An Intro to Intentional Living: Key Steps to Get Started
Intentional living – what is it?
Whether you are brand new to the concept and want to figure out whether it's right for you (it will be) or you've heard a bit about it, and you aren't sure where to start, this guide is for you. It will cover what it is and provide you with some steps to get started.
The most basic way to describe intentional living is this – it's planning rather than living life on auto-pilot. In doing so it becomes easier to make decisions, you are in tune with your intuition, you build self-esteem and self-trust, and you can achieve goals easier. Now that you know what intentional living is, how do you get started?
There are three easy steps to start living intentionally. These will be foundational to help you dip your toes in and get to grips with the lifestyle.
Step 1. Determining Your Values
You can't live intentionally unless you have a strong grip on your values and beliefs. Ultimately, no two people are precisely alike. So, you need to think about what defines you. The first step to living intentionally is to discover what you care about. How do you get to grips with your values?
Values include honesty, loyalty, adventure, bravery, determination, duty, etc. There are literally hundreds to choose from, and you don't need to find it on a list to class it as a core value if it matters to you. If you're struggling to come up with values on your own, you can check the internet for a long list of potential values and make a list of what pings with your inner voice.
Once you have a list of values, you can narrow it down to a top ten and put them in order of priority. Focus on the first five as you get started. Moving forward, you need to live in alignment with your values.
Step 2. Start Making Decisions to Align With Your Values
There is no point in determining your values unless you plan to act on them. Intentional living means starting to live in alignment with your beliefs and values. You might already be doing some of this, but it's okay if you aren't.
Start by setting goals because your intentions should support your goals. The goals you set should honor your core values. So, grab a pen and paper and set a goal right now. You already did some work around determining your values, so look at your number one value and come up with a value-driven goal. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. You need to be specific in the goal you set – I will do x by y. When you achieve x by y you can celebrate your success, which is a reward you can use to motivate yourself to keep going. It will ensure you clear it from your to-do list quickly. Your goals shouldn't hang over your head, haunting you because you never take concrete action. It's easy to get lost in the busyness of daily life, it's normal to slip into auto-pilot, but setting goals that align with your values is a good way to kickstart intentional living.
2. When you choose a specific goal, you need to ensure it is also an attainable goal. Making a goal attainable doesn't mean it's boring or easy, it means it is achievable. If your goal feels too big, you need to break it down into smaller steps. The more you hit your goals the easier it is to set big goals because you know you can break them down and work toward them consistently.
3. When you set a goal, don't be afraid to follow your heart. What goal would you love the outcome for the most? What goal could change your entire life? Or make your heart race? Don't be afraid to choose a goal that lights a fire underneath you, even if you think it could seem selfish to others. Choosing goals that fire you up is a great way to ensure you stick to living intentionally.
So, take a moment to brainstorm as many goals as you can and then narrow it down to one that aligns with your top value. Now you are going to start working toward that goal, which the next step will help you with.
Step 3. Be Consistent
Now that you have done the preparation, it's time to show up and start doing it. This is the hardest part for most people because you have to be consistent. You have to consistently make decisions that align with your values and further your goals.
You are essentially building a new habit, which is difficult when you have old habits to fall back on. When you inevitably slip up, don't beat yourself up over it. It isn't the end of the world – there's a brand new day starting tomorrow and you can do better then.
Intentional living will help you funnel your energy into the right thoughts, actions, and people. It furthers your ability to achieve your goals. And all it takes is a bit of organization to make sure your life aligns with your values and goals. You can start by making simple to-do lists ahead of time. It can be difficult to build and maintain healthy habits. Sadly, it's easy to fall prey to self-sabotage, but the harder you strive for intentional living, the quicker those slip-ups become a thing of the past. Think of those slip-ups as red flag days, there may be an underlying issue that is causing you to veer off course. That's something you can look into in your evening self-reflection.
The very first step to living intentionally is making a conscious decision to do it. Are you ready to make it? Start exploring the world of intentional living by finding blogs to connect with or social media users who live intentionally. It can be inspiring to see other people getting it done. It's a good opportunity to think about what intentional living could mean for your life.