Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before other people’s choices make us. – Richie Norton
Allow us to let you in on a little secret right from the start — no matter how close we think we are to success, living our lives with conscious intentions can quadruple our chances in no time.
If this sounds unrealistic, it may be because you don’t fully understand what it means to live life with intentions. Living life with intention, or intentional living, in its simplest form, is the art of cultivating a conscious approach to all our activities in life, making sure that our values and beliefs power all our actions.
These values and beliefs are then channeled into guiding us towards specific sets of goals and achievements, which become our purpose in life.
It is the presence of all of these and the constant ability to live our lives with their positive intentions in mind that make up what is known as intentional living.
As mentioned earlier, intentional living is one of the undisputable recipes for success in life. But how exactly is this so? We discuss this further in the sections below.
Case Study on Successful People
There is a common trait among all successful people that is hard to ignore. If, for instance, we all choose to close our eyes right now and think of all the successful people we know, we should soon realize that there is something all of them have – and that is purpose.
They not only have a purpose, but they also have a set of values and beliefs guiding them towards their purpose.
Let’s take the example of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. During the Covid Pandemic, when the whole world was in turmoil, these people continued to expand their kingdom. While it looked very unethical to the outside world, they were just living their purpose without getting distracted by anything.
What’s more, they are always reminded of these values every day, and they ensure to never deviate from it no matter what’s happening in their lives or around the world.
This is the value of intentional living.
Importance of Intentional Living
It is obvious from the general case study above that living with intention offers plenty of advantages. Below are some major facets of these advantages that are worth noting.
○ Carves Out a Clear Path Towards Success
First and foremost, living intentionally gives us a higher probability of success. This is down to a deep underlying aspect of human psychology.
The more we remember a thing and the more we hold it dear in our minds, the higher the probability we have of achieving success in this endeavor.
So, in short, living with intention and clear purpose-built on strong beliefs and unwavering intentions towards achieving this purpose is without a doubt the best strategy towards experiencing unprecedented success in life.
○ We Become Much Better at Dealing with Adversity
Furthermore, intentional living gives us most of what we need to face adversities in life and triumph. Adversities are there to test us to the brink, to see if we truly have what it takes to survive in this dogged world.
It tests our resolve and purpose most of all.
Living with intention and a clear purpose automatically ensures that we’re able to survive these gruesome tests and come out with flying colors.
In short, if our purpose is strong and our intentions are clear, adversities are no match for us in any way.
○ Clarity of Purpose Brings about Happiness
Lastly, intentional living brings about extreme clarity of purpose. If we live our lives every day conscious of our purpose and beliefs, these become stronger. They, in turn, reinforce our intentions so that everything becomes clearer and more profound with each passing day.
All of these have a way of making our lives a lot easier, a lot more conducive to success, and most importantly, a lot happier.
Happiness is the ultimate goal in life for many of us, and dare we say there are only a few ways better towards achieving happiness than intentional living.
10 Means for Living Life with Intention
1. Define Your Value & Beliefs
The very first step to intentional living is setting and defining our values and belief system. Why is this so? Well, the very meaning of living with the intention is being able to live life with a purpose based on our values.
It is clear that to do this, we must first have clearly defined beliefs and values. Otherwise, there really is nothing to live for.
To put it another way, to have something to live for, we must have something to live by.
○ Defining Values
Luckily, most of us develop strong values and beliefs from childhood. Sometimes we have them thrust on us by family or by society.
There is nothing wrong with this, but as we grow up, it falls on us to examine these values and beliefs, define and redefine them until we come up with something strong enough to live our lives by.
This is the very first step of living life with intention.
2. Setting “Daily Intentions”
Living life with intention is like living life with a clear map. This map provides us with major details about where we are and where we are going
In this case, setting daily intentions is like knowing where we are to be and where we are to go each day of our lives.
It is possible to have a general purpose and vision in life. But without having clearly defined intentions for each day, we find ourselves losing track of time until our final visions become so far away it is almost impossible to see.
Daily Intentions Keep Us on Track
The superiority of intentions over goals is that goals are more long-term and sometimes loosely defined. In contrast, intentions are always remarkably clear and can be suited to our daily lives.
Goals may fail when we don’t keep track of them. Intentions, on the other hand, are by definition always close to our minds. When we make them a daily occurrence, we ensure never to let them stray too far away and become foggy like goals tend to do.
3. Making Time for What Matters Most
You can’t be everything to everyone. At some point, you need to make a choice of what truly matters to you and why. – David Amerland
The next step is to make time for the things that matter the most in our life. For many of us, this is easy as we already have our priorities set to the highest possible extent.
We already know the things that matter and the things that don’t. In this case, all we have to do is cultivate the discipline needed to stay away from the least important things and focus on the most important things.
Of course, there are also those who haven’t yet identified their priorities. Now is the time to do that. The things that matter the most add value to our lives instead of taking value away.
Once we identify this, we become better at focusing all our minds on the important ones and living with the intention of maximizing value.
4. Establishing Routine: Power of Habits
There are only very few tools of living intentionally that are as impressive and effective as establishing a routine. Routines are great as they fall in line perfectly with the definition of intentional living.
Living intentionally is something we have to keep in mind every day and make a part of us. This, in turn, is exactly what a “routine” is.
○ The Human Brain
The human brain is wired to thrive on repetition. The implication of this is that the more we do a thing, the better we become at doing that thing. Also, the more we keep doing a thing, the harder it is to stop doing it.
