What does it mean to live your life with intent? Award winning author, speaker and self-confessed “happy guy”, Richie Norton said: “Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us”.
Intentional living isn’t about working 24-7 or sacrificing downtime in the relentless pursuit of career goals. Rather it means being mindful of how we live our lives, consciously choosing where to focus our attention and learning how to eliminate distractions.
In today’s busy world where emails, social media streams, newsfeeds and text messages are constantly vying for our attention, living intentionally can seem like an impossible dream. If you feel like your life is dictated by never-ending to-do lists or you are being pulled from pillar to post by other people’s demands, perhaps it is time to seek out a different way of life.
We won’t pretend it’s going to be easy and it does require some work and conscious clutter clearing, but we can all take steps to create a life that has purpose, meaning and joy. Here are four practical tips and suggestions that will help you build a more intentional life every day.
1. Get clear about your priorities
It is impossible to live an intentional life without first identifying what your priorities and goals are. Many of us are juggling several different roles and responsibilities in our work and family life. Setting out our priorities is often more about eliminating non-essential tasks than it is about adding more commitments to an already overflowing schedule.
Think about your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly priorities and, once you have a list in place, narrow it down to a maximum of five. These are the things that are most important to you and, if you want to live a more intentional life, they should shape how you spend your time.
2. Put some structure into your day
If you are someone who prefers to let each day unfold with minimal planning, creating a daily routine might seem overly rigid. But having a clear framework for each day will actually free up more time for the things that you enjoy.
If you’re not already doing so, get into the habit of using a weekly planner. It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital calendar or a paper version, the important part is taking the time to write down all of your appointments, deadlines and tasks in one place.
Once you know what your essential and non-flexible commitments are, you can start scheduling time for other activities that are in line with your values and priorities. These can include things like working on your long-term business goals, time with family and friends, or self-care activities such as exercise and meditation.
3. Limit your media consumption
Technology is a wonderful thing that allows us to connect with other people, stay up to date with the news and have information at our fingertips. It can also be addictive and spending too much time in the digital world can have a negative effect on our relationships and take our attention away from what really matters.
If you frequently lose yourself down the rabbit hole of social media or feel the urge to check your emails every time you hear the notification ping, it could be time to limit your digital distractions. There are several things you can do to become more intentional in your media consumption:
• Install plugins that disable certain apps or newsfeeds
• Turn off your notifications and check email and messages only at specific times
• Turn your phone onto silent or leave it in another room when you are spending time with friends or family
• Commit to only having your phone switched on at certain times, for example 9am – 5pm
4. Cultivate a positive mindset and healthy habits
Your mind is a powerful tool and having a positive outlook can have a big impact on your mental wellbeing. It gives you the strength to power through tough times, adapt to changes and bounce back from personal or professional setbacks.
If you want to create a purpose-filled, intentional life you need to programme your mind for success by focusing your thoughts on what you want to achieve and attract. Adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and carving out time to de-stress, will help you build and maintain a positive outlook.
Creating a simple morning and evening routine, keeping a gratitude journal and decluttering the mind through meditation or mindfulness practices, will also nurture a healthy mindset and allow you to find clarity and focus.
Living an intentional life is not an easy task but it is definitely worth pursuing if you want to live a life that is in alignment with your core values and priorities. An intentional life won’t look the same for everyone but identifying what truly matters to you will help you shift your behaviours, thought patterns and habits away from autopilot and towards growth and personal fulfilment.