Intentional Living is another great resource for your collection of tools for a peaceful life
What does intentional living mean? Well to understand intentional living, it helps to understand the definition.
Intentional comes from the word intend, which, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary says in its Collegiate Definition that Intend means:
- transitive verb
- 1 a: to have in mind as a purpose or goal : PLAN b: to design for a specified use or future
- 2 a: SIGNIFY, MEAN b: to refer to
- 3: to direct the mind on
- 4 archaic : to proceed on (a course)
- intransitive verb
- archaic : SET OUT, START
Intentional just means to intend.
I like the definitions in numbers one and three, but if you look at all of the options together, it gives us a better sense of being intentional. In a nutshell, when you have an intention, you have a purpose or goal in mind, plan, direct your mind to it, and proceed. For some people this comes naturally, but most of us can use a little help.
Here are some things to think about when choosing to life an intentional life:
You have to decide what you want
There are days when the last thing I want to do is to make a decision. Decisions can be hard, and they often take work, and worst of all, they can be a bit out of my comfort zone. However, you can’t be intentional with your life if you don’t make some important decisions on what you intend to do. On a lighter note, for this exercise the decisions aren’t that hard (at first).
Set aside time to decide what you want. What do you (or don’t you) want in your life? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to do ten years from now – or twenty, or thirty? Don’t hold back – grab a piece of paper or a notepad, title it “What I Want” and just start writing. Just write the first things that come to your mind. It may take you off in a direction you didn’t intend to go, but go there anyway. Keep writing until there is nothing left to write.
Here’s a tip – if you are feeling overwhelmed by the task, set yourself a timer for fifteen minutes and tell yourself that when the timer is up, you can stop for today or choose to go on. If you finish your list, that’s great. If not, come back to it Don’t wait too long, it’s good to do this within a period of a few hours or a few days.
Review your list
Once your list is done, do a quick review to see if it makes sense. Is there anything you absolutely don’t want on your list? It’s your list, so just take it off – there are no hard and fast rules here. Is there anything you may have forgotten to add? Well, then add it in.
Find ten items that you feel are the most important to you and highlight them in some way. You could use an actual highlighter, circle the items, underline them, or just put a star or asterisk next to it. You want these items to stand out.
Check your core values and beliefs
The next step in reviewing our list is to be sure every one of our items align with our core values and beliefs. We are created for a purpose, and to live an intentional life, everything we do should align with that purpose in some way.
You may be wondering what I mean by core beliefs and values so I’ll share a few of each of mine. A few of my basic values are honesty, authenticity, and truth. My core beliefs include the belief that everyone deserves a safe place to live, everyone has the freedom to choose and must live with the consequences of their choice whether it is good or bad, and that we should all love each other unconditionally regardless of what a person believes. There are many more, but these are just a few to help get you thinking.
If the items on your list don’t align with your values and beliefs, ask yourself why. Then check your list, and check your values and beliefs. It is important to have them on the same plain or you will never have a peaceful life.
Don’t take the easy way out
Now it’s time to put that list into action. Don’t try to do everything at once. (Remember the question, how do you eat an elephant?) Pick some things you can start today – but don’t take the easy way out – pick one simple item, two moderately challenging items, and at least one tough one. Add a date to when you plan to finish, or write ongoing, if this is a lifestyle choice.
After you have picked the top items and assigned dates, go through the rest of your list and do the same. You may want to work on this over time, as you see the rest of your list evolving. Keep your list fluid, adding to it as needed. You may even find that there are some things that need to be remove – just be sure they are removed for the right reason.
Now why is this section titled, “Don’t take the easy way out?” It’s because we tend to take the path of least resistance It’s easy to check all the easy items off the list first, but not necessarily the best way. Sometimes we have to prioritize being intentional above being comfortable.
To be intentional, and to follow your life’s purpose, requires a conscious choice. Review your list frequently. Continuously ask yourself these questions:
- Is this in alignment with my values?
- Is this the most effective thing I could be doing right now?
- Am I being true to my purpose?
One step at a time
Remember, intentional living is not like a light switch. You can’t just turn it on when you want to. It’s a process best accomplished one step at a time.
We are conditioned to want something and get it quickly. If you get frustrated with your progress, remember the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Give yourself grace along the way and stay focused on the goal.
Once you have considered all the above, remember that the key to being intentional for a more peaceful life is to be mindful in everything you do. It seems like we hear the term mindfulness a lot lately, but did you ever consider that’s because it is the answer to so many issues?
Mindfulness includes all areas of your existence – your thoughts, your intentions, your actions, and your life’s purpose. Staying present in the moment, and staying focused are also two very important parts of being mindful. Once you realize how important mindfulness is, make it a priority, and practice it every moment of the day, you will be living an intentional life.
Find your purpose – find your joy