In my last post, I shared what being intentional means and the benefits of living a purposeful and intentional life. But how do you do it? Just how do you live a more intentional life? Here’s my beginner’s guide on how to live intentionally – with plenty of ways you can get started today!
I highly recommend reading the whole post first so that you can get a good overview. Then pick out a few of the tips and start implementing them. Make sure you pin this post too so that you can come back to it later and implement a few more!
So, are you ready to discover how to live intentionally? Let’s dive in!
(This post might contain affiliate links which means that if you click through and make a purchase, I make a small commission. Read my disclosure policy here.)
How to live intentionally…
Before we start, I want you to know that when it comes to living more intentionally, there is no magic pill. Nor is there a button you can push to suddenly make it happen. It takes work and dedication. And as the name suggests, it has to be done intentionally.
Essentially, what you’re doing is creating new habits. And that takes time and energy. But I promise you it’s time and energy well spent!
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard. Nor is it complicated. You can start off small AND you can start today. All you need to do is take action. Do something, anything, to get started!
And so, with the tough love out of the way, let’s take a look at the first thing you can do to start living intentionally today!
#1. Start small to avoid overwhelm
Make being more intentional about the way you live your life easier by starting small. Yes, it’s great to have big goals, to feel ambitious and to want to change the world. But it doesn’t all have to be done today! And thinking that it does is just going to leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Know that you don’t have to change everything at once. Not every little thing you do has to be intentional or serve some bigger purpose. To get started, simply focus on one small change. What’s one small improvement you can make? Break those big goals down into baby steps and suddenly they’ll seem much more doable.
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#2. Live intentionally by making intentional choices every day
If you want to live intentionally you need to get rid of any habits that no longer serve you and create new ones that do. The key to making new habits is to make a choice to do things differently every single day. This also holds true for living with purpose and being more intentional about how you live your life.
Set aside a couple of minutes each morning to decide what intentional choices you’ll make that day. Reminding yourself to do something positive every single day might be a small, simple act but it’ll make living intentionally feel effortless. And by taking the time to live more intentionally every single day, you’ll start to see a lot of positive change in a relatively short space of time.
#3. Remind yourself of your ‘WHY’
When you first start out on your journey to living more intentionally, you’ll need to constantly remind yourself WHY you’re doing it. And so, it’s important to keep your ‘WHY’ at the forefront of your mind.
Using a journal or positive affirmations can help here. You could even write down your ‘WHY’ on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself why you want to change and your intentions behind wanting to change. It’ll help keep you motivated to continue to create those new habits and bring about the changes you want to make.
#4. Think before you act
It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and keep doing what we’re doing because that’s how we’ve always done it. But being more intentional gives us a chance to break those routines. Have something you want to be more intentional about? Try thinking before you act. Ask yourself:
- Will doing this get me closer to my goal?
- Should I do this in the first place?
- Does it align with my intentions?
- Is it the best use of my time and energy?
- Is this the best way to do it?
These questions make great journaling prompts too. So, anytime you need to think something through, grab a notebook and pen and use them to help you formulate and implement your intentions.
#5. Live intentionally by setting SMART goals
Goals are important because they guide us and give us direction. But how we set our goals is important too. A badly formulated goal can lead us astray. So, make sure your goals are specific, realistic and have a deadline. For example, don’t just say you want a closer relationship with your daughter. Instead, make your goal to have a 10-minute chat with her every day for the next 30 days to make sure you’re part of each other’s lives.
Having short and long-term goals will help too. For example, if your long-term goal was to be self-sufficient and raise and grow all you eat, a great short-term goal would be to grow your own vegetables and can what you don’t use.
How can you break what you want to accomplish into smart goals?
#6. Keep a journal
If you’re going to use the above questions as journal prompts, you’re going to need a journal! Keeping a journal is great way to make sure you stay on track. Just like meditation (see #7), writing enforces what you’re trying to do and the process of writing things down can be a great way to clear your head. It can help you to work through any obstacles or issues that arise too.
A journal will also help you hold yourself accountable and it’s a great tool for staying motivated too. Whenever you feel like you’re not making progress, all you need to do is spend a few minutes reading through past entries. Seeing how far you’ve come already will motivate you to keep going.
Not sure what to write? Here are a few journaling prompts posts to get you started:
- Powerful journaling prompts for self-discovery
- Journaling prompts to get to know yourself better
- 100 self-reflection questions for personal growth
If you want to live more intentionally, you have to be clear about what you want to accomplish. One of my favourite ways to achieve that clarity is through meditation. Find a little quiet time a few times a week (or preferably once a day) to clear your mind and meditate on your intentions. With the clarity gained, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what you need to do. Not only will the path become clearer but it’ll be easier to take the right actions too.
New to meditation? Start off with something simple like a few breathing exercises. Even just sitting quietly, letting your mind calm down, and allowing yourself to daydream about your intentions will help. You can always journal about what came to mind afterwards too.
A great place to start – especially if you don’t like getting out of bed in the mornings – is THIS post from Brainz Magazine. It totally gives you permission to keep hitting that snooze button!
#8. Learn more about what you want to be intentional about
Want to know why it’s super easy to be intentional about something when you first start out? Because it’s new and exciting! And that makes it easy to stay motivated and make those small changes you need to make. But after a while, the excitement fades and so does your drive and motivation.
The best way to bring back that excitement? Immersing yourself in the topic and continuing to learn something new about it. That’s exactly why I love to read books about personal growth and why I listen to motivational podcasts and TED Talks. They keep me excited and they fuel my desire to keep going.
