How to live with more intention
I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a while, because when I think of what it means to be ‘wholehearted’ – intentional living is a big part of this!
However, I know intentional living is a bit of a meaningless phrase sometimes. I don’t think many of us wake up thinking ‘gosh I must be more intentional today!’
What we do tend to think are things like, ‘I need to get my shit together’, ‘I’m fed up of feeling knackered all the time’, ‘I feel like I’m living on a hamster wheel’. Or maybe even, ‘I’m not that happy’.
These are some of the thoughts I’ve had where intentional living was the answer that helped ‘fixed’ those things.
For me it’s about taking command of what your life looks like and the direction it’s going in. Perhaps it’s easier to think of the difference between living by default v living by design.
When I live by default my diet isn’t as good as it could be, I just react to everything rather than be proactive, I feel directionless, I spend too much and I feel really tired.
When I’m able to put just a couple of things in place in my life to create more intention, so much changes for the better.
These are a couple of practices that really help me live more intentionally:
Having a routine
As I’ll talk about in a moment, being intentional all the time uses up a lot of mental energy. When our mental load is already huge, it makes it even more likely that we’ll live by default. Having good routines in place help you ‘hack’ your default. When you find a routine that works and flows with your life it requires a lot less effort. The more you do it, the less effort it requires, so getting at least a good morning and evening routine down can make a huge difference. I also try and have a Sunday routine of planning meals and getting laundry done that is also really helpful for getting on top of the week before it starts!
A routine doesn’t have to be complicated, it can just include a few key things that help you feel good or make the day flow better. Start by bullet pointing out your most ideal and realistic routine then you have an idea of how you’d like it to flow, like this:
- Get up
- Breakfast + coffee
- Get showered and dressed
- 5 minutes journalling / days to do list
- Get kids ready
- Leave the house
I’ve always been a planner, I don’t know how I’d function without it! But planning only works if it works for you – that’s why a lot of planners and systems haven’t worked for me until I created my own system based on what I needed to plan for to make my life feel better.
I like to plan at the start of a new month and more widely each quarter when the seasons shift – this is another great tip because how we feel and what we have going on should shift and flow with the season outside.
By giving myself time to plan I can listen to myself and what I need to feel good and then figure out a way to include that in my life.
Questions I often ask myself are:
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What needs to change?
Something that came up for me this month was the need to reduce my mental load in new ways so I was able to think of ways to implement changes to support that.
I also think about activities I’d really like to do this month or season and then plan them in, as well as thinking ahead to events, parties, birthdays, school stuff that has a ‘job’ attached to it like buying a gift and card so those things are planned for and not just panicked about on the day they happen! (which is default for me!)
Planning doesn’t have to be this big deal, it can be as simple as sitting with a notebook and a cuppa for 30 minutes or as elaborate as spending a day with a journal, candles and tarot cards – I’ve done and do both depending on how I feel. The important thing is to have this way of checking in with yourself on a regular basis.
Having a vision
Finally, another area that really helps me live more intentionally is having a ‘vision’ for how I’d like my life to look and feel. I know what my version of success looks like, how I’d ideally like to spend my days and a rough idea of what I’m aiming for in my future. I love creating a secret board on Pinterest to inspire this.
When I reflect on this vision when I’m planning each month it helps me take small tiny steps in the right direction, or to tweak something about how I’m living day to day to bring it more in line with my vision. For example, my vision includes regular yoga so this month I bought a pregnancy class pass and challenged myself to get to class most weekends!
Mental load + brain bandwidth
Something I’ve struggled with lately and something I’m seeing more and more women talking about is our mental load. In the past I’ve often talked about our brain bandwidth (a big topic in my Mindset Makeover Course) because we need to have some spare mental energy available to do some of these things and live more intentionally.
Finding more mental energy is a post in itself, and the points above like routines and planning definitely help, but what I’ve found helpful is starting by looking at the things that happen each week that annoy me. This included multiple trips to the supermarket because I hadn’t planned out meals very well so I started doing online grocery shopping and planned out some meals and a ‘strategy’ for having ingredients in that can easily be made into different meals.
Just that one thing has freed up so much mental space for me!
One of the ways you could negatively approach intentional living is by getting too hung up on the ‘control’ element. None of us can control exactly what our lives look like – we all have a multitude of factors that play into it.
The way I like to think of it is, we can’t choose the clay we’re given but we can choose how we mould it.
I guess that’s why I quite like the term lifestyle design even if it does sound a bit wankerish!
I’d love to know your take on intentional living. Is this a term you’ve heard before? Do you think you’d benefit from it? Let me know in the comments!
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Laura Agar Wilson is a wellbeing coach and business mentor who helps overwhelmed women live a life of more intention via planning, routines and seasonal living.
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