These blog posts usually start with a story about impulsive purchases, sleep deprivation, overwhelm, blindly following a career path dictated by family or a lightbulb moment of waking up one day and hating life. Well, not this one.
See, I’m a bit of a rebel and I’ve always been good at standing up for myself and doing what I wanted. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always lived intentionally.
I too fell trap in the life on autopilot. It’s easy to go with the flow, take the easy road and never question why or what. Butt living on autopilot is the very opposite of intentional living.
13 ways you can be intentional every day
These are my top tips to turn the autopilot off and take back control of the wheel for a more purposeful and intentional life.
If you want to be more intentional the first step is to slow down, pause. This is so simple, yet so powerful!
By taking a moment you’ll be able to detach yourself from the rat race and reassess. Pausing is the pattern breaker you need to be able to even realise the auto pilot is on. From here you can then go to and make more deliberate choices.
2. Ask yourself why are you doing this
A big part of living intentionally is knowing why are we doing the things we do. We must be deliberate with our actions, our time and our energy. We need to question our have-to’s.
Have a good look at your daily to do’s and ask yourself why are you doing these things. Why do you feel like you have to do these things?
Is it because someone told you so? Because you don’t want to let someone down? Is it because you’ve always done it and never stopped to question it? Or is it because you believe that by doing these things you’ll create a better future for yourself? Because these things bring you joy, meaning and purpose? Because you believe that by doing this you’ll close the gap between where you are and where you want to be?
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some things we all have to do no matter how much we dislike them and even though they’re not getting us any closer to a fulfilling life. We all have to pay our taxes or we face serious trouble. But the things we really have to do are fewer than what we might realise.
I invite you to pause, have a good look at your to-dos and ask yourself – Why am I doing this?
3. Say no
Most people find it hard to say no. We’re social and mostly agreeable creature who want to be liked and saying no goes against it. And that’s a problem.
While saying yes will make you very likeable and sometimes it will also make you feel good, saying yes all the time can work against you.
Every time you say yes to something, you have to say no to something else.
A big part of being intentional is to take your destiny into your own hands by designing life just as you want it. That means you need to get intentional about your future and start working on your own dreams. We all have limited amounts of time, energy and focus and we need allocate them wisely.
So next time before you say yes, ask yourself why.
4. Practice mindfulness
Ever lied down to bed and realised you don’t even remember what you had for lunch? Or realised you drove home on complete auto pilot and are not even sure of the path you took?
Living intentionally is not just about creating a future and life we love, it’s also about enjoying the ride. It’s about the little things that make everyday life special. While creating an intentional future we must remember to enjoy the now.
Practicing mindfulness and intentionally grounding ourselves is a great way to enjoy the present moment.
5. Be grateful
When we appreciate what we have we instantly become happier and more fulfilled. Instead of focussing on what’s missing and what’s wrong, try appreciating the many things that you have and what’s right.
This small shift in your mindset can be a big catalyst for change.
Every day pause for a moment and list 3- 5 things you are grateful for. Note that I say things for a lack of a better word; this could be people, feelings, experiences, thoughts, actions and so much more. If you’re only starting out, grateful might be a big and heavy word for you and you might struggle to find 3 things you’re grateful for every day. If you’re finding it hard to be grateful for the smell of coffee in the morning, start by appreciating it. I’m sure you can find 3 – 5 things you appreciate on a daily basis.
Try practicing gratefulness (or at least appreciation) every day for two weeks. Then come back and let me know in the comments how that influenced your life.
6. Set goals
Goal setting is an integral part of intentional living. Setting intentional goals that are aligned with our bigger vision can give us a clear direction and helps us focus our efforts.
Getting clear on exactly what you want is the first step in taking the right action towards an intentional life. By setting clear goals and outlining an action plan to achieve your goals you’ll be able to emotionally connect to your vision and take the right action to get there.
7. Be clear on your priorities
Identify your daily, weekly and monthly priorities ahead of time so that you know what’s most important at any given moment and you can focus your actions accordingly. This removes decision fatigue and scrambling to figure it out when under pressure.
8. Plan your days
In order to live an intentional life you need to be intentional with your time. And what better way to achieve that than intentional planning.
Set aside some time every week and every for planning. By planning your days ahead you’ll be better able to use your resources efficiently. Time batching and scheduling tasks will help you use your time efficiently and move closer to reaching your goals.
9. Stay flexible
Planning your days ahead and having a clear action plan is great, but life can be unpredictable. It’s important to stay flexible when it takes us by surprise.
10. Recognise opportunity when it comes
Some call it Law of attraction, others call it manifestation, or frequency illusion and even selective attention bias. It also goes by the name of Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Point being, when we focus on something we tend to see more of it.
When we live intentionally and are clear on our intention we might be better suited to recognise opportunity when it arises. And when opportunity does arise, we must be ready to take it.
Sometimes we think we have it all figured out and a strong plan in place, but being intentional is less about the goals and plans and more about the intention. If a better opportunity arises that goes against our initial plan it would be silly not to take it.
11. Stand up for yourself
Being intentional also means being ready to stand up for yourself and your dreams. Because, frankly, they won’t always align with what other people want from you or what society might expect. It takes courage and it takes consistency.
Set up clear boundaries and reinforce them every day.
12. Make time for reflection
It’s easy to get clear on a vision, to set goals and even stick with the plan to achieve those goals. But what really sets intentional living apart from a passive existence is taking time to reflect. Taking time to question our actions and to analyse our reactions and results.
If we don’t pause and ask why we’re doing what we’re doing, we are doomed to get back on autopilot.
Digging deep and making reflection part of our every day is integral to intentional living. No matter how intentional those goals were when we’ve set them, if we don’t take time to reflect, we risk running with our head through the wall when there’s a door wide open on the other side.