Intentional Living 101: A step-by-step guide to living a life with IntentionSep 12, 2022
The most present and joyful people live with intention
Have you heard the term Intentional Living before, but do not know what it really means to live intentionally? Is intentional living a lifestyle? How do you live more intentionally? What the heck does intentional living even mean?
Over the past few years, Intentional living has definitely been showing up more and more as people begin to focus on their overall emotional wellness and focusing on what really matters in their personal lives.
Can you relate?
I know I can.
Before I began living with more intention I was living… but kind of floundering…not making progress towards my goals, heck not even making goals, getting caught up in my head and having a hard time making decisions.
Until I finally asked myself:
What would life look like if I were able to clear the mental clutter, organize priorities in life and make decisions with confidence? What would life look like? What would you be doing?
The thing is, over the years we have been so conditioned to the ‘hustle' lifestyle that we literally have to re-teach ourselves to slow down and ask ourselves what our priorities REALLY are, and how we want to be living life right now.
Hand raised if you watched your parents work for hours and hours on end to create a life society told them to desire?
Coming from a family home where my Father was a work-a-holic, I learned at a young age to value myself based on my work ethic, how far I could go in my career and how great of an employee I could be. I placed so much of my self worth on being “super” in every area of my life that I completely lost myself.
It was not until I experienced a full on burn-out that I was forced to take a step back and re-evaluate what I really wanted in my life and why my self worth was so connected to being ‘super’ in all areas of my life.
Today, we are going to deep dive into intentional living with a comprehensive intentional living guide so you can go from hearing the term intentional living to actually living an intentional lifestyle.
So let’s jump in!
Why is it Important to Live Intentionally?
Mental health and wellness is an epidemic in our world. Period.
Depression and anxiety plagues adults, teenagers and even children. Studies show that 1 in 3 adolescents will experience an anxiety disorder, and 63% of college students feel overwhelming anxiety and childhood mental health is on the rise.
The world is becoming aware of the fact that people, companies and communities must start investing in EMOTIONAL WELLNESS to better the overall health and wellness of themselves, their families, their communities and the world.
Unfortunately, so many people have not been taught how to live an intentional life but rather have been taught this ‘hustle’ / ‘be the best’ mentality which has contributed to the emotional un- balance and mental health concerns in our world.
And although there are many things we are unable to control in our world, we are responsible for our lives and as a society and as individuals, we need to begin to take the steps to care for our mental and emotional wellness.
One step towards better mental health is by starting to intentionally live a more intentional life.
But what does that even mean?
If you are interested in learning how to set intentions and start living a more intentional life then I encourage you to sign up for my free Intention Setting workbook where I walk you through 5 steps to setting intentions for your life. Check out the workbook here!
What does it mean to live intentionally?
So what exactly is intentional living?
Jennifer, from SimplyFiercely.com explained it perfectly in one sentence.
INTENTIONAL LIVING IS ABOUT EXAMINING YOUR ‘WHY’
So often we are going through life on auto-pilot that we do not stop to ask ourselves WHY we are doing this.
WHY am I in the career I am in?
WHY am I in the relationship I am in?
WHY do I live where I live?
WHY do I surround myself with the people I surround myself with?
Asking yourself some of these questions allows you to reflect on the daily decisions you are making and determining if you are happy with the answers.
For so long, I asked myself these ‘why’ questions and for so long, I was very unhappy with some of the answers. Even though on paper my life looked pretty good on the outside…. On the inside I could not find the answers I wanted to some of these big ‘why’ questions.
In particular, at the time I began asking my ‘why’s’ , I lived in a city…. I am not a city person…. I was miserable and my soul was craving nature and the countryside. I asked myself why I was living there… and after a lot of shadow work, and uncovering some self limiting beliefs - I determined that my why did not add up to the life I wanted to live. So I made the HUGE decision of leaving my high paying (unfulfilling) government job and moved to the place I call home now.
I’m not going to lie to you, it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I was scared shitless… but everything in my soul was telling me it was right. That I needed to do this in order to be happy with my WHY.
So let me ask you…. Are you happy with your WHY’s??
If you are not, that is okay. It means you are embarking on a wonderful journey of awareness and intentionality. And if you are here reading this my friend, then you are in the right place.
Welcome, to your awakening.
WHAT IS INTENTIONAL LIVING?
