Nowadays, we live in a world where we are bombarded with responsibilities, relationships, purchases, possessions, and physical and mental clutter. There’s so much noise and chaos around us that our minds and bodies are in a constant state of overdrive and stress. As a result, with each passing day, instead of doing what you want to do, you constantly find yourself doing what you have to do just get through it. Intentional living entails creating a life that is consistent with your sincerely held fundamental beliefs. It is a process, not a destination. The world continually encourages you to overcomplicate your life and add more and more, yet focusing on your fundamental principles allows you to simplify.
You may concentrate on what is most important to you. You permit yourself to ignore the noise. You’re no longer afraid of losing out because you already have all you need when you live following your beliefs.
In this guide, you will find some tips and advice to start living a simpler and intentional life.
What is Intentional Living?
Intentional living is all about active-decision making in your life. If you are living intentionally, you are taking risks, being present, striving for balance, and pushing yourself to improve as often as possible. Unfortunately, people who find themselves in ruts or feeling stuck are usually the victims of living an unintentional life, typically marked by sitting back and waiting for life to unfold without being an active participant. Don’t stress – we all fall into those easy traps by not participating fully in our lives – but it’s easy to get out of that habit by taking a few risks to change things up. Start by asking yourself the question, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
Answers may range from quitting your job to moving to a new country to chasing a childhood dream. From there, think of easy, actionable steps to take to move closer to that goal. It can be daunting to move too quickly – going from a laid-back life stance to a fully active participant can create whiplash. Instead, take it day by day. Small daily changes compound and leave too big yet calculated life risks. The more you actively engage in your life goals, the more intentional you’ll be. You’ll also see other positive side effects such as increased self-confidence, more motivation and energy, and a surge of hope and optimism. With each active decision you make, you force yourself to be mindful and present in your own life.
Try not to be discouraged by roadblocks or setbacks. No one who lives an intentional life does so without some resistance. The point of living intentionally is to engage your mind in active trouble-shooting so you can constantly produce creative strategies to keep moving forward. And after all, intentional living is the main reason for forward trajectory in life. So keep going – you’ve got this.
-Kali Rogers from Blush Life Coaching
What does it mean to live your life with intention? How can I know if it is something for me?
In my view, living our lives with intention means reconnecting with our innate power to shape and design our lives.
Clearly, we can’t control every aspect of life, but by choosing to be more intentional, we can make small changes that lead to subtle positive shifts, which can compound over time.
For example, if we choose to be more intentional about taking care of our energy, our minds will naturally look for ways to improve our health and emotional wellbeing. Perhaps this would look like figuring out the sleep patterns that work best for us or prioritizing pockets of calm throughout the day.
It’s rarely impossible to make the changes that will bring us better results – it’s just that we forget how much power and influence we do have, even if it’s just for the small changes.
By becoming more intentional, we naturally play around with new ideas and experiment with new options, and the ripple effects of these can spark more and more positive results. Maybe it’s my design background, but I like to view intentional living as a kind of Life Design project, where we are both the valued client and the expert designer.
Approaching life with an intention to solve challenges (as designers do) is an empowering mindset, which tends to yield surprising and beneficial results. To discover if this approach will work for you, just play around with the idea of being the designer of your life. Begin with one aspect where you feel you do have some power and freedom to make changes. Then put your solution-seeking mind to work by simply posing questions like; I wonder what a simple improvement could be….? Or, what small change could I make that would be more aligned with the way I want to live?
Or, if you’d like to harness the power that lives within intention itself, you can simply decide that you intend to make some improvements – and see what ideas come up. It’s amazing how well our creative minds get to work – once we give them some positive direction!
Danielle has more tips for intentional living over on her creativity blog.
-Danielle Raine from Danielle Raine Support for Creative Living
What does it mean to live a simpler life?
To live a simpler life means a life of beauty, presence, and purpose, having the time and space to create the details of the life you want. Happiness comes from enjoying the moments and using what we have, but re-arranging it. Slowing down to set a beautiful table and turn on music, puttering, taking care of our garden.
The struggle to work more, for more money, to buy more stuff, which takes time to take care of, leaves us with less time and room to make art out of our lives. But, on the other hand, if we pare down what we own and what we do, we have time to maintain and beautify, enhance, and make our mark.
