Curious if intentional living is for you? In this article, I break down the steps needed to create an intentional life you’ll love. At its heart, living life intentionally is aligning your inner values with your daily decisions. This creates harmony in your home, mind and spirit.
It’s Friday night, you take a sip of rosé and find yourself aimlessly browsing Sephora’s website.
“NEW NEED NOW” is plastered across the top of the page, a subtle reminder to purchase your makeup with a slight sense of urgency.
Your cart is filled with impulse items – an eye shadow palette named Extravagance and a gel eyebrow pen that’s slightly darker than the two you already own. Since your Mastercard information is saved on file, all you have to do is hit “buy now” when you’re bored of scrolling.
Soon, a light brown cardboard box will arrive on your doorstep.
You feel a familiar dopamine hit as you unpack the new goodies.
But a week later, as you search through a sea of bottles and tubes for your dental floss lost in your overflowing bathroom drawers, you realize that the thrill of impulse shopping as worn off quickly once again.
Those who walk the path of intentional living tend to notice a pattern in their lives. Wake up, work, wish it was the weekend, repeat.
Despite decent jobs and homes filled with trendy decorations and the hottest new electronics, something feels off. Life looks amazing on the outside, but internally we ask ourselves “is this it?”
But of course there’s more! And that’s where intentional living comes in.
Oh, and before we move on let me be clear. I won’t shame you for wanting money, nice things or shopping. You can have all of this while living with intention.
There’s a lot of info below, so be sure to bookmark this post and come back to it as often as you need to. I also recommend having a journal or notebook handy to write out your answers to the questions you’ll find throughout the road map.
PHASE ONE - INTENTIONAL LIVING FOUNDATIONS
1. Set an intention.
Firstly, let’s look ahead at the life you wish to create.
Close your eyes and take a deep relaxing inhale and exhale. Pause. Be in the present moment.
Grab your journal, consider the following questions and write out your honest answers:
- Why do you want to live an intentional life?
- What feels off in your life right now?
- How will intentional living bring you closer to the person you’re meant to be?
Now, think ahead a year from now. If you commit to living with intention, where do you see yourself?
- What core parts of your life have changed?
- How do you spend your days?
- How do you feel?
Now you can write out your intention in the present tense. Avoid using words like “hope, wish, will or try”, as they subtly suggest that your intention may not come true.
Instead, fill in the sentence:
By living my life a life that’s true to me, I intend to _____________________.
Intentions are a powerful force in creating positive change. Keep your answers to these questions and return to them regularly. They will provide the basis of your decisions as you take control of your life.
2. Define Your Values
This is your invitation to stop living life on autopilot, going through the motions and doing what you’re supposed to do.
Instead, empower yourself to show up fully in your life. Get clear on what’s important to you and then create a life in alignment with the core of who you are.
Here are questions to ask yourself:
- When am I happiest?
- What gives me energy in life vs drains my energy?
- What is my highest wish for the global community?
- If I had unlimited time and resources, how would I spend my days?
After you answer the questions above, reflect on your current life. Are there opportunities for you to make new, better decisions that will align with your answers?
As turned towards a more intentional life in 2006, one of the first changes I made was to my diet. I stopped eating meat because it aligned with my values.
I don’t believe everyone should be a vegetarian, but this was an important decision I made for myself.
If you’re veg-curious and looking for a welcoming space for all eaters, check out Vegetarian Zen. Vickie and Larissa do an amazing job of sharing their values without shaming others. Their focus on compassionate lifestyles includes how we treat animals, fellow humans and the planet. This is values-based living at its best!
Remember, your life is full of choices that impact yourself and others. Being guided by your values helps make sure you stay in alignment with your best self.
You only get one life, so make your decisions wisely.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
To live with intention, it’s essential you establish healthy boundaries in regards to your time, energy and decisions.
Often, we say yes to commitments for fear of letting others down. This results in overbooked schedules, constant busyness and resentment.
Grab your journal and reflect on your relationship with boundaries:
- Describe of a time you said “yes” when deep down you wished you had said no. How did it make you feel?
- Do you think saying “no” when you’re invited out is rude? If so, where did this belief come from?
- Think about your extended family. Do they practice healthy boundaries? Or is everyone expected to do anything for the family?
- What fears do you have around saying “no?”
Living with intention means getting clear on your boundaries and sticking to them. For support, I recommend you follow @nedratawwab on Instagram.
She consistently shares valuable content that will help you set healthy boundaries.
4. Get Critical of the Media
To live with intention, you have to question the advertising stories we’ve been sold.
In the earliest days of my intentional living path, I was amazed at how many beliefs I held simply because I saw them on TV.
Take shaving cream for example.
For years I would only buy Gillette shaving cream because of the ads I saw on TV. They warned me that using regular soap would dull their blades. But once I stopped using many traditional soaps, creams and lotions, I realized that message was only meant for me to buy their products.
For over ten years I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s castile soap instead, and my razors are just fine.
But why would they lie?
The media’s job is to make money. And intentional living is a chance to break away from the thousands of ads and messages we’re subjected to daily.
Choose products based on your values. Don’t let commercials convince you to upgrade your phone out of fear of missing out. Buy a new phone because it’s what you really want!