↠ Intentional living means making conscious choices and taking aligned action that help you to get closer to where you want to be in life and how you want to show up each day.
↠ Living an intentional life is becoming intentional about what you want your life to look like, creating a plan to move towards that life and then making day to day decisions based on the larger picture of what you want out of life.
↠ Intentional Living is living life based on YOUR North Star. Which is attune to a compass which is made up of your personal core values and your personal life vision. Need help defining your Core values or personal life vision check out the workbook here!
↠ Living a life of intention means that you are bringing awareness to your ‘why’s’ and making the appropriate course corrections or pivots to align with where you want your life to go.
↠ Living a life of intention brings a deep sense of meaning, purpose and profound satisfaction into your life because you are living a life aligned with what is important to you.
Before we dive in further - if you already know you want to live more intentionally discover how to set intentions with this 5 step framework. Get Your Free Setting Intentions Worksheet here.
What is an Intentional Lifestyle?
Now that you understand the concept of living a life with intention and what intentional living is…. I wanted to touch on what is an intentional lifestyle.
Because, let’s be honest, making changes is freaking hard. As humans we are hardwired for routines and consistency. So making any big life changes or going against the grain of our subconscious beliefs, is not easy. And it is not going to change overnight.
However, how I look at intentional living is like a lifestyle. I look at it as constantly evolving, learning and growing so that I can make the small daily steps towards the life I desire.
Living an intentional lifestyle is not about being perfect.
It is not about not making mistakes.
Living an intentional lifestyle is about bringing AWARENESS into your everyday choices, actions, reactions and decisions and taking responsibility for those choices to help align you with your best life - whatever that looks like!
In a nutshell,
↠ Intentional living is a lifestyle and mindset which brings more awareness into your daily life. It helps you to shut off ‘auto-pilot mode’ and really become tuned into life and all its magnificence and messiness moment to moment.
↠ Living a life of intention is a lifestyle where you commit to living a more present life aligned with your core values.
↠An Intentional lifestyle is a holistic + wholehearted approach to ‘BE’ing each day. It helps connect you to your body, mind, emotions, personal energy and spirit - allowing you to live a healthier and happier life.
↠ Living life with Intention means you become consciously aware of how you are reacting to situations around you and focusing on what is in your circle of control versus what is outside of it.
↠ Living intentionally allows you to build emotional resilience, emotional wellness and emotional strength - allowing you to better manage strong emotions and feelings as they arise.
Benefits of Living a More Intentional Lifestyle
As the pandemic shook our worlds up for both good and bad, many people have recognized that life is too short to be living on autopilot and being held back by the beliefs that are no longer serving them and the life they desire.
More and more research is coming out about the benefits of intentional living and living life based on our core values.
PsychCentral speaks to multiple studies done which are showing that living a life of intention and making decisions based on your values has been linked to lower daily distress, greater daily wellbeing, better ability to manage stress and managing depression.
In addition to the scientific research that is in its early stages, Personally, I have found soo many benefits to living a more intentional life aligned with my core values. Some of these are as follows:
1. You are more present
Embracing an intentional way of living naturally means you become more present. Living a life with intention is living with awareness of what brings you joy, what lights you up and what fuels your fire. In doing this you naturally become more present to everyday moments as you are hyper aware of what is bringing you joy in the now.
2. You have happier and healthier relationships
After I started living intentionally ALL of my relationships improved. So often we are quick to blame other people, to react in defensiveness and to create more drama in our relationships that we may not be aware of. When you start living intentionally, when you start taking responsibility for the things you can control and letting go of the stuff you cannot - your relationships will improve.
3. You are aligned with your values
Getting aligned with your personal core values is one of the foundations of living intentionally. When you know your North Star, when you know what is important to you in life, you naturally become more aligned, happier and joyful in your life. You find peace because you make decisions that are in total alignment with who you are at your core. It is amazing how many people do not know their life values… if this is you do not feel bad, as it is not something we were taught; it is however something easily learned and essential to living an intentional life.
>> If you are interested in learning how to define your core personal values check out my FREE indepth workbook here that takes you step-by-step through the process as well as gives you a core values list of over 180 core values. <<
4. You create healthy boundaries
When you are living an intentional life from your values, it is much easier to feel confident in creating healthy boundaries. You learn to let say no to things that no longer serve you and say yes to things that light you up. You begin to recognize relationships that drain you energy and are causing drama and toxicity in your life and you become more confident in setting boundaries that work for you.
