change.
This is the power of doing a life audit. You can’t hide from the truth—you’ll either affirm what’s on track or you’ll realise where 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
Your life audit will open your eyes—but if you don’t follow it up with action, then you’re not really living with intention. It’s time to “walk the walk” and start living the life you say you want.
Having said that, we both know that for most people change takes time. Intentional living doesn’t mean ignoring the realities of life! Instead, it involves being honest about what you can and can’t control. Look for opportunities and ask yourself, what’s one small thing you can do to start living true to yourself?
This might involve doing more of something … or it might mean doing less. 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, make one small change, and commit to following through.
CREATE AN ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM
At this stage, a lot of the people I work with feel excited and motivated to live with intention … but what happens when your motivation fades? Life will inevitably be busy and overwhelming at some stage and when this happens, it’s normal to lose sight of the big picture.
This doesn’t mean you’re failing in any way. Intentional living is not about 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 intentionally, your values and life vision are always there to guide you, so create a system that helps you reset when you need to.
Personally, I 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 something that 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 remember 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 what matters to you—no matter how far off track you find yourself—and you’ll be surprised at how much everything changes.
More Resources For Creating An Intentional Life
If you enjoyed this blog post and want to learn more about intentional living, then here are a few resources to help you on your journey.
- With Intention (A Free Intentional Living Challenge) — Over the course of a week, I’ll walk you through the pivotal moments of my own intentional living journey and I’ll share actionable ways YOU can start living with intention right away.
- Values + Vision (Online Course) — Alternatively, if you’re ready to take a deep dive into what matters, then I invite you to explore Values + Vision. I’ll show how to get crystal clear about what matters to YOU and then, I’ll break down the exact system I use to keep myself accountable and on track.
And here are a few of my most popular blog posts about intentional living:
- 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 an intentional life? If not, what’s holding you back from getting started today? Let me know in the comments! x