Find freedom in shopping for what you want and need instead of being convinced by advertisements.
PHASE TWO - EDIT YOUR LIFE
Now that you’ve set your foundation for intentional living, it’s time to move onto your life edit.
This is where you’ll create mental clarity and a living space that supports and mirrors your intentions and values.
Remember, it’s all connected.
5. Clear Your Physical Clutter
It’s 11:24am and you’ve torn your closet apart looking for your black wool cardigan again. You’re meeting your cousin who you haven’t seen for months for a socially distanced coffee date at noon.
You’ve been anticipating this joyous reunion all week, but right now you’re overcome with frustration because you’re running late.
If only you could find what you’re looking for in your closet!
I believe clearing clutter is the most powerful way to create tangible change in your life. It boosts your confidence, creates calm and leaves room for the activities and people you love the most.
Purging your excess matches your living space to the intentions and values you uncovered in the first phase of this road map.
There’s no ideal number of belongings to own or aesthetic to achieve. Just clear what doesn’t serve you and enjoy what you keep.
As a professional organizer, I’ve noticed similarities between my clients.
1. They’re good people, but they’ve been busy living life without making their home a priority. Now they’re ready to clear away years of stuff to make room for the next phase in their lives.
2. They need a process to repeat to take the overwhelm out of decluttering. Going into an organizing session without a game plan makes everything harder.
And that’s why I created the Clear Your Life Method!
Once you’ve got the method down, you can focus on the main areas of your home. Below are individual blogs filled with project ideas and inspiration:
- Kitchen – clear space to enjoy your meals
- Bathroom – get ready in the morning with less stress
- Office – you’ll have room to create best work
- Bedroom – sleep soundly and wake up refreshed
These articles take the overwhelm out of clearing clutter. You’ll clear space, build confidence and create an intentional living space with ease.
6. Clear Your Mental Clutter
Did you know we have anywhere between 12,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day? No wonder we’re often exhausted by the time our heads hit our pillows at night!
Getting swept up in these thoughts block you from living intentionally.
Here are simple practices to clear your mental clutter to live with more clarity:
- Set boundaries around phone usage. Commit to not checking your phone until after breakfast in the morning. When you reach for your phone first thing in bed, you flood your mind with other people’s opinions and messages. It’s integral that you create space to wake up intentionally instead.
- Meditate. Even one minute a day makes an incredible difference in your focus, clarity and calm. Check out the Headspace App for guided meditations (not an affiliate link I just think it’s great)
- Wake up with intention. Count three deep breaths each morning before you get out of bed
- Journal and allow your thoughts to flow daily. Check in with how you’re feeling, where you’re at and always keeping an inspiring vision of the future you’re building towards
If these practices feel intimidating, just start with one for the next 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days, I promise!
7. Clear Your Finances
Aligning your spending with your values is a core part of intentional living.
Go back to the values and let it guide your spending.
Now ask yourself these questions:
- Do you support and spend money on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) owned businesses?
- Do you know how the companies you support treat their employees and contracted workers?
- How do they impact the environment?
Does where you spend your money align with your core values? If they don’t line up, make this a priority immediately.
Intentional finances also mean living without needless debt. If you have debt, start with compassion and forgiveness for yourself.
Until you accept your past behaviours and commit to new and better ones, you’ll stay stuck in a cycle of guilt. Sadly, this won’t allow you to move forward with your intentional spending plans.
After you’ve released the guilt, it’s time to get to work.
I highly recommend you check out this article by Jason Zook on getting out of debt.
It has everything you need to face your debt and take inspired action to get rid of it. Jason has even included free spreadsheets and checklists to make the process more organized.
PHASE 3 - INTENTIONAL LIVING TODAY + BEYOND
Once you’ve hit this stage of the road map, you’re ready to make intentional living a daily practice that benefits humanity as a whole.
A life lived with intention creates harmony for those who choose this path, but also improves their communities.
It begins with your smallest daily actions and then spreads to how you can show up to add more goodness to the world.
Let’s take a look.
8. Stick to Better Habits
Intentional living isn’t a one and done exercise. To consistently live with intention means showing up every day and practice sustainable habits.
Easy examples to get you started:
- 5 minutes of journal writing per day
- Clearing one area of clutter per day until it’s at an acceptable level
- Buying what you need/not because you’re bored or trying to fill an emotional void
9. Be of Service
An intentional life is meant to lifts others up, not just benefit yourself. Now it’s time to ask yourself “how can I be of service?”
This will look different for everyone, depending on the time and money you have to give. But the beauty of intentional living is that you can create a life in which you’re rich in time and resources by choosing wisely.
Relect on these questions:
- If I had more time, how could I use it to improve my local community?
- If I had more money, where could I reallocate a portion of it to help others?
- What are my greatest strengths that can help organizations with their mission?
AN INTENTIONAL LIFE CAN BE YOURS
Remember that version of you that was shopping out of boredom at the beginning of this post?
They’re ready for more.
More physical space, mental clarity and purpose.
Ready to show up fully in life and make powerful decisions to carve out their own beautiful life.
Don’t let another aimless day go by.
Comment below with a step you’re ready to take in your intentional living journey!