A 3-step guide to intentional living

Intentional Living: A 3-Step Introduction

When life gives you road rash, try intentional living.

Have you ever laid down at night and wondered where the day went? Or what you did? 

Do you ever wonder when exactly it was that life got away from you? 

That’s the funny thing about life, it goes on. And sometimes it goes so fast that it feels like you are barely keeping up.

When my husband was a kid, he decided to play a fun game one day with one of the neighborhood kids. The other kid would tie a rope to his bike and start pedaling. My husband would tie himself to the other end of the rope and run along with the bike, as fast as he could.

It went about as well as you’d expect (not well). Turns out, he couldn’t keep up with the bike (who could have guessed!). He tripped over his feet and ended up getting dragged along the road behind the bike. Ouch.

Life is like that bike. And you are that poor kid, screaming for dear life, skin scraping off against the pavement, and wondering how the hell you let yourself get in this situation in the first place.

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It is time to cut that rope and take back control of your own life. You don’t have to continue doing something that is not working for you. You don’t have to live in any way that you don’t want.

Be deliberate about the way you choose to spend your time and your energy – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – all of it. 

Choose an intentional life.

What is Intentional Living

“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.” – Richie Norton

Intentional living is all about choices. YOUR choices. Your endless choices that lump together into a life.

It’s about being deliberate with your choices and making peace with the things that you can not control. 

When you are living intentionally you…

…live according to your values. 

…look past the constraints of your past or of the culture that you live in. 

…don’t do things just because they are easy or because it’s what other people are doing. 

How to Live an Intentional Life: 3 Guidelines

Anyone can start an intentional life. There is no end goal to be reached and there’s nothing to figure out before you start. It does get easier with practice, like most things, but an intentional life is made choice by choice. 

There is ONE requirement to begin.

You have to start where you are. 

Not that you have a choice, right? But it’s important to meet yourself honestly in this moment of your life. Not where you were 3 months ago, not where you would like to be 3 months from now.

Just you, as you are, where you are, HERE.

Now you can start. Here are the 3 guidelines for living an intentional life:

  1. Simplify
  2. Organize
  3. Pay attention

Simplify

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” Joshua Becker

The first guideline is simplify simplify simplify. You probably already know what you like and don’t like about your life right now. You can let go of anything that isn’t working for you – things, ideas, expectations, anything. Give yourself permission to only keep the things that you really want.

There will always be a million demands on your time, energy, and attention. Learn to say no. You have to be a determined gatekeeper! Your life depends on it.

The process of simplifying is really about choosing what you want and letting the rest go. Over and over again. 

Organize

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin

The second guideline is to organize. Even after all that focus on simplifying, you may have noticed that not everything can be tossed out. There are going to be some things that you don’t really want to do, but that still have to be taken care of: cleaning, cooking, car maintenance, bills, etc. And these things tend to get out of hand reeeeally fast (especially when we don’t want to do them) and start eating up all of our time and energy. 

You are in charge; your tasks are not in charge of you! Get them under control. And that doesn’t mean that you have to set up a crazy specific schedule or point-by-point system for everything (unless that sort of thing works for you), but you need to have at least some basic level of planning and organization because otherwise, those basic obligations are going to trample all over the rest of your life. 

The point of organizing the irritating necessities of life is to get them segmented off and out of the way so that you have time and energy to focus on what really matters to you. You only have so many hours each day for your use. Spend them wisely.

Pay Attention

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.” – Dalai Lama

All this work simplifying and organizing is great, but what then? It’s easy to get so focused on your future, or so caught up in your mindless tasks that you forget to actually live. Which brings us to the third guideline: pay attention. 

Be mindful, be present. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. All it really comes down to is this: 

Pay attention to your life. 

Squeeze all the value out of the moments that are worth squeezing and breathe through the ones that last too long.

Relax into your life. Where are you rushing off to? Planning is well and good, but you do actually have to live at some point.

Learning to pay attention to your life is a lifelong task. Sometimes your attention will drift off because you have a million things going on and you’re working really hard to make one of your big hairy goals become a reality. It’s ok. 

Right now, be present. 

In Conclusion:

Whenever you start to feel like life is giving you road rash, come back to the 3 guidelines of intentional living:

  1. Simplify
  2. Organize
  3. Pay attention

What’s the biggest obstacle standing between you and an intentional life? Tell me in the comments below!

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