Living with intent and living a (more) intentional life, are different ways of describing a life with a clear vision, backed up by strong values and focused actions.
In this article, you will read about why living an intentional life is the missing piece to your success, you will learn a proven method to find your purpose, as well as how to transform that purpose into goals and actionable tasks. Last, but not least, you will learn how to sustain the new intentional life that you are about to begin.
NOTE: All methods and techniques are proven tools that have lead businesses and business people, over many years, to success. Diana has adapted them to be used in our personal lives and she integrated them into her coaching program.
What does it mean to live an intentional life?
Let me ask you something, do you ever feel that your circumstances (job, family life, relationships, money, etc.) are dictating what you can or cannot do? Do you feel like you are leaving little bits and pieces of you behind with every compromise you make? Do you feel that you are working hard on so many levels but you are still not satisfied with the outcome? Well, if you answered yes to any of the questions, please know you are not alone and you can change all that quite quickly.
People who live an intentional life, are those who have made a conscious decision to create a lifestyle around what they consider important, simplifying the circumstances considerably, leading them a more clear path to achieve what they want.
Let’s have a look at a real case example from one of my clients. I will use this example throughout this article to exemplify how the process looks like in more concrete terms. If you are not sure what you should focus your efforts on, take the free Clarity Booster test and find out.
Imagine that you have discovered that you want to contribute more to charity.
Your circumstances are saying that you have a job, but your income does not allow you to donate money and that your schedule doesn’t allow you to volunteer either.
Even if you manage to overlook these excuses, you might not know where to start or what to do.
The whole process of disrupting and changing your life can be overwhelming.
With an intentional life mindset, you will feel reassured because your decision to move forward came from a structured thought process and it will fuel your motivation and support your perseverance in times of doubt. If that is truly what you desire (or decided to do), everything else will be put through that perspective.
For example, you have a job but your income does not allow you to donate money. That might be true, and you have no money to spare, but will think about not having the money get you closer or further away from your purpose of contributing to charity? Further, that’s right. Instead, try thinking if you can donate some of your things or make something you can donate. Maybe even collect donations from others.
Asking yourself the question “Does this help me get closer to where I want to go?” will always help you stay focused on your goal and not spend time, energy, money on something else on distractions. Give it a try!
Why should you live a (more) intentional life?
To get Clarity
Building a vision for your life with purpose and values creates intent and will put your circumstances in the perspective of that purpose, making all actions, decisions, and considerations very clear.
To get in Control
Having the feeling that your life is dictated by circumstances is negative and destructive. This happens when we lack a clear path and we go with the flow. Creating an intentional life gives you control over the circumstances, making it easier to make decisions and take action.
To free up Head-space
Decision fatigue is a serious problem for everyone in this rapid-paced world. It refers to the decrease in your ability to make quality decisions because you are forced to make a high quantity of decisions. When you live an intentional life, all the doubt and the need to make the right decision disappear just by asking if this or that is getting you closer to where you want to go. Gaining head-space will allow you to be more present and focused on your life.
To work with Precision
Precision and not perfection! A vision will lead you to goals, your goals will lead you to actionable tasks, and your responsibility is to execute those tasks with precision, meaning a focused effort that will move you forward towards achieving your goals. Precision work is done with the goal in mind so it is not prolonged unnecessarily or overworked, unlike perfectionism.
To achieve Fulfillment
Isn’t that the goal? To feel satisfied and happy, no matter what your life’s vision, goals or circumstances? Being intentional in your actions and decision, and making sure you stick to your vision, will create results that will spark that feeling of fulfillment.
What to do to begin living an intentional life?
So far we established that an intentional life will get you to that desired destination in a structured, focused and precise manner. We also agreed that, apart from building our dreams, intentionality comes with many other benefits for your life. So where should you begin?
Here’s the secret formula that you will have no problem remembering:
WHY + HOW = WHAT
Do you want to know WHAT to do? Find out WHY do you want it and HOW to use what you got first. Let’s look at them one by one.
WHY do I want what I want?
Do you have an idea? A desire? An interesting thought you are curious about? Do you have too many ideas and it is difficult to decide which one to pursue? Start by thinking about how your ideal life looks like. Take a few minutes with the eyes closed and think about what you are doing in your ideal life, what you are eating, wearing, who are you talking to, where do you live, etc. The more concrete you can be in your vision, the better. If you are still unsure of what is important to you, try the free Clarity Booster and shine some light on your priorities. Let’s look at the example.
Imagine that you have a desire to contribute more to charity. In your ideal future life, you might work for a charity organization where you help coordinate aid efforts in the areas of the world that need it. You feel good about yourself, you like your colleagues, and you enjoy your work. It also gives you the opportunity to travel and help out in a more direct manner and that is very rewarding. You have a family and you like going on bike trips on weekends, also, you love animals but your partner has allergies so you can’t have a pet, etc.
Make your imagined future life as detailed as possible, so don’t rush. Now choose one thing from your vision that is the most important for you to achieve. That one thing that you absolutely must-have. Got it?
I want to work in a place where I can contribute to the wellbeing of the world and have time to do volunteer work.
Ask yourself WHY is this important to you?
I need to find a deeper meaning in my job so I can keep motivated. Also, I really like helping others and contributing positively to the world.
Ask yourself WHY do you think that is?
I am very aware of my good circumstances and I never needed much, so I would like to help others now that I can.
Ask yourself WHY working for a charity and not simply making a monthly donation?
I am interested in learning how charities work and contribute with my knowledge and well as with my time and money.