5. You communicate more confidently
As you hone your skill of living with intention and you begin to take responsibility for your responses and reactions, you will find yourself being more aware of how you speak to others, how you communicate your needs which in turn leads to better communication with the ones we love.
6. You create better emotional and mental health
Living intentionally shines the spotlight on your mental and emotional health. You begin to recognize the importance, the need, the NECESSITY, of caring for your emotional and mental wellness which trickles into every aspect of your life. You learn how to stop the band-aid self care solutions and create the lasting emotional balance you are seeking.
7. You have better physical health
It has been proven time and time again that up to 70% of all physical health issues are directly correlated to stress. When you live more intentionally you are decreasing your stress, getting out of states of fear and worry and into the present moment. As you balance your mental and emotional health, your physical health also begins to balance (and guess what, there is no strict diet required)!
How Do You Live an Intentional Life?
If you have read this far you probably have a better idea of what is intentional living and why living a life of intention is beneficial, but you may be saying - yeah this sounds all fine and dandy Lora but how the heck do I actually do it? I am 100% digging the CONCEPT of Intentional Living but where do I start?
How do I begin to live more intentionally?
Well there is no one-size fits all when it comes to intentional living. There are many ways to live and be intentional. The key, it so find out what resonates with you, with your core values and with your vision for your life.
In the next phase of this Intentional Living guide I am going to take you through the HOW’s of Intentional Living.
How to Live More Intentionally
First, Start with a Foundation:
STEP 1. Make the Choice to Prioritize Your Mental and Emotional Wellness.
Just as you prioritize going to work, getting your hair done, taking kids to activities, watching your fave TV show…. You need to make the choice to invest in your emotional well being. Life is made up of choices and becoming intentional means you have to consciously choose to empower yourself by investing in your self awareness journey. Hint - taking the time to read stuff like this is being Intentional!
STEP 2. Know your Core Values.
Figure out what is really important to you in life. By really honing your values into your top 3-5 values it provides a compass on how to live your life and is the FOUNDATION of living an intentional life. If you cannot name your top 3-4 core values right now, then I want you to stop and download this FREE CORE VALUES WORKBOOK to get your started. I walk you through my exact process to determine your core values and provide you a list of core values examples. IDENTIFY YOUR CORE VALUES INSTANTLY!
STEP 3. Create Your Life Vision.
Have you ever sat down and really thought about what you want your life to look like in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? Without having some sort of Vision for your Life, it is like hoping in the car and asking Google Maps to just drive… Although I am sure this makes for a fun road-trip… you want to be the navigator of your life - not Google.
Who do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? How do you want to spend your time? Do you want a family? Do you want to be traveling? Do you want to be a Digital Nomad? In a Corporate career? By taking the time to determine what you want your life to look like in the coming years you are creating a destination for yourself and a North Star that is guiding your decisions and choices today. Not sure how to create your life vision? Guess, what I also have you covered. Check out my Life Vision Printable HERE!
Step 4 - Create a powerful Brain Based Vision Board
A what? A powerful brain based vision board that is a visualize representation of your goals and dreams. When you create a vision board (the proper way), it is a very powerful tool in your self development toolkit that keeps you intentional in the present and aligned with your future goals.
I have been vision boarding for over 11 years and have seen so many beautiful , amazing things happen in my life as a result of it.
To the point that I have combined my love of research-based brain evidence (the logic behind why this stuff works) with my love of crafting and creating vision boards to bring you my signature Brain Based Vision Board Workshop. Discover how to create your life-aligning vision board online here!
Second, add in practical strategies for each day
Once you have laid the foundational work, you want to add in practical strategies for each day. Remember, living an intentional life is very personal, so when looking through this list, please pick a few that resonate with you and start with them. You by no means have to do them all at once. This is just a starting point to get you on your way to living more intentionally.
What to Be Intentional About
Start being aware of time and the importance it has in your life. Time is the new currency. Start saying no to things that no longer serve you or bring your energy down and saying yes to things that ignite passion and sparks curiosity in your life.
Practical Action Step: Record how much time you are spending on things in your life. Record a day in your life and see where your time is really going? Activities? Scrolling? Tv?
