Intentional living gets thrown around a lot, so I want to give you a better, more useful way of thinking about intentional living.
This will help you set and achieve your goals and design the life that you want.
I live very intentionally.
My life today is unrecognizable from what it was 5 years ago.
I tell you this so you understand that you have created the life you have now, and if you want it to be different, then it can be! It’s possible.
So, here’s a look at the truth about how to live an intentional life…
If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — How To Live An Intentional Life.
Why Live An Intentional Life At All?
It’s worth examining WHY you would want to live an intentional life in the first place.
I think the biggest reason is so that you can live life on your own terms. It’s so you can design your version of your dream life.
If you don’t live intentionally, you won’t be able to live the exact life you want.
Some people will want to live life at the highest level. I like to think professional athletes, leaders of state, or top executives, or business owners. Others won’t want to achieve at the highest level, but they’ll design a life on their dream level, as a teacher, yoga instructor, fisherman, etc.
The point is that when you live intentionally, you get to decide what’s best for you.
When you decide on purpose to what extent you want to achieve, you are in control of your life and you are taking responsibility for it. And you get to decide on purpose what that dream life looks like.
I’m not wanting you to constantly hustle and achieve more, it’s that I want you to learn how to create the exact version of life that you want.
Designing your life from your future, instead of repeating your past.
(More on designing your dream year from your future in this podcast.)
And it’s worth mentioning that by achieving more, you’re not more worthy or better than someone in any way. You don’t have to do anything to be worthy. You’re already are worthy.
Everyone is different and has a different attitude toward goals and how they approach them. If someone doesn’t want to set goals, it doesn’t make them any more or less worthy. The point is to decide on purpose what your dream life looks like.
Is it where you are growing, up-leveling, and setting goals? Or is it not?
Without awareness of this, you can’t create an intentional life.
Basically I like to think of intentional living as learning the rules of the game of life (not the board game), so you can create it exactly how you want. Life is a game that you can get really good at mastering. There are many different rules, components of the game and strategies to succeed.
Most people are just completely unaware of the game altogether, but some people are just unaware of the rules and strategies, and acting as if their life is happening to them, so they create more of their past. They blame others for their life and what happens to them.
Intentional living means you learn the rules of the game so you can create the results and the life you want.
Now that we have figured out WHY we should live an intentional life, let’s dive into the steps to create an intentional life…
Step 1: Become Aware Of Where You Are And Who You Are
Awareness is the first and most important step.
Without awareness, nothing else matters.
Most people will live a full life, and will never be aware of their life or that they are the creator of their life.
They will, of course, be aware that they are alive, they have a certain job, that they make a certain amount of money, things like that, which are more about results.
I’m talking about awareness from the perspective of the watcher.
Awareness means you take responsibility for all the results in your life.
You look at your life with intention and say, “How did I create this?” “What did I create?” “What values do I have?”
It’s an awareness of your thoughts and your feelings, of your actions, and of your results.
You can’t live intentionally if you don’t understand where you are now, and that includes who you are.
The difference being one is based on results and the other is based on values. It’s like saying 1) how much money do I make?, and 2) am I kind?
Awareness means you’re aware of your own life–everything in it and outside of it.
You’re aware of your own personal values. You see what you value most (whether that’s kindness, generosity, love, commitment, etc.).
You’re aware that you’re the creator of everything in your life.
You take responsibility for how you think, feel, and act. You don’t blame anything outside of you for how you feel.
You also are aware of everything outside of your life that you can’t control. This is your circumstance.
You’re aware of circumstances without judging them. This is hard to do! Most people don’t ever even master this step.
For example, my circumstance was my dad was an alcoholic, which was outside of me, and something I had no control over it, and I did not judge him for it.
We are naturally prone to blaming other people for the results in our lives. This is why this is so hard.
I used to be unaware of how I was the creator of my life.
I blamed my parents.
I blamed the student loan “epidemic”.
I blamed the guy that “ruined our relationship”.
I was completely unaware of my feelings or how my beliefs created my results.
Most people live this way, in unawareness, forever. When you live this way, there’s so much more suffering. And you cannot create an intentional life, and you cannot design your life from a place of unawareness. You don’t even realize it’s possible for you.
If you’re new to this work, start with awareness and stay here for a while.
