Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind? Life is tumbling you along, blowing you in random directions. Maybe you’ve lost that spark for life and feel like you’re just going through the motions.
How do you take your life off autopilot and get a deep sense of enjoyment out of life? The answer is living intentionally.
By learning how to live intentionally, you can regain agency in your life. You can feel invigorated by going after your dreams and making every moment count. You only get one life, so why not make it one of your own design?
The secrets to living intentionally in this post are designed to put you back in the driver’s seat. They won’t solve all your problems or be a magic wand for a perfect life, but they can help you feel happier and more fulfilled.
Tips are based on personal experience and should not be considered medical advice. Full disclaimer.
Why Should You Try to Live Intentionally?
As adults, we can become accustomed to going through our days by checking off the boxes. We take care of our responsibilities and try to do all the things we feel we “should” do. Some of them are important. Others might not be.
We’re overly influenced by others and society.
At the end of the day, we collapse, drained. Then repeat.
While everyone has responsibilities they must attend to, the daily busy-ness of life can make us lose sight of the big picture. We keep adding more and more to-do’s without looking at the meaning behind them.
Weeks and months go by, and you feel stuck in your circumstances. Your passion for life has drained.
Too rarely do we stop to ask ourselves why we are spending our time on certain activities. What do we want out of life and how are we going to get it?
Answering those big questions isn’t easy, but it is the key to living a life with purpose—one that you are thrilled to be living. “I want that!” you say. Let’s review how to get there…
Secrets to Living Intentionally
1. Spend time on self-discovery
In order to live a life that feels true and meaningful to you, you have to do the work to figure out what that means. Try some journal prompts for self-discovery to learn more about yourself and your wishes.
Spend some time exploring your values, hopes, and dreams, even (and especially) if they feel long forgotten.
Ask yourself how your life feels now and how you want it to feel. You don’t have to figure everything out in one sitting, but start making it a regular habit to look inward.
2. Stop comparing yourself
Your life is not intended to look like anyone else’s. It is uniquely yours. Stop measuring your successes and failures against other people’s. That’s no way to live, and it will rob you of joy.
Most of the time, what you see of other people’s lives isn’t real anyway. Things may appear great on the surface and be a wreck behind closed doors.
Focus on your own goals and happiness, and don’t create standards for yourself based on messages you’re getting from other sources. When in doubt, look inward, and you’ll likely find the answer you’re looking for.
3. Live your personal mission statement
Living intentionally means acting according to your core values and putting your energy where it matters most. You won’t know how to start unless you define what this looks like for you.
Put in the effort to write a personal mission statement that can guide you going forward. Then practice questioning the why of things in your life. If something doesn’t align with your personal mission statement, then it may be time to change course.
You can measure future decisions against your personal mission statement to keep yourself on a path to living your most fulfilling life.
4. Set personal goals
Personal goals keep you moving in a direction that you want in life. You should have short-term and long-term goals that together will help you achieve your dreams.
Without goals, you’ll be constantly reacting to life, which can feel like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Your goals will keep you accountable to putting in the effort needed where it matters most.
Plus, it feels really good to accomplish your goals. This sense of achievement can fuel you to keep making progress towards your dreams.
5. Embrace change
As you start living more intentionally, you’ll likely need to make some changes in your life. Change is hard, so give yourself time and plenty of grace. It’s perfectly OK to start small.
While it may be tempting after some intense self-discovery, don’t feel like you can shift everything overnight. Even little course corrections will help get you on track.
For example, you probably shouldn’t quit your job tomorrow, but maybe you can start taking a class that will help prepare you for your dream job.
Start making decisions more in line with your goals and values, and you’ll see differences in your life with time. You’ll make mistakes along the way—we all do. Just keep going and doing the best you can.
Living intentionally may mean you choose to say goodbye to activities and relationships that are dragging you down. This can be difficult, but know that you deserve to decide what is best for you. Your needs and desires matter.
6. Spend your time wisely
When living intentionally, you’ll need to prioritize mercilessly. You must make time for the meaningful things in your life, and this means scheduling time for them, no matter how challenging.
Remember to assess the why behind how you are spending your time. When you minimize the activities that aren’t serving your best interests, you’ll have more time left for what lights a fire within you.
As you make these shifts, see how good it feels to devote more time to designing a life you love.
Living intentionally doesn’t mean you’ll be shirking your personal responsibilities. For example, I spend time doing things like changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and making toddler snacks because family is one of the things I value most.
While every individual task may not be enjoyable, when you can connect them to a bigger purpose, they will be more meaningful.
7. Seize the day
Carpe diem is one of the oldest philosophical mottos, and it still rings true today. Use it as your personal mantra to grab every opportunity to live life to the fullest.
You never know which day may be your last. You may have a job, chores, and other responsibilities, but try and incorporate moments into each day that are meaningful to you, no matter how small.
Connect with your children and the world around you. Try something new and fun.
Make it a habit to do things that give you a zest for life. Dream big and don’t sell yourself short.
8. Don’t fill your life with extra stuff
You don’t have to be a minimalist, but living intentionally means you should make purposeful decisions about the things you invite into your life. These things take up precious time, resources, space, and attention.
For example, you don’t want an overcrowded schedule that doesn’t allow you to practice the activities you value most. Saying yes to everything will not serve your best interests. I know I’m guilty of this because it can be hard to say no, but it gets easier with practice.
Similarly, physical clutter has negative effects, including keeping you from appreciating the items that bring you joy, robbing you of time due to cleaning and tidying, and stealing your sense of calm.
Excess will only weigh you down. Work towards making more conscious choices about what you allow into your life.
9. Practice continual self-assessment
Living intentionally is an ongoing process. Your values and goals may change as you go through life, in which case you’ll need to shift your actions accordingly.
It’s also smart to pause and review how you’re doing. How are you spending your time compared with your true priorities? Have you set goals, and are you making progress towards them?
Does life feel different since you started living more intentionally? Where is there still room for improvement? Don’t settle—keep working towards a life you love.
Life will never be perfect. That is not the goal. There will be messiness, obstacles, and setbacks, but the important part is to keep striving for what matters to you, because you are worth it.
Your Path to Living Intentionally
Living intentionally involves a shift in mindset where you put your personal goals back at the center of life. You get to design a life that is most meaningful to you by gradually changing the people, things, and activities you welcome into it.
By continually assessing how you’re spending your time and energy, you can choose to divert your efforts to areas that better match up with your personal why. Remember, your life is your one chance to go after your dreams.
Give yourself permission to do the things that fill your cup. You’ll likely be better able to show up for the people who need you when you’re taking the time to attend to yourself.
For moms, making the effort to spend time on your own needs and desires can be most challenging when there are little ones who demand so much attention. But showing your children how to have personal goals and passions is probably one of the greatest gifts you can give.
Living intentionally is not a destination—it is a lifestyle that will require ongoing self-assessment, reprioritizing, and sometimes difficult changes. Please know that creating a life that is fulfilling to you isn’t selfish.
You can balance your responsibilities while still making room for your own happiness. It won’t always be easy, but the effort to live purposefully will be worth it.
Everyone deserves the benefits of living intentionally. So, what are you waiting for?