The Media Your Consume
Clean up your Social Media and Email - Seriously - decluttering your mind is a HUGE part of being intentional. When you have a messy inbox, and a social media feed that makes you feel crappy it is hard to stay in a growth mindset. Unfollow. Block. Delete. Do it. Trust me. It feels glorious. All those ads from the stores you really don't need to be shopping at...delete. When you need to buy something, re-subscribe at that time. Delete some of the noise from your life. Today’s world is filled with distractions that can lead us astray from our values and intentions…. By intentionally choosing the media you consume, you are taking the first steps in being more intentional
Practical Action Step: Go through your email inbox and unsubscribe from 10 or more emails that you no longer wish to receive. Go through the social media channel you spend the most time on and unfollow or delete accounts that leave you feeling blah and follow accounts that make you happy.
Your Unique Skills and Talents
You are uniquely you. With unique gifts and talents to bring to the world. So often we glide through life not fully embracing our unique talents, passions and skills. Becoming more confident in knowing your strengths and weaknesses, your passions, your talents and your abilities - you learn to start loving yourself for who you genuinely are. Give your time and energy to this - it is by far one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
Practical Action Step: Write out 10 -15 things that you love and that you are good at. Are you using these skills and talents now? Are you making time for your hobbies? Think about ways you can incorporate them more into your life.
Your Spending Habits
Ask Why Before you Buy - ever find yourself at the online check out and clicking before you even give it another thought? My inbox used to be filled with all my favourite brands - never wanting to miss a sale. Yet when I stepped back and really asked myself “why” before I hit buy - I was able to not only save loads of money, but also start living a more intentional and minimalist lifestyle - helping not only my mental health but the planet too.
Practical Action Step: Next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling online, stop and ask yourself if you really really need that item… why do you need it? Will it bring you happiness? Is it a necessity? Stopping for that brief moment and asking Why before you buy is a great starting point to being more intentional.
Your Sleep + Self-Care
Humans are unable to function without sleep. Running on empty all the time is not conducive for your physical or mental health. Prioritize self care and rest so you can stay in a healthy mindset and tackle life feeling refreshed and energized. Go to bed an hour early and skip that tv show. Start re-defining self care and implementing it into your everyday.
Practical Action Step: Go to bed early 1-2 times this week. Take a nap if you can. Prioritize your sleep and allow yourself to engage in some sort of self-care routine that makes you happy.
Your To Do List
So often I hear that I do not have time to be intentional or to create a life I want because I am so gosh darn busy. One of the best quotes I heard that really shifted my view on my to do list was was from James Clear the bestselling author who wrote the Atomic Habits - said (paraphrase) instead of looking at your to do list and asking what can I do today - ask what can I take off today...
Practical Action Step: Ask yourself what you can take off to do list today... if you are not too sure about that or say Lora, there is nothing I can take off my to do list - then take this other tip from James Clear and divide your to-do list into 1) things I have to do, 2) things I want to do, and 3) things other people want me to do.
Yes. Your Breath. Becoming aware of your breath - even for seconds a day, is one of the most powerful self care tools you have and it is totally free. Simply bringing awareness to your breath throughout the day is a major step in living more intentionally. Breathwork and grounding strategies take moments to do, are 100% free and can shift your mindset in moments - bringing your out of fear, negativity and self doubt and back into calmness, level-headedness and awareness.
Practical Action Step: Stop right now, close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and breathe 4 big breaths. Can you do it? Did it feel weird to focus solely on breathing? Did your mind wander? Practice stopping and focusing on your breath for the next 24 hours - set an reminder if needed on your phone.
What brings you joy? Do it. Not sure what brings you joy anymore? I get it, I’ve been there. Take a moment to reflect on a hobby you used to have when you were younger that you no longer do anymore. Is it something you can re-incorporate into your life?
Practical Action Step: Find something that brings you joy - a specialty tea, doing a puzzle, crafting, working on your car, going for a walk, observing nature, doing your nails…sometimes the smallest actions bring us the greatest joy. Care out a few minutes today or this week for an activity that simply brings you joy.
Your Personal Energy
Learn how to protect your energy. If you are new to viewing the world through an energetic lens that I suggest you start here with The Ultimate Guide to your Personal Energy. Viewing life through an energetic lens is science. It is the future. It is how we need to start viewing our worlds to take control of our emotional and mental wellness.