Get realllllly good at becoming aware of how you created your salary, how you created your marriage, how you created your health. Do you blame other people or things outside of you? Take full responsibility for all of it. Until you do this, you will never create permanent change.
To bring greater awareness to your life, ask yourself these questions:
- Thoughts—what am I thinking?
- Values—what values do I believe in?
- Feelings—what am I feeling?
- Actions—what actions am I taking or not taking?
- Results—what results am I creating or not creating?
- Circumstance—what circumstances exist outside of me that I cannot control? And am I judging them?
This step is so important, there is so much work to be done in step one, that if you just focus on this, you will drastically transform your life for this year.
This is the year I want you to become aware of your life.
Remember, it’s not until you become aware of what you’re thinking and how those beliefs create your results, that you can ever change them.
In my own life, about a year ago, I was drinking and going out. I noticed I wasn’t aligned with who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go in my life.
So I stopped drinking, and I became my future self now.
- For more on becoming your future self, check out this podcast: How To Write A Future Self Letter
This leads us right into step number 2…
Step 2: Decide Where You Want To Go And Who You Want To Be
Step 2 is deciding where you want to go and who you want to be.
This means you CHOOSE what kind of life you want.
For your health, for your relationships, for your career, for your money, for your hobbies, for your family. You decide on purpose.
(If you struggle with decision making, you absolutely must listen to this podcast episode: The Skill Of Decision Making.)
So if anything was possible, what would you do for work? Would you even work?
A majority of people would say they want to make millions of dollars and not work at all. This is so they can over pleasure themselves, so they can eat and drink more, and go sit on a beach.
This would actually be boring and unfulfilling. Certainly, you can spend and seek external pleasures to create a false sense of pleasure, but it will never be internal well-being. You’ll constantly need external pleasures to feel better.
So let’s skip that thinking that having millions of dollars and not working is a better life.
Decide on purpose how much money you want to make, how do you want to make it, how much or how little do you want to work, what kind of hobbies you want to have, what kind of relationships you want to have, what kind of person you want to be. This is how you live an intentional life.
For me, yes I want to make millions of dollars, but I don’t want to stop working. I love my work. Do I want to work a little less? Yes. Do I want to travel more? Yes. Do I want to have a family? Yes.
So thinking that for me, it’s exciting because I get to think of it from a place already having so much.
No matter your circumstances now, you can always find evidence for having enough.
I want you to think really big. Decide where you want to go with your life. All of it.
- For more on how to think bigger, listen to this podcast on Possibility Thinking.
Go there in your head and imagine having it. Set goals for the result you want, but make sure it’s in line with the type of life you want.
This is step 2. Deciding what you want.
In my life, I decide what I want into existence.
I think we just underestimate our own ability to do this. I have learned how to manage my mind to get what I want. And that’s what I want you to do.
At first, I started small. I just wanted to make $1k/month extra and get out of student loan debt.
Now, I dream bigger than most people ever would consider.
I’ll make 7 figures soon.
I’ll create dream relationships.
I don’t drink.
I’m literally designing my dream life out of thin air.
BUT. Let me remind you that in the beginning, it was slower. The wins were harder to come by. The discomfort was enormous. But I never thought once about quitting. It was worth it.
I’ve done this for my career, for my health, and for my relationships. I created all of this from my future. Not from my past.
This is what it means to be future focused.
You can live intentionally. You can do this little by little, moving forward.
Something I started doing recently is thinking about the values I want to have in my life. I’ve always had values, but I haven’t always decided what they are intentionally.
Don’t just think about outcomes and results. Think about the type of person you want to be.
I want to be someone who appreciates her life and doesn’t take it for granted. This is a choice and likely won’t happen on accident. It takes intentionality because it’s easy to complain about things, but if I live a life of appreciation, I can love what I have now, and still want more.
So decide on purpose what your intention is for all of it. Every single last part of your life.
Check out this podcast episode I did on Tracking Your Goal Progress.
Once you have done that, you’re ready for step 3.
Step 3: Create The Path To Get There
Once you’ve decided on the results you want to create and the person you want to be, you create the path to get there.
You don’t need to know all the steps.
You don’t need to know the HOW.
You need to know the first step. Then evaluate that step and do the next step after that.
I talked about this in the Direction Vs. Intention podcast episode.
Everything you think, say, feel, and do must be aligned with the life you want.
