This is a keystone article on the 5 key principles for intentional living. It is the first article in a series of 6 articles.
Do you want to live more intentionally?
Are you in control of the life path you are on?
Is your career path intentional?
What you do in your spare time – is that intentional?
If you answered no to any of these questions, keep reading for some great tips for living a more intentional life.
You can have it all: A fulfilling life, a happy life, and a life that matters
I believe we only have this one life and that our lives are miracles! I believe what I do with my life matters. For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to create a life of my own. Because of that, my life has been other than conventional. I lived in a school bus in my early twenties. I chose not to have children of my own but fostered two teenage daughters. And most recently, I quite my job at the age of 42 to travel the world and practice writing.
Do you sometimes find yourself swept away by life? Are your days so full and fly by so fast you rarely have time to catch your breath and reflect?
This is inevitable at times. I know this from my own experience when I was working, raising teenagers, and running a business. What if you could juggle all the important areas of your life while living a more fulfilling life, creating more happiness, and slowing time down? All at the same time.
Living an extraordinary life
I believe living an extraordinary life boils down to living an intentional life. Living your best life also begins with understanding you can choose to live your life under your own terms, verses living your life dictated by what is considered normal. It is also important to give up comparing yourself to others. Who cares what house the Jones’s live in or what car they drive. What matters is what is most important to you.
Resources on Intentional Living
I’ve found many resources recently on the topic of intentional living. For example, Joshua Becker, with becomingminimalist.com wrote The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life. In his article, Joshua advises us: “Don’t just drift through life. Live intentionally and on purpose.” Joshua also emphasizes giving time to our passions.
Blogger, writer, and now podcaster, Chris Guillabeau, says “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”
Author, Gary Keller, of the bestselling book The One Thing, wrote “Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.”
The foundations for an intentional life
In my experience designing my own life, I found 5 foundational must have principles and practices for living an intentional and purposeful life:
- Attitude of intentionality
- Being guided by a personal strategic plan
- Dedication to planning and setting SMART goals
- Strong adherence to time management strategies
- Creating a system of social support and accountability
I’ve created a series of articles touching on each of these foundations for intentional living. Below are summaries and links for each article.
Attitude of intentionality
An attitude of intentionality is the first foundation for intentional living.
I believe we get to create our own lives. We get to live according to our own values and rules. We get to call the shots. It is with this attitude of intentionality that will get us where we want to be. To live our own lives by our own rules.
One key to living an intentional life is to understand yourself, what you value in life, and what is most important to you.
Once you know what is most important to you, you must fight for those things (be intentional). For example, making sure you have the time to spend on those important things. This takes assertiveness. It also takes having an attitude that you will find a way no matter what to align your actions toward what is most important to you. In a nutshell, it takes an attitude of intentionality.
Being guided by a personal strategic plan
Having a personal strategic plan that is based on what matters most to you and guides your actions is the second foundation for intentional living.
“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra
A personal strategic plan is a clear plan for achieving your goals. The exercise of creating your own personal strategic plan can help you identify what's most important to you and can define what success means to you.
Like organizations, a personal strategic plan can be your compass. It can help you be intentional and proactive in reaching your goals. Not only that, creating your own plan will help you identify the goals that are most in line with what you truly want to become and what you want your life to become. A personal strategic plan can be a planning tool for you to achieve your version of an extraordinary life. It can help you achieve your own definition of success.
Dedication to planning and setting SMART goals
The third foundation for intentional living is to have a commitment to planning and setting SMART goals.
As you focus on designing an intentional life and work toward implementing your ideal life, it is important to incorporate planning and setting SMART goals. Achieving your ideal life may seem daunting right now, but if you break it down into smaller goals and accomplishments, and create a realistic plan, it won’t feel so out of reach.
SMART goal elements
S – Specific (detailed and clear, desired accomplishment)
M – Measureable (clear outcome desired, how I will know when I achieved the goal)
A – Achievable (realistic, challenging but manageable)
R – Realistic (similar to achievable, this is a goal I can realistically achieve)
T – Time bound (due date & milestones, shoot for an ambitious timeline that motivates)
A non-SMART goal example: I want to save more money. There is nothing specific or measurable about this goal, and it is not clear how it will be achieved or when it will be achieved.
A SMART goal example: To save an additional $400 dollars each month to help meet my savings goal of $36,000.
Strong adherence to time management strategies
Being intentional about how you spend your time and adhering to time management strategies is the fourth foundation for intentional living.
Intentionality plays a role in everything we do, including how we manage our time.
We live in a society where most people have less and less freedom over their personal time. We have given up control of our time to the norms of society. Busyness is the new status symbol. “Busy” is often our response to “How are you?” Even if we find ourselves with some extra personal time, we often cram it with catching up with chores and our never ending to-do-list. Does this ring true for you?
I remember a time when this was me. I juggled working full-time work, helping my husband with his business, managing a household, making time for fitness, pursuing passion projects, and spending time with family.
- Organize your life into containers of time
- Focus on one thing at a time
- Focus on the right things
- Do your Most Important Tasks first
- Letting go of the less important stuff
- Identify your biggest time wasters
- Your last task of the day is to plan for tomorrow
Creating a system of social support and accountability
The fifth and last foundation for intentional living, but no less important, is creating a system of social support and accountability.
It’s easy to justify getting other stuff done before tackling the harder stuff that will move you toward your intentional lifestyle goals. In the beginning, you may be inspired to take steady action toward your planned goals. However, as we all know, life tends to get in the way. The day to day stuff is always there to be done. Our attention is easily pulled to other people or things demanding our attention.
To create momentum for consistent daily action requires the support of our social support system. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that we are the average of the five people we hang out with. If you want to create a specific lifestyle for yourself, it helps to hang out with others who are either on the same path as you or who already have attained that lifestyle for themselves. In general, it is also important to spend time with people who are positive and uplifting, and who support you in achieving what you want in life.
In addition to a strong social support system, selecting one or more people to form an accountability system can go a long way toward motivating us to take action toward achieving our goals.
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