Take a course or class. Read up on the topic online. Do what you can to keep learning and keep staying excited about the things you want to be intentional about.
- Related: A year of personal development tips
#9. Live intentionally by surrounding yourself with like-minded people
Another great strategy to help you live intentionally is to surround yourself with likeminded people. Getting regular exercise is a lot easier when you join a class or a walking group. Eating better and losing weight becomes more fun if you have a weight loss buddy.
Join local groups, associations, or find online friends with the same interests so you can support and encourage one another and learn from each other. Never underestimate the value of a strong support system!
#10. Do it anyway!
This is one of my favourite philosophies. We all have days when we feel like we can’t do it. Times where we feel down and start to second-guess ourselves. We all make mistakes and we don’t always see the progress we were hoping to make. And we all have moments where we feel like we’re not good enough.
Those moments can be incredibly discouraging and they can become roadblocks on our journey to live intentionally. But don’t let them stop you! Instead, take action even when you don’t feel like it.
- When you don’t feel like it? Do it anyway!
- When you aren’t good at it? Do it anyway!
- When you might make mistakes? Do it anyway!
The amazing thing about ‘doing it anyway’? Once you get going, those doubts and negative feelings start to fade away! You’ll be too busy taking action to worry or second-guess yourself. Do something, anything on that list of things you want to do today to move you closer to your goals. Get the ball rolling, gain momentum and you’ll be living more intentionally before you know it!
#11. Stop and evaluate frequently
Another good strategy to help you live intentionally is to stop every few weeks and evaluate if what you’re doing is working for you. Are you starting to see results? Is what you’re doing aligned with your intentions and your purpose?
If it isn’t, make some changes and create new habits until you find a new routine that works well for you and what you want to accomplish. Do this regularly and you’ll soon find your groove.
- Related: 12 habits for a better life
#12. Live intentionally by noticing changes
Another action you can take to help you live intentionally is paying attention to changes both in yourself and those around you. This is beneficial for a couple of different reasons. First, seeing that the changes you are making is having a positive effect can be incredibly motivating. Second, noticing changes serves as a good feedback mechanism.
The more you watch your changes, the more you’ll notice whether they’re bringing about the results you are looking for. If they are, great! Keep doing what you’re doing and consider ramping things up. If they’re not, ask yourself why and what you need to do to switch things up.
For instance, let’s go back to the example of talking with your daughter over breakfast every morning that I mentioned earlier. If your intention is to strengthen your relationship but instead you observe your daughter withdrawing, it’s time to have a second look. Maybe the setting is too formal. Maybe you’re being too pushy and asking too many questions, making her uncomfortable. Back off and try a gentler approach until you see positive changes in both of you that indicate you’re getting closer.
#13. Give yourself grace
Listen, we’re all human and we’re all going to make mistakes from time to time. There will be days when we fall into old habits. Times when we do something that’s completely counterproductive to our intentions. Times where we self-sabotage and days when we can’t get anything done at all – no matter how hard we try. It’s inevitable and beating ourselves up over it isn’t going to help.
Instead, be gracious and forgiving with yourself. Tomorrow is another day and you can always start again. Vow to do better and move on. Whatever you do, don’t use those mistakes as an excuse to get lazy and never accomplish anything. Realise that you’re not perfect, that it’s okay to fail sometimes. It’s how we learn and how we grow.
#14. Review your intentions regularly
Because things don’t always work the way we expect them to and because things change, it’s important to take time to review your intentions regularly. At the end of every month, review how things went. Make a short list of what’s working and what you’d like to change before moving on with your new month of intentional living. It only takes a few minutes to do but your future self will thank you!
#15: Live intentionally by remembering that this is a journey
Finally, I want you to remind yourself that being more intentional and living life to the fullest is a journey. Like I said in the beginning, there is no magic pill. It takes time. Living intentionally is something you build up to over time. It’s also something that will naturally evolve and change as you do.
Just like you take a journey of a thousand miles one step at a time, you need to take living intentionally one action, one intention and one day at a time. Make those small changes. Keep working on them, keep adding to them and keep living more and more with purpose and intent.
How to live intentionally…
Follow the steps above and it won’t take long for those small changes to add up to big changes. Before you know it, your life will have changed for the better. Here are the steps to help you live intentionally again:
- #1. Start small to avoid overwhelm.
- #2. Make intentional choices every day.
- #3. Remind yourself of your ‘why’.
- #4. Think before you act.
- #5. Set SMART goals.
- #6. Keep a journal.
- #7. Meditate.
- #8. Learn more about what you want to be intentional about.
- #9. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
- #10. Do it anyway!
- #11. Stop and evaluate frequently.
- #12. Notice changes.
- #13. Give yourself grace.
- #14. Review your intentions regularly.
- #15: Remember that this is a journey.
That’s it for this post! Which of my steps to help you live intentionally will you implement first? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
Did you like this post? You’ll LOVE these too!
- What does being intentional mean?
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About the Author
Hey there! In case we haven’t met, I’m Sarah, the founder of A Simple and Contented Life. The online coaching practice that helps moms and mompreneurs with an online biz create more balance so that they can thrive both at home and at work WITHOUT feeling like they have to choose between the two.
A certified master life coach, transformation coach, goal success coach and self-published author, I’m also an Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine, a proud mum of two, a besotted wife, breast cancer survivor and your mentor for making a change for the better.
When I’m not helping my clients and club members create a great home life and business of their dreams, you’ll find me in my favourite Starbucks curled up in a chair, book in one hand, hazelnut latte in the other or attempting to walk my somewhat lazy Frenchie pup Arthur!
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