Many of us go through our days awake, but following patterns and habits we’ve developed over the years. We are going through the motions, doing things at home, online, at work without much forethought. It’s like we are running on automatic.
Contrast this with the idea of an Intentional Life: everything you do is done with consciousness and awareness, fulfilling one of your core values (compassion, for example). Everything is done with a conscious intent.
It’s true that many things we do have some kind of intent — I’m washing the dishes because I don’t want a messy house or bugs in my kitchen; I’m driving to work because I need to make a living; I’m driving my kids to school because they need to learn. But after repeating these actions every day, the intent kind of fades into the background so that we are barely aware of them. We’ve figured out the intent long ago, and don’t need to think about them anymore.
What if that changed?
A simple practice of intentionality: before you do the next action online or at work, pause a moment, close your eyes, and mentally say your intention. Why are you doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? Is it to make someone happier? To improve the world? Out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others?
And then, as you do the action, be mindful of your intention.
This is a small step, but in those few moments, you will be living an Intentional Life.
Every morning is a new day full of decisions and opportunity. You get to pick your attitude and your decisions. You don’t have to let the circumstances of your past negatively determine the pattern of your life in the future. You do have a choice in the matter. You do not need to be stuck in the same pattern of living that you have been for years… realize that every morning is a new opportunity.
Add Practical Steps.
- Decide to live your life. Stop comparing yourself to others. You were not born to live their life. There is no sense wasting yours being jealous of theirs. Instead, you were born to live your life – determine today to be good at it. After all, you only get one shot.
- Define a purpose. Identify what you want your life to communicate and contribute. Find a passion to live for that is bigger than yourself. Write it down. It will bring new meaning to your life. It will wake you from the slow death of only living for yourself.
- Set goals. Goals move us and goals shape us. Set goals that are directly in line with your defined purpose. By their very nature, they will introduce intentionality into your life.
- Stay focused. We live in a world of constant connectivity and distraction that is begging for our attention nearly every moment of the day. Learn to turn off the distraction and live your life instead. Turn off the tv and don’t read gossip magazines. Remove nonessential physical belongings that are robbing you of time and energy that could be better spent living intentionally.
- Learn from others. Successful people are curious people. They possess the humility to learn from others. Identify people accomplishing your purpose and goals. Then, study them and learn from them.