Listen to your heart, do more of what you love and let go of all the rest.
Hello and welcome to Day 2 of With Intention, a week-long challenge designed to help you take the first steps towards simple and intentional living!
I want to begin today by saying a big thank you to everyone for supporting this challenge so far, with a special mention to those of you who took time to share your story in the comment section.
Writing online for the past few years has taught me that one of the biggest gifts we can offer the world is to share our stories and let others know they are not alone, so thank you for your generosity. ??
And speaking of sharing stories, as a reminder, I’m Jennifer and I created this challenge because I have a story to share with you.
A few years ago, I went from living a life “half-lived” to living with purpose. This means I stopped mindlessly doing what was expected of me and instead, made the decision to start living on my own terms. I learned how to clear the clutter from my life (both mental and physical) and now I have the time, space and energy for the things that really matter.
This change has brought so much joy to my life and now, I do my best to share what I’ve learned with others. When I think about how I used to feel in my daily life—overwhelmed, stuck, and hopeless—and I realise that there are many other people who still feel this way, every day, it breaks my heart because I know that something else is possible.
If this is you and you’re tired of just “going through the motions”, then it’s my sincere hope that something in this challenge will help you find your way forward. ✨
RECAP: Day 1 of With Intention was all about “waking up” to how we live our lives and then making the decision to choose the intentional path.
It’s a deceptively simple step but it’s SO important; you must reach a point where you draw a line in the sand and decide that you’re not going to settle for “just good enough” any longer.
To be clear, simple and intentional living doesn’t mean that you will have everything figured out, automatically achieve every goal you set for yourself, or never have to deal with stress again—BUT it does mean that you will move forward with purpose.
It’s a slow and imperfect process of crafting a life you love; it’s about trying—and sometimes failing—but it’s better than sitting on the sidelines and watching life pass you by.
WHAT TO EXPECT: During this challenge, 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.
One thing that has always amazed me about life is how so much can change in such a short time—and this was certainly the case in 2012.
When we last spoke, I was telling you about my 30th birthday. I was celebrating in Australia with my husband, family and friends, and while I was definitely feeling unsettled on the inside, on the outside my life was safe and stable.
I was in a long-term relationship, I owned my own home, I had a respectable job and a shoe collection big enough to warrant its own closet … but by my 31st birthday, it was all gone.
It wasn’t planned—I didn’t wake up one day and decide to start over—but over the course of a year, my life unravelled.
I actually started by decluttering my home, which somehow led to a decision to leave my job and then to my surprise, things snowballed very quickly.
Within six months, I sold almost all my belongings, found a tenant for my house, left my job and moved to the other side of Australia. I was broke—in debt actually—but I maxed out my credit cards because I felt a desperate need for change.
But here’s the thing … it was a dramatic move but it wasn’t an act of intentional living. I wasn’t moving towards anything. Instead, I was running away from my life and not surprisingly, I soon found that my problems had followed me.
I was in a different town, with a different job and different friends, yet somehow nothing had changed. I still felt stuck and unsettled; I was longing for some different but I still didn’t know what I wanted or needed.
Again, I want to point out that I wasn’t so self-aware at the time. I wasn’t thinking, just reacting and when my big move didn’t bring me the satisfaction I’d hoped for, I decided to take things even further and cut the remaining ties to my old life.
After seven years, my marriage was over* and I bought a one-way ticket out of Australia.
On the morning of my 31st birthday, I woke up in the guest bedroom of my mother’s house in suburban Maryland, feeling pretty lost and alone.
I was single, unemployed, broke and embarrassed—and I was in way over my head. I had responsibilities, bills, steadily mounting debt and no idea how I was going to dig myself out the hole I’d created.
I had fulfilled the promise I made to myself on my 30th birthday; a year had passed and everything was different—just not in the way I’d hoped. ?
But there was a small light at the end of the tunnel…
That summer, with no expectations and no one to please, I started a journey of self-reflection—something I’d never really done before.
In the past, I’d always been too busy. Between long hours at work and my never-ending to-do list, making time to reflect had never seemed like a priority (or in truth, it seemed like a pretty unproductive way to way to spend my time).
But things were different now. I had plenty of time and nothing but questions, big ones like: “What did I want my life to look like?”
Strangely enough, it felt like the first time I’d ever asked this question—or at least, the first time I ever honestly answered it! I began exploring my personal values, learning about minimalism, and examining the choices that had shaped my life.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was another turning point. Slowly, I was creating the foundation upon which I rebuilt my life.
But more on that in part three of this challenge! For now, let’s focus on building a strong, intentional foundation for the next stage of YOUR life.
*Side note: I’ve received some feedback that I sound blasé about the end of my marriage. I can assure you this isn’t the case—it was a painful and difficult decision—but I’m not comfortable talking about the details online (hence the brevity in my writing).
Are you ready to take action and start living with intention?
If I could go back in time and give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be this:
If you want to live a life you truly love, the first and most important step is to define what matters most to you. After all, if you don’t know what you want your life to look like, how can you create it?
Friends, I can’t tell you how much I wish someone had given me this advice.
When I think about all the hours I’ve worked, all the money I’ve spent and all the tears I’ve cried—I’ve given up so much of myself chasing things that I didn’t really want or need.
I realise now that I could have spared myself a lot of pain and heartache by simply making time for self-reflection—so don’t make my mistake!
If you’re serious about living with intention, take a few minutes right now to think about what matters most to you.
Imagine you were in my shoes and starting your life over; if tomorrow was a blank slate, what kind of life would you create for yourself?
One simple way of doing this is to think about what makes a day a “good day” for you? When your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, how do you know it was a day well spent?
I encourage you not to get caught up with the big picture—don’t write down a list of goals you want to achieve. Instead, think about how you want to feel as you move through your day.
When you’re finished, let us know in the comments what makes a day a “good day” for you?
Is it a few minutes in the sunshine? Finding time to read a few pages of a good book? Or is it a long belly laugh with a loved one? ?
Write these things down! And if you’re feeling brave, share your answers below. The Simply + Fiercely community is warm and welcoming, and you never know if sharing your story might help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.
PS: I know from the comments that some of you are struggling and I understand that when life’s hard, it’s easy to look at activities like this and think “what’s the point?”.
I know this because I’ve made this exact mistake a million times over. I remember looking at my life and feeling so hopelessly off-track—I thought it was too late to change anything so why bother trying. ??♀️
If you feel this way, then I want to be honest with you: doing this activity won’t change your life overnight … BUT if you’re open to it, it might be the first step on a journey to something better.
The choice is yours.
All the best,