All of these are why establishing a routine is one of the great ways of facilitating intentional living. Once we establish a routine of important activities conducive to our goals and in line with our beliefs, it becomes harder to stop us.
This is a great path to uninterrupted intentional living.
5. See Yourself as You Want Others To See You
Furthermore, living life with intentions is impossible without a decent amount of self-reflection and self-examination.
The goal of both exercises is to make necessary adjustments in our lives and remove things that serve as a hindrance towards growth and purpose. We all want other people to see us as incredible. Yet sometimes, we don’t see ourselves like this.
To live life with intention, we must begin to change our mindsets to reflect positivity about the world, our principles, and ourselves.
This creates a benevolent cycle where, once we start to see ourselves as great people, we begin to act like it until we achieve truly great things. At this point, nobody will be able to deny our greatness.
6. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to focus on our passing thoughts without judgment and anxiety. This is a meditation technique with the goal of tuning out the noise outside and focusing on the peace inside.
Focusing on our thoughts as they pass ensures that we don’t have time for things happening outside that can distract us. Furthermore, the fact that we don’t judge or have any fear about this thought means our minds can be at peace.
○ Tools For Mindfulness
Mindfulness has a lot of net benefits. Our mind is clear, we learn more about ourselves, eliminate distractions, and become better and wiser for it.
A particularly important tool for practicing mindfulness is engaging in mindful journaling, a form of mindfulness in which our thoughts are captured in a journal to facilitate catharsis, self-love, self-discipline, and growth.
7. Make Peace with the Past
This is without a doubt one of the most important steps in mastering the art of intentional living. Of the past, present and future, the past occupies a special role, seeing as it is the only one capable of directly influencing the other two moments of our lives.
○ Why We Must Make Peace with the Past
We must make peace with the past simply because it can cripple our present and future if we don’t let it go. We do not live intentionally if all our thoughts stay focused on past mistakes and shortcomings with no space for what is currently happening in our lives.
Of course, making peace with the past is hard. It isn’t easy to forgive ourselves and move on. But there is so much to be gained from doing this that we must always find a way to.
Learning to see every day as a new beginning and realizing that no mistake is final are both ways to move on and focus on the future. There is so much good we can eventually do, regardless of our shortcomings.
This a universal truth that applies to everyone.
No matter how many mistakes we have made, holding on to the past is always the biggest mistake of all.
8. Maintaining Strong Relationships
Next up in living with intention is maintaining strong relationships in all facets of our lives. Personally and professionally, it is almost impossible to practice intentional living if we constantly find ourselves in toxic environments.
To fix this, we must learn to surround ourselves with positive people with positive mindsets and make this relationship as strong as people.
The importance of this can not be overstated, but perhaps the biggest gain of all is that it clears up our minds for intentional living.
What’s more, building strong relationships gets us closer to people who can have a great influence on consolidating our values and beliefs in our own life, thereby giving our lives even more meaning and blessing us with the discipline we need to maintain a life of strong intentions.
9. Be Careful of the Media You Consume
To live intentionally is living our own life with purpose, with clearly defined values and beliefs.
Guess what has a great influence on our values and beliefs? Media.
Many of us don’t know this, but the media we consume has so much power over us that even the strongest individuals have been known to experience a shift in their beliefs after consuming certain media.
○ The Two Sides of Media Consumption
Does this mean that consuming media is bad? Of course not. As mentioned earlier, the media is capable of changing our outlook of the world. This can be for good, but sadly, this can also be for evil.
This is why the goal here is not to cut out the media entirely but to always be careful about the kind of media we expose our minds to.
It isn’t going to be the end of the world if we take a break from our phones and focus on our minds once in a while.
If we build a strong enough mind and are always on guard against negative influences, we become better at filtering the media we consume, letting only the positive messages in, while discarding the filth entirely.
10. Tailor your Inner Circle to fit Your Goals
Last but certainly not least, it is also imperative in our journey towards intentional living to tailor our inner circle to fit our goals. This is also similar to building a strong relationship with positive people, but we take it further by being highly selective about the kinds of people allowed to enter into the deepest parts of our minds.
○ The Importance of Circles in Friendship
In life, we should always seek to build strong relationships with people who can contribute positively to our success probability. Yet this does not always mean that all of these people should have access to our Inner circle.
We keep our inner circles close-knit because these are people whose opinions about us matter a lot. They can influence how we feel and act as a support system. We let them into our minds and allow them to see our biggest flaws.
We can also call upon them in times of need and fall apart with them, knowing they will not judge but instead pick us back up.
From all of this alone, it is clear why our inner circle should always be carefully configured. Only people we truly trust and know can help us achieve our goals should be allowed in.
This step tends to be overlooked by many, but in the end, it is usually incredibly important in helping us live our lives with the right intention and achieving our goals with minimal hassle.
Overview: Living Life with Intention
Living life with strong intention is a cheat code towards success in life. But it is also a cheat code that requires a significant amount of work and discipline to achieve.
Those who are ready to put in whatever it takes, though, are pretty much guaranteed a happy life with a clear purpose that is no match for adversity.
Some of the qualities required to reap these benefits are clearly defined values, clear routines, mindfulness, making peace with the past, selective media consumption, and surrounding ourselves with the right people.
Once we do this, we give ourselves more than a fighting chance against distractions. Ultimately we find ourselves having pretty much everything it takes to live a great life with great intentions and reap all of the rewards that inevitably comes from doing so.