A simpler life is being patient and letting things grow as they will grow. Allowing silence and waiting. Going deeper into reading or conversations or spirituality rather than skimming the bullet points. It is taking time to pause and reflect before rushing into the next thing.
Simpler living requires letting go of people-pleasing and understanding what is most important to you and your family so you can release what you don’t need. It means living counter-cultural to a society that says more is best and always be productive.
If we keep our lives too full, then we can’t accept invitations to something unusual or expand our group of friends. Our lives become small and rigid to keep in the confines of the schedule. When we are bound by too much stuff and too many obligations, we lose our chance to be spontaneous. We no longer wander.
We can create our own simpler and more meaningful life by curating what’s important, having less, and gracefully taking care of the moments of our lives.
-Beth Dargis from My Simple Life
5 Tips to find your purpose in life
1) Live a Value-Driven Life
A good starting point for living a meaningful life is your values. What values are important to you? Some popular values include:
- Relationships & Connections
Take inventory of your daily life and compare them to your core values. Is what you’re doing aligned with what’s important to you? With each action you take moving forward, ask yourself, “Does this align with my values? Is this something that a person with this value would do?”
2) Explore the Things You Love To Do
We are all born with a deep and meaningful purpose that we have to discover. Your purpose is not something you need to make up; it’s already there. You have to uncover it in order to create the life you want. You may ask yourself, “What is my purpose in life?” You can begin to discover your passion or your purpose by exploring two things:
- What do you love to do?
- What comes easily to you?
Of course, it takes work to develop your talents – even the most gifted artist still has to practice, but it should feel natural.
3) Focus on what you have
Developing an abundance mindset is like opening your eyes to life: You will see beauty and goodness all around you. With this new perspective, your purpose in life becomes much clearer. When we focus on what we have, fear disappears, and abundance appears. You’ll stop living in fear that you’re wasting your life and begin to attract positivity and joy.
4) Decide Where You Want to Go
Use your inner compass to clarify your vision and figure out where you want to go. Then, lock in your destination through goal setting, affirmations, and visualization, and start taking inspired action steps that will move you in the right direction. With every picture you visualize, you’re “inputting” the destination you want to get to. Every time you express a preference for something, you are expressing an intention.
Once you clarify and then stay focused on your vision (you can do this with a vision board or meditation), the exact steps will keep appearing along the way in the form of internal guidance, creating ideas, and new opportunities.
5) Take time for yourself
“What is my purpose?” is a deep question that takes time and reflection to answer. When you spend all your time running from one commitment to another, you never have time just to sit quietly and reconnect with yourself. Make sure you schedule enough personal time to reduce the noise and demands of the outer world and focus on what you want.
When you feel depleted searching for meaning in life, take a deep breath and center yourself. Take time for self-care, whether that’s going for a long walk in nature or reading a book sitting on the beach. By looking within, you’re able to identify your values – the beliefs you hold most dear as a guiding force in life. You won’t understand how to find your purpose without first taking a step back and relaxing.
Finding your Purpose will not happen overnight – The modern age we live in is all about instant gratification. Realizing that finding a purpose in life takes time can help you avoid getting frustrated during this process. Taking the time to try out new things is the only way to find a passion. My motivation has never been the amount of money I’ll make or what I’ll be able to buy. I ask myself each day if what I’m doing is building a life and career that I love and which fulfills me, or one that I’ll need a vacation from, or that will adversely affect my health.
-Kiran Singh from Kiran Singh
What is and how to create a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a curated wardrobe featuring a limited amount of clothing and accessories. Depending on the source, a capsule wardrobe typically features anywhere from 25-50 items. Conscious consumers can use their creative skills to restyle clothing and accessorize the garments in the capsule wardrobe to create new outfits and keep their style fresh. This encourages consumers to live a more sustainable lifestyle by valuing what they have and not feeling the need to always keep up with the latest fast fashion trends.
Creating a capsule wardrobe is a unique experience for each individual as our styles all vary. When first starting, I think it’s great to focus on creating a capsule wardrobe for one season, such as a fall or winter capsule wardrobe. Creating a capsule wardrobe year-round can seem like a daunting task.
