Intentional living is used as a synonym for a minimalist lifestyle all over the internet. Although minimalism is one of the way to live an intentional life, it is not the only path to an intentional life. Minimalism is a lifestyle choice which may or may not suit everyone out there. Today I want to share my way of an intentional life without being a minimalist.
What is Intentional Living?
I am not authorised to give out definitions on intentional living because I am no researcher. But here is my understanding of intentional living –
“A lifestyle which lets you spend your time, money and emotions on things that are of importance to you. Intentional livings brings a person closer to the state of bliss by providing a ‘why’ for all his actions and words.”
I have a complete dedicated post where I talk about the myths and facts related to intentional living. You can check it right here.
Why should you live intentionally?
I recently wrote a post on living a meaningful life where I said that a meaningful life is when you have expression, joy and contentment. Intentional living is a powerful way to live such a life of bliss.
Intentional living makes your life choices easier because you have a framework to find out if your choices are in alignment with your true self or not. Imagine you are stuck in a situation where you had a date with this guy with a fancy job and a fancy care who is passionate about internet gaming. Everything about him looks nice. Now when he asks you for the second date, you can refer your intentions that you set and know if you want this lifestyle for yourself or not (which will be different for everyone).
Intentional living will mainly give you a purpose for everything you say and do in life (not the ‘purpose of your life’ cliché). This will take out the part where you get upset and think ‘what is the point of this life?’
How to live an intentional life?
You need to understand that an intentional life is not just a switch away. You need to put in efforts, time and thought to live such a life. But it is no rocket science either. So if you have the determination and curiosity to create an intentional life, there are 4 (not simple) steps you need to follow.
1. Evaluate your existing life
Before you make some major changes, you need to evaluate your existing lifestyle. It is so important to find out what amount of time do you spend on unintentional activities, the activities that don’t bring joy or meaning.
Do a thorough life audit if possible, but if you do not have a lot of time, just take a look at your normal day. Write down all the things that you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep.
Once you have a look at your day, identify the activities that don’t bring you joy and meaning and you want to change. It can be something as small as your pastime habits to something as big as your job. Also, identify the activities that already make your life rich. One of my favourite ways to do a life audit is using the Level 10 Life planner. It evaluates your life in each area and helps you set goals accordingly.
2. Set Your Intentions
I am going to be honest with you here. The second step is very time-consuming and thought provoking. Setting your intentions is the most crucial step to intentional living. When you set the right intentions, the next steps will flow effortlessly.
I myself failed at setting the right intentions in the beginning. Very recently, I figured out an amazing way to set the right intentions. There are other methods as well which I will discuss later, but here is what worked for me. It is inspired by two amazing books I read – The gifts of imperfection by Brene Brown and The happiness project by Gretchen Rubin.
Concept 1 –
In ‘The gifts of imperfection’, I discovered an amazing concept called ‘Ingredients of joy and meaning.’ I have talked about this in detail in Master your Mindset – 3 effective techniques. The ingredients of joy and happiness is a list of all the things that bring happiness and meaning to your life. Brene claims that once you write that list, you will notice that it is often different from your goals list.
I have created a workbook to get started with your journey by setting your intentions. You can grab it here.
In the book ‘The happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin has shared 12 commandments that she follows throughout her happiness project. Commandments are some principles that she follows to keep her happiness project on track.
Now here is how you can use these two concepts to set your intentions.
- Make a list of things that bring you joy and meaning
- Use the above list to set your principles for a meaningful life.
These principles are essentially my intentions for my happiness project which will be a lifelong practice.
The intention setting process is more in-depth which is discussed in the Intention Setting Workbook. It is a 5 page workbook to help you set the right intentions.
Intentions do not have to be defined in principles. They can be simple words as well, words that define you and your true self. Setting intentions in form of words has not worked for me but might work for you. For more inspiration on intentional living check out my pinterest board – Intentional Living. There are some amazing resources on that board if you want to check them out.
3. Create a lifestyle
Your life is probably not going to change over a weekend. To change your life, you need to create a lifestyle, and your lifestyle is a combination of your habits, routines and preferences.
In this step go ahead and create a morning routine and night routine that makes you feel aligned with your intentions. For example, one of my intention is ‘write it down’, so I have created a journaling and writing ritual in my morning routine.
Start changing one habit at a time. Do you spend too much time on social media? Pick up an habit that is in line with your intentions such as read a book or go for a walk or even spend time with friends (physically and not over the internet). Here is one of my blog post on How to create a habit?
And the last thing in creating your lifestyle are your preferences. Veganism is a lifestyle choice and they have set their preferences to eat plant based food. Similarly following spirituality is a lifestyle and those people have set their preferences to make time for their spiritual growth. So make choices that support your intentions in your day to day life.
4. Review, Refresh & Renew
You are all set to create an amazing life of happiness and satisfaction. But once you start off, make sure to review, refresh and renew. Let me elaborate.
Review if these intentions are relevant to your happiness. If these intentions are causing you low anxiety or inconvenience then its fine because lifestyle changes are not easy. But if it not bringing you any amount of happiness or the ‘feeling good’ at the end of the day, you can refresh or renew these intentions. Tweak them or change them altogether.
The process is long, but trust me it is satisfying! The amount of satisfied joy you feel is incomparable. So keep working on your intentions and start living an intentional life.