What does it mean to live intentionally?

Intentional living encourages us to define our true priorities, tune into ourselves, find out what we really want from life, and then live each day in alignment with these goals and our purpose.

Oftentimes, it can be easy to live life on autopilot. Perhaps you’ve lost touch with what you really want or are a different person than when you started out; it’s also natural to stick to the way we’ve always done things or make choices based on what you think you “should” do. To turn that story around and start living more mindfully, you need a clear understanding of your purpose and passions.

Learning how to live intentionally takes awareness and a regular commitment to show up, look at what you see in your life, and be honest with yourself – then start to use these core values and goals to guide your choices. (These could include anything that affects your life positively: enriching your relationships, achieving financial wellness, finding a new career path, or your personal wellbeing.)

As you start to consider a more deliberate life, start with these small but essential steps:

  1. Awareness. Carve out some quiet time to think and reflect on what you truly want out of life. Imagine your ideal self. What does your day-to-day look like? What are your interests, intentions, and values? Consider writing these in a journal or making a vision board to help solidify them.
  2. Get to know yourself. Who are you, really? Remove the word ‘should’ from your mind as you ask yourself about your core values, hopes, strengths, and dreams. These tenets will be the foundation for the choices you make and actions you take as you shift to living in alignment with your true self.
  3. Feeling stuck? Make a pie chart of your life. A fun exercise is to create a pie chart with each section representing each major area of life (relationships, parenting, work, money, health, spirituality, creativity, and more). As you look at each segment, think about what you’re happy with in that area. How would you rate each area on a scale of 1-10? (Remember, start small – choose just one section where you want to feel more balanced.)
  4. Identify your environment and what needs to change. Are there negative people in your life who may be dragging you down, even unintentionally? Who can you seek out as a positive or inspiring support person to help you clear the mental clutter and start moving forward?
  5. Start to define your purpose. What is your ‘why’? What small shifts can you make today and this week that will move you closer to this purpose?
  6. Baby step! Goals are everything. Look at your pie chart or vision board and choose the one thing that feels both realistic (small) and exciting. Setting and completing even the tiniest of goals will give our brain a rush of excitement and motivation! S.M.A.R.T goal-setting is the science-tested method for planning and achieving your vision.
  7. Plan And Execute. How did that small goal feel? Look at your choices without judgment – what went well and what needs to be tweaked? Give yourself lots of grace and understanding as you create weekly or even monthly benchmarks on the path to intentional living. Start to get organized and set larger or more focused goals, along with a plan for how you will get there.
  8. Pause and pace. This is a marathon, not a sprint; true lifestyle change is meant to be a slow (and maybe even never-ending) process. Take the time to live within your small new choices and listen to your instincts.

These tips may be a helpful starting place for you:

You can also schedule a session with one of our counselors by calling our hotline at 866-660-9533 or filling out the form here.