Add to cart? Yes!
It’s Friday night, you take a sip of your rosé and find yourself browsing Sephora’s website (again).
The headline on their home page says it all: NEW. NEED. NOW.
Your cart is full of impulse items like an eye shadow palette (titled Extravagance!) and gel eyebrow pen that’s slightly darker than the two you already own. And since your Mastercard information is saved on file, in 30 minutes when you’re bored of scrolling all you have to do is hit “buy.”
Soon, a cardboard box will arrive on your doorstep.
The box is filled with makeup to add to your overflowing bathroom drawers, and you feel the familiar rush of unpacking it all.
But the next time you’re digging through your messy bathroom you realize the impulse buy excitement has worn off (again).
Lately, you notice your life has developed a pattern: wake up, work, wish it was the weekend, repeat.
Despite your decent job and home filled with trendy decorations and the hottest new electronics, something feels off. Your life looks amazing on the outside, but internally, you ask yourself “is this it?”
And that’s where intentional living comes in.
[Important to note – I’m not here to shame you for wanting money, nice things or shopping. You can have all of this while living with intention, so keep reading!]
This road map takes the broad idea of intentional living and puts it into specific actions you can take (starting today) to create your own intentional life.
At its heart, living life intentionally is aligning your inner values with your daily decisions. This creates harmony in your home, mind and spirit.
And the beautiful part of creating a life with intention?
It’s yours to design!
It will look different for everyone, as it should.
Intentional living doesn’t happen overnight, there are multiple layers to address in your life. So, find out where you are on the road map below and begin creating your life, on your terms.
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 begin by setting your intention.
This is a chance to look ahead at the life you create, instead of just being along for the ride.
When you’re ready, get your notebook and pen.
Now close your eyes and take a deep relaxing inhale and exhale. Pause. Be in the present moment.
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?
With these answers fresh in your mind, 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 this sentence:
By living my life a life that’s true to me, I intend to ____________.
2. Define Your Values
Clearly knowing your values guides your decision making as you live with intention.
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?
An example from my personal values is my vegetarian diet.
Do I think not eating meat is for everyone? No. But it’s right for ME.
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 intentionally, establish healthy boundaries in regards to your time, energy and decisions.
Often, we say yes to commitments for fear of letting others down or saying no. This results in overbooked schedules, feeling like you have no time for yourself and resentment.
Grab your journal and reflect on your relationship with boundaries.
- Describe of a time you said “yes” when deep down you wish you had said no. How did it make you feel?
- Do you think saying “no” when you’re asked to give your time 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. Reevaluate Your Relationship with the Media
Intentional living uncovers the false stories we’ve been told.
Here’s an example.
Think of a shaving gel commercial created by the same company that sells 6-blade razors. Often, these commercials tell you to not use soap when you shave because it will dull the blades.
Instead, you’re told to buy their overpriced 2-in-1 Alpine Clean Fresh Scented Shave Gel.
Before I began on my intentional living path, if a commercial told me that soap would dull the blades on my razors, I believed it.
Then I’d take out my Visa in Shoppers Drug Mart and dutifully purchase the shave gel without a second thought.
Now that I’m more critical of media messaging, I see it was always just a ploy to sell more shaving cream.
Funny enough, I’ve been using peppermint castile soap for my personal and home needs for over ten years. Miraculously, my razors still work fine!
Now here’s another question – are you worried that intentional living means you shouldn’t shop anymore?
Nope, that’s not it at all.
Instead, intentional living invites you to understand when and why you buy items. Learn the difference between shopping with intention, boredom or FOMO (fear of missing out).
Intentional purchase: your current phone’s camera stops working every couple of days without explanation. You research and buy a new phone with upgraded camera that encourages your creativity and adds a level of ease to your life.
Boredom purchase: you get in a fight with your mother-in-law and end up on Best Buy to avoid your feelings. You see a newer version of your phone has come out and figure “eh, why not?” and purchase it.
FOMO purchase: you buy the newest iPhone on credit because everyone at work has one and you’re afraid of being out of the loop.
Intentional living encourages you to define your own version of a good life, not the one that advertising executives skillfully craft for you to spend more of your money.
Pay attention to your emotions when you shop. And learn to take a step back from advertisements and determine how they affect you.
With each purchase, your intuition on how and why you spend your money will grow stronger.
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.
1. Clear Your Physical Clutter
It’s 11:24am and you’ve torn your closet apart looking for your black wool cardigan (again). You’ve got a socially distanced coffee date with your cousin who you haven’t seen in months.
You’ve been anticipating this joyous reunion all week, but right now you’re overcome with frustration because you’re going to be late.
Because you can never find what you’re looking for in your closet!
Simply put, decluttering is the most powerful way to create tangible change in your life.
Going through the process of clearing clutter allows you to match your living space to your intentions from the foundational steps of the 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.
If you need help staying on track and seeing results when you clear clutter, check out my 4-step Clear Your Life Method. Having a repeatable process to follow as you dig through your cupboards and closets will help you clear with less frustration.
I’ve also got room by room small projects blogs to support you:
- Kitchen – make room to enjoy your meals
- Bathroom – getting ready in the morning will be a breeze
- Office – clear room for your 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.
2. Clear Your Mental Clutter
It’s said that we have anywhere between 12,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day. It’s no wonder we’re often exhausted by the time our heads hit our pillows at night.
Getting swept up in these thoughts stands between you and the intentional life you’re building.
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)
- 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
3. Clear Your Finances
When you spend more than you make and carry consumer debt, especially on high interest credit cards, you hold yourself back from intentional finances.
But to begin, 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 guilt from your past, it’s time to get to work.
Schedule 1-3 hours to sit down and get super clear on your finances. As a highly tactile person, I do this and write pen to paper. But may prefer to create a spreadsheet on your computer instead.
Go through your accounts and track your income, expenses and non-essential spending for the past year.
If you have multiple debts, consider the snowball method Dave Ramsey teaches.
Then, take control of your finances by educating yourself. Here are a few recommendations to get your started:
- Paula Pant of Afford Anything- create sustainable wealth on your terms
- Dave Ramsey – eliminate debt + take control of your money
- The Financial Diet – a comprehensive and accessible site dedicated to healthy finances
Next, get clear on where you spend your money. This is a core factor in living your life with intention.
Go back to the values you determined and use this as an outline to change 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 these companies 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.
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.
1. Stick to Better Habits
Intentional living isn’t a one and done exercise. Your ability to consistently live with intention means showing up every day and creating sustainable habits to support your intentional life.
Examples of Supportive Daily Habits:
- 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
2. Be of Service
An intentional life doesn’t only affect you, but lifts others up as well. 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.
Now, grab your pen and notebook and reflect 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?
It’s a win-win.
AN INTENTIONAL LIFE CAN BE YOURS
Remember that version of you that was shopping out of boredom at the beginning of this post?
She’s ready for more.
More physical space, mental clarity and purpose.
She’s ready to show up fully in her life and make powerful decisions that benefit not only her, but the larger community too.
Don’t let another aimless day go by.
Comment below with a step you’re ready to take in your intentional living journey!