The phrase being intentional often comes up in relation to personal development. It is associated with living purposefully and goes far deeper than just trying to achieve a specific aim or goal. Living intentionally is thought to be empowering and allows us to shape and change our lives for the better.
With intentions, it can be very difficult to not get caught up with the outcome. The nature of the world we live in can also make living intentionally very challenging. But being more intentional has the power to change your mindset and allows for positivity and purpose to flow through your whole being, words, and actions.
In this article, I will focus on the meaning of being intentional, the benefits and some of its barriers, as well as 7 tips that will help you be a little bit more intentional in life.
- What does being intentional mean?
- What are the benefits of being intentional?
- What can hold you back from living more intentionally?
- 5 ways to be more intentional in life
- Wrapping up
What does being intentional mean?
An intention is defined as ‘something that you want and plan to do…’.
It can be described as a kind of lifestyle where we actively define our priorities and seek to fulfill them. Put simply, we are taking the time to focus on what is important in our lives and then bringing our attention, focus, and commitment to work on that.
When I first looked into this idea of being more intentional, I presumed that intentions were the same thing as creating goals. Both definitions involve setting aims and focusing on areas to better our lives.
But they are in fact different things. Intentions are grounded in the present moment, lived each day, and rooted in your true values and core beliefs. whereas goals tend to be based on the future.
Unlike goals, intentions don’t involve a specific destination or achievement, and they are very much focused on the journey rather than the destination.
Some examples of intentions could be:
- I intend to make someone happy today.
- I intend to be more mindful today.
Whichever way we look at it, being more intentional ultimately means living with more purpose and carrying out more values-based actions.
What are the benefits of being intentional?
One obvious benefit of being intentional is the fact that we are trying to live authentically. Intentions also tend to be focused on the relationship with yourself rather than external achievements. This makes your daily actions so much more meaningful and in turn, has the power to make you feel happier.
Research supports this theory, showing that daily value-based actions reduced stress and increased wellbeing. A further study found that value-based actions increased participants’ resilience to stressful life events.
When we are intentional in life, it means we are also:
- Creating a new life path.
- Living in the present.
- Taking more control of our lives.
- Creating a more positive mindset.
Psychologist Peter Gollwitzer has completed a lot of research surrounding the concept of implementation intentions. Studies have shown these can be effective in changing our behaviors in order to achieve goals.
What can hold you back from living more intentionally?
It is easy to talk about living intentionally, but it isn’t always an easy thing to do. And it takes a certain amount of practice and dedication.
Here are a few things that may be stopping you from living a more intention focused way of living:
- You find it difficult to commit to things.
- You are not in tune with your true values and core beliefs.
- You live a hectic life and are not focusing on your own needs.
- You feel unworthy of putting yourself first.
- Your past experiences/environments no longer align with your values now which leaves you feeling confused.
Does any of that sound familiar?
Sometimes, we can also get lost and lose our sense of direction with our intentions along the way. But it is always easy to get back on track. And just having an awareness of our own barriers can be useful in our pursuit of a more intentional life.
It takes some work, and like any form of self-improvement, it isn’t a quick and easy process. But one which is certainly worth it in the long run.
5 ways to be more intentional in life
Read on to find some ways to help you live more intentionally so you can start receiving all those lovely benefits!
1. Understand your values and beliefs
Taking the time to understand your values and beliefs is always an important first step to being more intentional.
Start by asking yourself some honest questions:
- What is most important to me in my life?
- What brings me joy, fulfillment, and contentment?
- What does the perfect day look like?
Once you really know these answers, you can get an idea of what is important to you, so you can set the right intentions.
2. Try and set some intentions regularly
Everyone is different and the thought of setting an intention every day (especially at the beginning) may feel like too much. Instead, start with whatever works well for you.
You may start with setting an intention at the beginning of the week, or you may prefer to set one every day. As you get used to the process, you will soon get into the habit of setting one regularly.
3. Start to infuse intentionality into your everyday life
We are all guilty of doing too much at once. But instead of scrambling around doing as many things as possible, try and commit to where you are and do one thing. This allows you to do everything with more meaning.
When you are carrying out an activity during the day – try and use your senses to fully immerse yourself into the environment. Connect to the reasons why you are doing them, for example:
I am cooking dinner today because I want to create a lovely, nourishing meal for my family.
This forces you to give more purpose to your actions instead of running through your to-do list on autopilot.
4. Make time for yourself
More often than not, we are doing things for others, particularly when we get older and encounter more and more responsibilities.
But keep in mind that being more intentional means doing the things you love doing and that make you happy. Try and commit to the things you enjoy now and somehow balance them with the necessary tasks of the day.
If you are constantly on the go and rushing through everything, it can make living intentionally incredibly challenging. Make sure you also give yourself time to process and practice self-care.
At the end of each day, you could also take time to reflect on how you have tried to create a sense of purpose that day. Go back to your core values and think about any actions you have undertaken which support the values that matter to you.
5. Be aware of limiting beliefs
All of us carry some sort of beliefs about ourselves that are negative, unhelpful, and can hold us back. As difficult as it is, you should try and let go of these limiting beliefs.
When you feel affected by limiting beliefs, you can always take some deep breaths, while trying to connect and focus on your intentions once again and why you are doing them.
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Being more intentional in life can have a profound impact on our lives. And while we are often pulled in different directions throughout the day, living intentionally gives us some much-needed clarity and focus in our lives. Intentional living can also improve our well-being, increase our resilience to stress and help us to achieve our longer-term goals.
Do you find it hard to live a life with intentions? What's your favorite takeaway from this article? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!