Living with intention can make all the difference in how we feel about our lives and how we spend our time. Let me explain what I mean. Do you ever find yourself doing the same things day after day, month after month, and year after year? I know I do at times. It’s so easy to find ourselves in a rut and to live our days without any thought at all about we want to do with our time. That’s why I want to talk about living with intention today.
What is Living with Intention?
When we talk about living with intention, first we need to understand exactly what that is. I could just say that it is the opposite of living in a rut. But that wouldn’t explain what it means. Living our lives with intention begins with awareness. Maybe we become aware that our lives are passing by with little to no meaning attached to our actions. We may just become aware that we are bored. OR we may see or read about someone who is doing amazing things with their life, through their work or during their free time. No matter how we become aware that there must be more to life for us, the important thing is that we do develop that awareness.
After we become aware that we are missing out on experiences in life, we can choose how to create the life we want to live. That’s right! We make our own choices every day. So, we can choose to continue living the way we are, or we can choose to make a change. In order to live with intention, we must choose to do things differently. And therein lies the rub my friends. If we want to live with intention, to create a meaningful life for ourselves, we have to make some changes in the way we do things. The beauty of this is that we can to choose which changes to make, according to our values and what is important to us.
Why Do We Want to Live with Intention?
Just because we respect how someone else lives her life doesn’t mean we want to live the same way. For instance, we may admire someone like Jane Goodall http://www.janegoodall.org who devoted her life to the study of chimpanzees in the wild forests of Africa; however, that doesn’t mean we want to go to Africa to live among the chimpanzees too. We may just want to travel to Africa to see the endangered giraffes or elephants before they disappear from the wild. The change we may need to make is to plan that trip and make it happen.
This is why we want to live with intention. We want to do things that are important to us; to live our own lives the way we see fit! The changes we make in our lives are those that create personal meaning for us. Perhaps that means volunteering with the homeless. Maybe you want to learn to paint or to make jewelry. You can make a goal to see all the National Parks in the U.S.; maybe you can volunteer in a National Park or become a docent at a historical home. Perhaps you have always wanted to open a gift shop. For every one of us, there is something specific that we wanted to do but never attempted. When we decide to do that particular thing and make plans to carry it out, that is living intentionally!
How to Live with Intention
So, about this change; have you ever wanted to make a change, say like exercising more, losing weight, or praying/meditating more? How did that work for you? Not so great, huh? The fact is that making a change in the way you do things in life, even a small one, is NOT easy. I know it and you do too. We can do things differently for a day or two, maybe even a week or so. But, making that change stick for a month and beyond is hard! “Losing weight” is too general. We have to define exactly how we plan to lose weight, how much to lose, how long losing a specific amount of weight will take, will it involve cutting calories or increasing activity? That’s why I’m going to break it down into steps for you.
The first step is that awareness we talked about. You need to become aware that you want to make your life different in a specific way. That doesn’t just happen overnight without effort. You have to make it happen. To start, I want you to sit in a comfortable chair right now. Yes, I do mean right now! Put both your feet on the floor and your hands with palms down on top of your thighs. Sit with your back straight. You don’t want to slouch down into a big puffy chair. Sit with good posture and close your eyes. Breathe naturally.
Now, I want you to inhale to a count of about 5. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds and then exhale to a longer count of 8-10 seconds. As you exhale, relax your muscles from your head/neck area to your feet. B-R-E-A-T-H-E, inhale, exhale. Keep repeating and as you do I want you to become aware of your body parts. Feel the weight of your hands on your thighs, the pressure of your buttocks as they meet the chair, and the weight of your feet on the floor. Scan down through your muscles to become aware of any tension or discomfort. You don’t have to change position, just be aware of how your body feels.
Become aware of any emotions you might be feeling. Are you feeling anxiety, anger, or a pleasant soft mood? Does intentionally inhaling and exhaling feel weird or comfortable to you? How might you want to change your emotions and why? How would it feel to step out of your comfort zone to experience something different in your life? Would you be scared of doing something different or is there something that you want to change so much that what you feel is determination and not fear? Capture that awareness in your mind.
Now sit quietly and breathe naturally. Turn your thoughts to change. If there was only one change you could make to live differently, what would that be?
This has everything to do with realizing what your values in life are. What is important to you? Maybe you want to make a difference in this world in some way. Perhaps you want to run a marathon. Or maybe you want to travel to a country outside the U.S. to see how others live.https://adventuresbeyondthenest.com/create-your-doable-bucket-list/ There are so many different ways that you might want to make a change and only you know which one is most important and right for you. You might have several changes you want to make. I highly recommend prioritizing those changes and choosing just one to start. It’s hard enough to make one significant change and make it stick without trying to change more than one thing at a time.
Brainstorm ways you can make that change. Of course, this depends on what kind of change you want to make. For instance, if you want to travel to another country (or even another state you’ve never visited), there are many logistics to consider when planning a big trip. However, if you want to make a change like being kind to everyone you meet, that might involve placing sticky notes on your mirror or your refrigerator just as a reminder to “BE KIND” every day.
Create a plan to work on your change every single day. A plan of action if you will. This is very important! Create a timeline with your plan of action. Set deadlines to meet. For example, if you’re planning the trip, set a deadline to decide exactly where you want to go. Set another deadline for completing your research on the trip. Decide when you want to make the trip. Nail it down to the month and week you want to travel. Finally, set deadlines to make your hotel or Airbnb reservations, to buy your airline tickets, to decide whether you want to drive while there or travel by train and make those reservations, etc.
Let’s say you want to make it a priority to be kind to everyone; start with a goal to show kindness to one person a day. Do that until you feel comfortable and then up your goal to two people a day. Keep making goals to increase the number of people you are kind to until, at the end of the first month, you are showing little kindnesses to half the people you see every day. Continue making little deadlines of how many people you can be kind to until you feel comfortable showing kindness to everyone you see every day. It’s become a habit now. You are being kind WITH INTENTION!
You CAN Live with Intention!
While you may not be living intentionally today, you CAN live your life with intention. If you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and create a new way to live, you can do it! It starts with becoming aware that you want your life to be different.
Wanting your life to be different means changing the way you do things. There’s a saying that goes, “If you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results.” To put it another way, “If you want your life to be different, you have to do things differently.” That means you have to choose to change. Brainstorm ways to make the necessary change that is most important to you. How can you live your values? Create a plan of action to make that change. Set deadlines for each step necessary to make that change happen.
Then just do it! Take each step, meet each deadline, make that change, and live the new life you’ve created with intention!
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