The first step is to evaluate what is already in your closet; wearing what you have is one of the most sustainable things we can do. What do you wear regularly? What can you sell to secondhand shops? While going through the clothes in your closet, I think it’s important to think about the color scheme of your capsule wardrobe. Consider picking a majority of items that have neutral colors so that you can create a wide range of outfits from them. Think blue jeans, chinos, basic white t-shirts, a jean jacket, a little black dress, and other items you regularly wear. Once you choose some neutral items to include in your capsule wardrobe, you can add pops of color with jackets, jewelry, handbags, ties, and other accessories. Accessories are a great place to highlight your personality within the capsule wardrobe.
-Emily Waddell, Founder of The Honest Consumer
What’s the difference between minimalist and frugal living?
Some people wonder, “What is the difference between being a minimalist and being a frugal person?” The answer – in short – is “priorities.”
Minimalism is about intentionally identifying and prioritizing the things that matter the most and then mindfully removing anything that might distract from these things. For example, the minimalist might decide that having free time is highly important. As a result, he will avoid acquiring items that require significant time and energy to maintain. Or, a minimalist might love cooking and value having a kitchen that is easy to work in. This may translate into owning fewer kitchen gadgets so that it is easy to access the most critical and frequently used ones. Minimalists are not unwilling to spend money; they simply focus their money (and time) on what they believe will enhance their desired lifestyle.
In contrast, a frugal person is primarily focused on limiting financial outlay. Living frugally translates into spending money only on those items that are truly necessary. For instance, a frugal person might also highly enjoy cooking but will limit the number of kitchen items she buys because she does not want (or cannot afford) to spend the necessary money to acquire them. Frugal people are motivated by good deals, sales, and free options. Often, they are willing to make compromises and live with less to limit expenditures.
This is not to say that one approach is better than the other, only that their primary focus differs.
Additionally, there may be some overlap between the two. For example, the minimalist and the frugal person may choose not to own a sailboat, but for different reasons: the minimalist because boat ownership requires time and energy that he would instead invest elsewhere, and the frugal person because a boat costs too much to buy, dock, and care for. In both cases, there is an intentional boundary on belongings being set; they are simply being set to achieve varying end goals.
-Seana Turner from The Seana Method | Freedom Through Organization
Questions to answer to find purpose/intention in your life
- When people ask me how to find purpose in life, I know that what they are really asking is how they can spend their time meaningful. Clues to your mission can be found by asking yourself questions like:
- What comes naturally to you?
- If time and money were no issue and all was and would work in your favor, how would you spend your time?
- What organizations and types of people do you feel pulled towards or have a heart for?
- What do you love to do that can make you stay up too late and lose track of time?
- If you weren’t afraid, what would you be doing?
- What did you think you would be when you were a kid, a teen, and a young adult? So often, clues to purpose are in our childhood dreams.
Trying new things, taking a chance, taking training, and volunteering are all ways to help you find a purposeful way to live, love, and create impact.
-Gretchen Hydo, Master Certified Coach from GretchenHydo.com
How to set your top priorities in life to start living with intention?
The starting point is to understand your core values, or as it is often put, your why.
What are the values that are truly and profoundly important to you? Values that you’re just not prepared to compromise no matter what the circumstances. Maybe you would rather die than see any harm come to your family? In which case, family is a core value. Perhaps you would rather go bankrupt than rip off your employer or a friend, in which case integrity and honesty are incredibly important to you. Or it could be that you don’t allow anything or anybody to interfere with your meditation routine because peace of mind is non-negotiable for you.
You want to come up with at least 3, but ideally 5 or more, core values and then write them down. Our conscious mind is very energy hungry. As such, it has developed over millennia to be highly energy efficient. It does this by allowing us to do many things without really needing to engage the conscious thought process, thus burning valuable fuel. Brushing our teeth, emptying the dishwasher, and even driving a car requires little conscious effort because they are habitual behaviors. However, that is the antithesis of intentional living.
Intentional living requires we be aware (as much as we can) of our thoughts, our feelings, and ultimately, our actions. Frequently our actions are automatic responses to our thoughts and feelings, but we can work back the opposite way for a more intentional life.
