Living with intention means being in the driver’s seat of your life. Are you the one directing your life or is your life directing you?
We all know that what happens in life cannot truly be controlled by anyone. There are many things which are imposed upon all of us each day whether we like it or not.
However, what you can control is the trajectory that you put yourself on and how you react to the experiences that you encounter. That is living intentionally!
Living a life of intention is critical to your happiness and success. If you’re not living with intention, you risk wasting much of your short time here on Earth.
What exactly does it mean to live with intention?
Living life with intention means that you are leading your life. It means that you are the one who determines the path you take that you are being mindful and selective about how you spend your time.
Living a life of intention is critical to your happiness and success.
It means that you are creating an environment in which you can thrive and consistently grow as a person. It means fully immersing yourself in your experiences.
So – How can you live more intentionally?
Follow These 5 Steps to Live With Intention:
Below are five steps to living a life with more intention, and thriving as a result.
1. Grow to Understand Yourself
Many people truly don’t understand themselves or know who they are at the core, and many will never truly know themselves. However, that doesn’t have to be true for you. It is absolutely possible to gain a deep insight into what your dreams, motivations, desires and needs are.
Getting to know yourself isn’t easy, and often requires a lot of hard work. But it is possible – and fully worth the work.
Emotional intelligence is having an understanding of yourself in order to better manage your emotions and your reactions to those emotions.
When you move through life with a lack of understanding about who you are and what you need, then you can be easily manipulated into following a path that is ill-suited for you.
On the contrary, when you have a good understanding of what motivates and fulfills you, you are much more able to avoid a fork in the road that could lead you to a place of unfulfillment and unhappiness.
Life is too short for things that do not serve your needs and desires. Understanding yourself is the first step to living intentionally.
2. Appreciate Your Uniqueness
Do you truly appreciate yourself for who you are, uniqueness and all? Self-acceptance can be really difficult, especially when you feel different.
The things that set you apart from others can sometimes feel like a burden, but they aren’t. Your uniqueness is not only what makes you YOU, it is also what makes you great. There is no better you than you and this world needs YOU.
If you’re not living with intention, you risk wasting much of your short time here on Earth.
As Anaïs Nin said, “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”
3. Discover Your Purpose and Passion
Passion and purpose are distinct.
Purpose, often referred to as Dharma, is what drives you and is the reason that you do what we do. Purpose provides you with a direction in life. If you have a purpose, you are able to figure out what you want to achieve or express and you can then look for ways of doing just that.
Purpose isn’t a goal.
Instead, when you have a purpose, you can then build a list of goals that support your purpose. Generally, purpose is outwardly focused on the greater impact that you can have on others and your surroundings.
Passion is about emotions. It is what motivates us to do good work. Passion is generally wild, exciting, and in need of organization. In general, our passion is inwardly focused on things that fulfill our needs and desires.
Once you have done the work of getting to know yourself, it should be easier to figure out your passion. Finding your purpose can be a little trickier.
Discovering your purpose requires you to reflect on your gifts, values, and what you would like to contribute to the world. The good news is that your purpose is already within you – you just need to do the work to uncover it.
Establishing your purpose is absolutely necessary in living with intention.
Ask yourself these six questions to help you with the process:
1. How will the world be better off because of me?
2. What are my unique superpowers?
3. Who have I been when I’ve been at my best?
4. How can I express my special gifts and characteristics?
5. Who must I fearlessly become?
6. What can I introduce into my life that will give me fulfillment, joy, and a sense of direction?
4. Adjust Your Expectations
While expectations can be dangerous, they are not inherently a bad thing. It is the unspoken expectations that lead to negative feelings. When situations and/or people disappoint you, this is when you need to reassess the reality of the situation and then revise your expectations accordingly.
However, you must be certain that the other individuals involved have a solid understanding of your expectations to avoid disappointment in the future.
Similarly, it is ill advised to censor your expectations of an event or individual in order to avoid discomfort. For example, moving through life with the mindset, “I always expect the worst so that I won’t be disappointed when things go poorly,” isn’t an emotionally healthy way to live.
When situations and/or people disappoint you, this is when you need to reassess the reality of the situation and then revise your expectations accordingly.
Settling with feeling bad now so that you won’t feel bad later simply allows you to avoid doing the hard work of dealing with disappointment when and if it occurs.
Lastly, this type of attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you’re focused on potential negative outcomes, how could anything positive make its way in?
Having realistic, grounding expectations is a very direct way to maintain a life lived with intention.
5. Be Present and Cultivate Mindfulness
Living with intention truly begins when we can embrace that the only thing that truly matters is the present moment. The past and the present are imaginary. Our recollection of past experiences is tainted and distorted within seconds after an event happens.
Likewise, we do not know what will happen in the future no matter how much time we spend thinking about it. To be present means to be wholeheartedly engaged in what you are doing and what is going on right now. It means to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present.
It is so easy to get caught up in the past, present, or non-specific mental chatter when we are doing routine tasks like taking a shower or doing laundry. But the here and now is your real home, not the past and future. The more time you spend in the present, the easier it will be to remain present.
Mindfulness and presence are quite similar, but there is a distinction. Being present sets you up to be mindful. If you’re not present, you cannot be mindful.
Mindfulness is the key ingredient to intentional living! Read: What You Need to Know About Mindfulness and How to Start Practicing It Regularly
To live mindfully means to be grounded, self-aware, reflective, and observant of yourself, your surroundings, and the people in them. Living with this greater awareness helps expand your horizons and provide you with more detailed information about what is going on which helps you to make better decisions.
This awareness and presence is wonderful for your relationships as well. When you are fully present and engaged with your friends and loved ones, you’re better able to communicate and notice when things need to be addressed.
Cultivate presence and mindfulness by establishing simple daily habits:
- Check in with yourself: Take a few moments to check in with yourself 3-4 times a day. It only takes a few moments! Scan your body and take note of how your body, mind, and spirit feels. Set an alarm to remind yourself
- Pay attention to your breath: This is particularly useful when you’re feeling stressed. Is your breath shallow or deep? Smooth or erratic? Your mind will follow your breath. If your breath is shallow and erratic, your mind will feel stressed
- Notice the things around you: When you’re walking to your car, to the store, or anywhere, take note of your surroundings like a pretty tree, a cute bird, a strange colored house, a stray cat, or an oddly placed picture. Noticing your surroundings will bring you into the present moment
- Meditation: Even just five minutes a day spent in quiet stillness can make a huge difference
Calm Mind is an online guided meditation you can practice on YA Classes
With Carisa Banuelos
20-Minute Class | All Levels
Live With Intention: It’s the Best Way to Live Your Life!
The process of living a life with intention isn’t easy. Cultivating emotional intelligence, self-awareness, presence, and mindfulness is challenging.
Take your time. Intentional living is a journey that you will continue on your entire life.
Some days, self-discovery is painful and daunting, but in the end, it is SO worth it because this journey is also beautiful and rewarding.
Have any additional tips for intentional living? Have questions about how to start living with intention? Tell us in the comments below – we love hearing from you!