Ask yourself the WHY question, or better yet, ask someone to ask you the WHY question until you are satisfied with your answer or until you are seeing a pattern. In the example above, the initial idea was to do volunteer work, but further inquiry showed that working for a charity was what the person wanted. It is important to figure this part out because the action plan and your results will depend on how true to yourself and specific you can be in this exercise.
Even the most self-assured of my clients get surprised by this exercise because they think they know what they want, but very rarely it is so. Don’t get discouraged now, our brains are very good at lying to us and telling us what would make us happy when, in reality, that is not true.
I recommend you ask at least 5 WHYs and repeat the exercise with all the ideas you might have. Write your answers down so you can easily extract the patterns. The things your answers have in common are a clue for what is actually important to you in life. Pay attention.
NOTE: This exercise can be a long process. People spend days, weeks and even months digging deep into their desires, hopes, and dreams before they see the pattern. Do not get discouraged, keep searching. Once you have it, you have found your LIFE´S PURPOSE, and that´s worth searching after.
HOW to get what I want with what I got?
Did you find it? That´s fantastic, give yourself a hand, finding your purpose is a clear indicator that you are on the right path. So maybe you realized you want to teach, help others, do charity work, be a business person, etc. Now what?
First, understand that your life´s purpose is a life long path, not a goal in itself.
Doing charity work is not something you check off the list if it is your life’s purpose, it is something to drive your life by.
Second, write down all those things you can do that will help you achieve your purpose. This list will be the base of your goal setting and it does not have to be 100% possible in the present, remember, you have your whole life for this. So let’s take the example with charity work.
What can you do to contribute to charity initiatives? Your list might include: making monthly donations, organizing charity events, writing books and donate the proceedings, work for a charity, start a charity, etc.
Third, look at your potential goal list and ask yourself what can you start with today? If you cannot decide on one goal, get a free Boost of Clarity here. Keep the list for future goals and keep adding new ideas you might think about in the future. Whenever you feel stuck, have a look at the list and move forward by setting a new goal. You will feel reassured that, no matter what your goal is, it will surely contribute to your life’s purpose.
WHAT to do to get what I want.
You’ve got a life purpose and you got your goals, celebrate it! You will now be, even at a subconscious level, driven and intentional in your actions. Well done!
If you want to be proactive and go after your goals, take the first goal and imagine you are boarding a train and your destination is reaching your goal. Now, what are the stations you need to stop to get there? What are those 3 to 5 things that need to happen for you to reach your goal?
In our example, your purpose is charity work and you decided to set the goal of organizing a charity event. This would be something like:
Station 1: Learn about donations through events
Station 2: Learn about even planning
Station 3: Create an event concept and layout the plan
Station 4: Find organizations and people who want to get involved
Station 5: Secure funding.
Without these steps, your goal will be difficult (if not impossible) to reach. This will also provide a structured platform for your work.
Now is where this process gets very real. For reaching each station make a travel plan. Make a list of all the actions you need to do before you can cross that station off your list. These actions need to be as specific as possible, they need a deadline and a time frame and you need to be aware of who are they dependent on. Let’s take the first station:
Learn about donations through events.
Action 1: Find out if there is a national and local organization responsible for this kind of event. Time frame 1 day, and should be done before next week. You are responsible for it.
Action 2: Research what the rules are for this type of donation. Time frame 1 day, and should be done before next week. You are responsible for it.
Action 3: Obtain the permits necessary for organizing such an event. Time frame 2 months, and should be done before summer. Application responsibility: you, Authorisations responsibility: the specific organization. (add here contact name, phone number, email, and other relevant information so you will not have to always look for it)
And so on, until you make sure all tasks are written down. Now take each one of them and put them into your calendar according to their deadline and time frame. All you have to do now is get to work. All the head-space that it will normally be filled with doubt if you are on the right path or doing the right thing, it is completely freed and available for you to focus on actually doing things.
NOTE: Remember to be realistic with your time planning and do not create unnecessary pressures for yourself. Remind yourself that this is your life long purpose and that Rome was not built in a day. Set your own pace and stay away from stress.
You will now live intentionally because you know WHY you do what you do and you will not spend precious time and energy on anything else.
How to sustain the new intentional life?
You have done many lists in this exercise, so here is the last one. You know now what you gain from living an intentional life, but also what you gain from your purpose, goals, tasks, etc. But you are human and you will get tired, and things will get hard sometimes, and you will feel like quitting at least once a week. We all do.
When this happens, just remember that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just a product of your human brain activity and are infinite in number. This means you can make up your own thoughts: when you hear your head telling your purpose is too big for you, that you will fail, that you don’t know this or that, you can just make up new thoughts like these: my purpose is big, but I have a lifetime to achieve it, I will fail countless times, but I will continue, I do not know the first thing about it but I will learn, and so on.
Another thing you can do to help yourself stay motivated when things get hard, is making a list with the answers to the question: What will I lose or miss out on if I do not pursue this goal/if I quit? Really think about all the concrete things that will not come to happen and you will not get if you quit. Think about all the beneficiaries of your success, not only about yourself, try to look at the big picture. Make this list a reminder of what is important to you and why you are doing this. It will be easier to stay on the right path when things are concrete and tangible, than when they are just a faraway idea.
Are you ready to begin your intentional life?
If you made it to this point in the article it is fair to say that you are somehow committed, or at least very interested in starting your intentional life. Here is a summary of the tools explained in this article so you can have an overview and start using them today.
Use the proven business methods from the Move Forward program to build an intentional, successful and fulfilled life. Start by booking a free personal coaching session.