I recently did this in so many areas of my life.
I stopped drinking (you can read my story about not drinking alcohol here). It wasn’t aligned with the life that I wanted. It would be easy to go about having a few cocktails here and there on the weekends with friends. It wasn’t creating a problem, but it wasn’t aligned with the future that I wanted.
Those really small habits and processes you are doing right now, are what’s getting you the results that you have and they are what’s keeping you from getting the results that you want.
I constrain the number of hours I work because I value spending time with family and friends.
I joined a gym, and I work out because I value my health.
I practice feeling love and appreciation because I want to be someone who lives a life of love and appreciation.
So, when you’re thinking about Step 1 (where you’re at now) and Step 2 (where you want to go), Step 3 is all the steps in between 1 and 2. And I assure you as scary as it may seem, you don’t need the how right now. You need the next step forward. You need to stay in motion. When you fail, you’re learning. You try again. It’s a zig zag path to where you want to go, not a straight line.
Step 4 is similar to step 3, but there are a few more details, so I wanted to break it down into 2 separate steps. Step 3 is like the roadmap for your journey and step 4 is to-do list if you will.
Step 4: Take Enough Action To Get Results
Step 4 is to take enough action that you get the results you want.
Take MASSIVE action.
Not just a little action. A freaking lot of action.
You also must do Massive Thinking. You have to change how you’re thinking. When something doesn’t work, you have to examine what you did wrong and how to do it differently in the future.
This means that you are going to process a lot of negative emotion because there is going to be discomfort and failures, and there’s going to be rejection. It’s not easy.
In fact, it’s incredibly difficult.
Let’s say you’re in a job that’s fine, but you don’t feel it’s your dream job. You want to make more money and work less.
You might be aware of this, and say to yourself, I went to college and did everything everyone said to do, yet here I am.
You created and chose the job you have. You created the income you have. You created the work hours. But good news, you can change it!
You can decide you want to go in a direction where you have a job you’re passionate about, you make double you make now and you only work 30 hours a week instead of 60.
Step 3, when you’re creating that path to get there, your brain will freak out and that it’s impossible, but if you ignore that part of your brain and create that path anyway, you can do this step, where you take massive action to make it happen.
The people that succeed are the ones that believe they can create exactly what they want, regardless of circumstance and not because anyone tells them how.
You have to go through the ups and downs. If you take enough action to get the results you want, there’s no rush and you will get the result.
If you want to get the result you want—the impossible goal—you must change who you are (your identity).
Side note: Here are some amazing resources to go along with goal setting.
- Impossible Goals (podcast)
- The Magic Of Setting Impossible Goals (blog post)
- Clarifying Questions For Goal Success (podcast)
Whatever you repeat, you reinforce.
I like to think of it as someone else’s mind jumping into your body. What would they believe to create the result you want? This is what you need to believe. This creates a level of separation to allow you to see it.
Your current results are a direct effect of who you believe you are.
If you want to change your life, you have to change who you believe you are. You have to change your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
I’m talking about action in this step, but it’s so much more than that. To live an intentional life, means you have to give up the identity of the person that got the results that you currently have.
I have shed my identity as a lawyer, as a financial planner, as a blogger. And I’m always ready to shed my current identity for the next one because I want to live a life at the highest level. This is intentional living.
So let’s talk about the result of all this…
The Result Of Living An Intentional Life
The result of living life this way is that you will have the opportunity to up-level your life.
At each up-level, you create more opportunities.
You’ll create your life exactly how you want.
This is why I believe everyone needs a life coach. You can up-level your life yourself. But what better way to do it faster than to hire a coach? I hire coaches and I always will. This is what I help my clients do in Grow You. These women are changing their lives with this work. And you can, too. (To join me, check out Grow You here.)
I have so many options. I can work from wherever I want, whenever I want. This wasn’t given to me. I earned it. I had to go through the fails and discomfort to get here. It was not easy. But it was 100% worth it.
If you are at the very beginning of your journey, don’t quit.
There’s no rush. You can get the results you want.
A Final Note!
I don’t want to inspire you to live a life like mine.
I want to inspire you to decide on purpose what kind of life you want to live and then pursue it with grit, commitment, and love.
It’ll be hard, messy, and oh so worth every step of the way.
You can absolutely do it.
Up Next, watch the YouTube video…