Think about all the things you want to get done tomorrow and ask yourself if everything aligns with your core values. And then do the same with your life goals. Are they all in alignment?
Do not fudge or compromise on this because the moment you drop out of alignment with your values is the moment you stop living an intentional life.
-Tim from Coach The Life Coach
How can manifestations help us live a more Intentional Life?
Do you want to know the secret to manifesting your best life to your fullest potential? The key is in intentional living. You have to take action and create change for your dreams and wishes to come true.
Manifestation and intentional living go hand-in-hand for a life of happiness and abundance.
That’s where intentional living comes into play! Intentional living means being mindful of every action and thought to align with our goals for ourselves. Everything falls into place when we are intentional with our actions, thoughts, words, and feelings because all aspects of life are interconnected. And when things fall into place – magic happens!
Manifestation is the process of making thoughts and desires come into form through total alignment. It’s about taking what you want, feeling it in your heart, and then bringing it into reality. But you can’t just go through the motions; you have to do it with full intention and action.
You can manifest anything from a new job to a more fulfilling relationship with yourself or others. It involves taking action and being persistent to make our dreams come true. Intentional living is about creating a lifestyle that aligns with who we are, what we believe, and how we want to feel daily. This can be done by setting intentions every day and following through with them, practicing self-care, having meaningful relationships, and pursuing goals that align with our values. Living intentionally will help manifest all of your desires into reality!
3 steps to a more intentional life:
- Start with the end in mind: Picture where exactly you want to be, what your perfect life looks like. This will help clarify what needs to change or shift for this vision to come true.
- Take small & specific actions towards achieving this goal: Write down how many hours per day/week you’re willing to dedicate and then divide it into tasks that need completing on an hourly basis such as daily affirmations, reading motivational books, doing yoga, etc.
- Focus on being more mindful throughout each day
“Living a life without intention is like living in the dark. It’s hard to see, it’s difficult to navigate, and you can’t really be fully present in your own life.”
-Steph Sisler from Steph Social
Tips to simplify your schedule & why it’s important
Time is a finite resource. It’s not something you can manufacture more of, so it’s important to consider how you spend your time. As Annie Dillard quote says, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Your time matters, and you should treat it as such. It should be a reflection of your priorities and values. No one gets to the end of their life and wishes they’d spent more time working.
Simplifying your schedule allows you to create more space for the things that matter most to you. Having more downtime provides for greater flexibility, spontaneity, and more rest. In addition, kids and adults alike are less stressed and anxious when they aren’t overscheduled.
Here are some tips to simplify your schedule.
- Re-evaluate your commitments
What are you doing that you don’t need to be doing? Where can you cut back, and what can you eliminate?
- Consider the why
Think about why you are doing what you’re doing. When you consider that every yes to something means a no to something else, it helps to see your schedule differently.
- Cut back where possible
Allow for margin. Just because you don’t have something scheduled doesn’t mean you need to fill that space or that you should feel obligated to say yes. A lot of life happens in the in-between when there are no plans.
- Wait to say yes
If your immediate reaction is usually to say yes, this one is especially important. Slow your response. Take time to think about it. Consider how the commitment would impact your schedule and what you’d gain and lose by saying yes.
Using these tips to simplify your schedule, you can reclaim your time to spend more of it on what matters most.
-Julianna from The Simplicity Habit
5 Key principles/foundations for Intentional Living
I truly believe you can cultivate happiness and live a life that is fulfilling. By taking intentional and proactive action, you can nurture and grow your happiness and maintain it. When you get intentional about your life, you consciously focus on what is actually important, and you make space and time for the things you prioritize. In my Intentional Happiness Circle (a year-long program to live intentionally), we cover these 5 key principles for Intentional Living.
To achieve the life you want, it is necessary to know what you want, what is important to you, and be clear on the life you wish to lead. Spend time thinking about what it is you really want, who with and where. What would a typical ideal day look like. I encourage my clients to visualize their future selves. The more clarity you have, the better.
Simplifying your life is crucial to leading an intentional life. Decluttering your physical space, your digital space, and how you spend your time is fundamental in freeing up time and space to fulfill your potential and feel truly happy. And it feels great when you reduce and organize your life.