Practical Action Step: Check out my Ultimate Guide to Your Personal Energy and educate yourself on the evolving and growing field of energy and how it impacts your day to day life.
Once you say something you can never take it back. Start being aware of your words and taking responsibility for what comes out of your mouth. It is all so easy to lash out at the ones we love. Learn to be more intentional about what you say before you say it.
Practical Action Step: Next time you are ready to snap at someone you love, take a moment to breath and bite your tongue before saying something you may later regret.
Do you have relationships that you know are draining your energy, that are unhealthy and leaving you feeling worse about yourself than better? Relationships are what makes humans be human. We all need connection. However sometimes, we can find ourselves in relationships that are tearing us down versus building us up. Doing a relationship inventory in your life will help you move away from the energy vampires and towards the energy boosters.
Practical Action Step: reflect on some of your closest relationships. Who do you spend the most time with? Is there a person in your life who is an energy vampire? Who is sucking all your energy out? Is there a way to distance from them, or create healthier boundaries? ON the other hand is there someone in your life who lights it up and you have not talked to in a while? Reach out, re-connect. You want to surround yourself with people who light you up.
Decluttering your physical space has been proven to bring calmness and mindfulness into your life. It has been shown to decrease stress. This doesn't mean you have to go and be a minimalist or feng-shui your whole house… it just means you start letting go of stuff you do not need, question why before you mindlessly buy, learning how to create capsule wardrobes, bringing more simplicity to your life. Let's be honest, do you really need those 10 tank tips - 8 of which you never wear? Start letting go of stuff, tidying up your space and creating room for clarity and calmness in your life.
Practical Action Step: Is there one room or even a drawer (yes I'm talking about that junk drawer we all have) that you can spend 10-15 minutes on clearing out? Even going through a drawer can start massive momentum in living more intentionally. Creating a sacred space to live in, is, in my opinion, one of the most fun parts of intentional living! Want to learn more - check out some of my post on biophilic interior design here!
Your Money + Money Mindset
Having your money all out of whack does not bring good energy into your life, and it is just a whole lotta stress you don't need. Having a negative money mindset is going to keep you exactly where you are year after year. Taking a serious look at your finances and your relationship with money can be scary AF - but guess what nobody else is going to come in and do it for you. If you were not taught how to do it, take a course and learn it. This is your future. Your financial legacy and you must learn how to manage it. Not only is this going to empower the F out of you, it is going to set you up for the future.
Practical Action Step: Ask yourself, are my finances in order? Or have I been putting my head in the sand when it comes to money? Is there a way I can create a healthier relationship with money? Once you determine what you need, go out and do it!
Ditch the diets okay? Start learning and playing the long game for your health. Learn about intuitive eating, start viewing food as fuel for your body, learn the basics of the food groups and make this a lifestyle versus a ‘quick fix to lose 20 lbs’ - Because we all know diets don’t work. Go back to basics. Baby steps.
Practical Action Step: Follow someone on social media who inspires you to live more holistically and healthy. Not from a 6 pack abs kind of view, but someone who teaches intuitive eating, healthy habits, etc…. This is not a task to make you feel bad about yourself, but rather a task to feel empowered about your eating!
Are you still with me? I know this list was exhaustive, but the reason I am giving so much information is that we are all unique and living an intentional life means something different for all of us. Choose 1 to 2 things that jumped out on the ‘what to be intentional about’ list above and try to incorporate the practical action steps into your day. Remember intentional living and embracing an inteintal lifestyle starts with baby steps each day. As Bill Gates so eloquently said: "We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can do in a year."
Don’t get stuck on changing everything today right now… because guess what? That is going to leave you frustrated, annoyed and back in the same space. Take it easy on yourself, and choose 1-2 things to focus on.
Next Steps on Your Intentional Living Journey
- Set Your Intentions. Learn how to Set Intentions with this blog post or download my Step-by-step intention Setting worksheet here.
- Define your Care Values - If you do not know your personal core values then click below to sign up for your FREE workbook
- Create your Life Vision - Need help? Check out the workbook here
- Create your Brain Based Vision Board
- Leave a comment below on what you struggle with most about intentional living, so I can help you own this journey and start living the life you want!
Discover how to set intentions that actually work. Grab my FREE identity-based goal setting framework below.