What takes our dreams and makes them a reality? Setting realistic and attainable goals. It is important to plan personal growth goals (intrinsic goals) and practical goals ( extrinsic goals). And don’t forget to plan some fun stuff too!
Knowing your values and aligning your goals with them will lead to more fulfillment and happiness.
Life feels really busy, and it can be challenging to create the physical space or the headspace to focus on what is important. Use a calendar to plan fixed appointments such as work, school run, exercise, health appointments, and sleep. You can then see all the time you have left. Block off time for what you have identified as important to you. It is essential that you elevate all that is important to you and prioritize them as much as your fixed commitments.
-Julie Leonard from Julie Leonard Life Coach
Tips for creating a morning ritual and start your day with a purpose
Do you do your morning ritual on purpose or by default? Most of us tend to get into at least some routine and do the same things every morning. Are you conscious or on autopilot? A ritual is special – it adds meaning to your day. A ritual is something you do regularly that has a point, an intention. It doesn’t matter what’s included, as long as it sets the tone for your day. Here are some suggestions for different components you might include:
Movement: An intense boot camp class, yoga, or even a dance party in your living room. Find what works for you and gives you the kind of energy you need.
Journaling: Putting pen to paper is so powerful. Try journaling as a way to clear your mind and connect with your inner wisdom.
Nature: Exercise outdoors, walk barefoot on the beach, or just breathe some fresh air. Get grounded.
Stillness: Find stillness in prayer, meditation, or simply breathing mindfully for a few minutes.
Mindfulness: Create a gratitude practice, set an intention for the day, say affirmations, or review your goals. Start the day in a conscious way, connecting to what’s most important to you.
Strategy: Instead of going through your day in reaction mode, have a strategy. You’ll be more effective and focused if you know what you plan to do and why.
Read: As in, read something helpful. Not Facebook. Not the news. Read a book on business or a blog that inspires you. Whatever is meaningful and helpful to you.
-Sandra Possing from Sandrapossing.com
Tips to be more assertive and live a happier life
- Know what’s important to you, your values, and your big WHY, and say no to everything else!
- Be willing to disappoint others rather than disappointing yourself by letting other people set the tone and agenda for your day.
- Consider saying no to things you may genuinely want to do, but may not be aligned with your own higher good and the amazing life you are creating!
5 things to consider moving towards a life of simplicity
- Your “why”
When you’re making any big change in your life, it’s important to know exactly why you’re making the change and what you want to achieve. So get clear about what your simplifying goals are. As well as your vision for your simplified home and life.
Not only does a clear “why” help keep you focused as you make the changes in your life. But it’s also a great way to rekindle your motivation whenever you need a little boost to keep going!
- Your time frame
Simplifying your home and your life usually takes a fair amount of time. Set realistic expectations and time frames to reach your simplifying goals to avoid burning yourself out.
- Know what simplifying means to you
We each have unique goals, preferences, and visions when it comes to simplifying. Get clear about what you want your home and life to look like. Make sure you’re focusing on your own goals and what works for you, not what works for someone else.
- Identify habits you’ll need to re-evaluate
Simplifying isn’t just about decluttering. It’s also about shifting your habits, patterns, routines, and beliefs to help keep your home and life simplified moving forward.
Start paying attention to any beliefs, areas of your life, or current habits you might need to re-evaluate or shift to better support your simplifying goals.
- Know what matters most to you
The purpose of simplifying is removing the clutter, the excess, and the distractions so you can focus more on what matters most to you. To do that, you need to have a clear understanding of what your values and priorities are.
Start paying attention and get really clear about what matters most to you and what you value most, so you can ensure you’re keeping those aspects of your life prioritized as you’re simplifying.
And if you’re looking for more guidance to help you simplify your home from top to bottom, check out Simple Lionheart Life’s complete, step-by-step decluttering guide, Your Clutter-Free Home!
-Melissa Russell from Simple Lionheart Life
Intentional and simple living requires you to pay attention to the choices you make in your life and to make those choices in line with your values. Through conscious decisions, you build a lifestyle that honors your core values. We hope these tips and advice can help you out to start a new chapter in your life.