What exactly does it mean to be intentional? How do you live your life in such a way that each decision is made with purpose and meaning?
These were the questions that I have been pondering as I have embarked on a journey to minimalism. As I deconstruct the reasons why I do things and why I specifically purchase items I have been knocked over with a resounding truth. Far too many of my decisions and actions are done haphazardly and impulsively!
Because I want to make sure that I am adjusting these habits and changing them to ones that are more sustainable and easier on my wallet, I have looked up a few ways that I can bring more intention into each space of my life. You can read what I found out in the post below.
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What does it mean to be intentional?
In order to be intentional, you must first have a clear understanding of your purpose and your values. Living with intention means that you see the future in a way that makes you feel fulfilled in your existence. Knowing what the intended results or goals are, allows you to make choices for your actions in the present that will help you visualize results and then work towards achieving them. Be it in your business, health or work, the essence of living an intentional life means that you have determined your goals and understand the purpose that God has for you and you make choices that align with those goals.
Intentional living puts you in a position where you are not only taking control of your decisions but also have the power to choose actions that are relevant to your goals. It is important to first create a layout of what is to be achieved through prayer and bible study – this is the only way to know when you are deviating from the goals.
Why is it important to be intentional?
There is so much activity going on in the life of the average human being every single day. Every day is characterized by choices in every aspect of living. Choices are what determine how the future will be and they are inevitable. Some of these choices are big while others are small and appear insignificant. When we feel thirsty for instance, it is normal for some people to grab a soda while others are make the choice to just drink water. Why? It is the power of choice! The truth is, we do not always think through some of the choices we make.
There are various reasons why you would enroll your children in a public school as opposed to a private institution; fees affordability, proximity to where you live, past history with school management, etc. While some of these reasons are valid and will eventually influence your choice that might not be what is best for your children. The next time you are faced with such a decision to make, try considering all angles, do your research and then weigh the pros and cons versus the end goal intended.
Intentional living is all about isolating certain aspects of life and planning how to best grow in those areas.
How can I be more intentional?
There is actually no formula when it comes to being intentional with your life. The secret lies in leveraging the small actions that in turn translate to the large outcomes. Looking back, intentional individuals report a trail of consistence albeit small actions. Here are suggestions on how to be intentional in specific several different areas of life;
1. Intentional living in your faith
When was the last time you took stock of your relationship with God. Have you taken account of how often the word of God is the first place you go when you need advice or prayer is the first step when you feel lonely. Because our purpose comes from God, then it would make sense that the first place we should place our intentionality should come in the form of our faith.
Being intentional with your faith and your relationship with God means focusing on activities that can help you grow in your faith. This could be prayer, bible study, minding your language, breaking bad habits that lead to sin, or simply serving more.
Whatever growing your faith walk looks like in action, being intentional requires that you pray about those steps and then walk in obedience.
2. Being intentional in your marriage
A working marriage requires input from both partners. It is a full-time commitment to be proactive even when your spouse is not. Being intentional in marriage means owning up to your shortcomings, reflecting on issues that get out of hand and adjusting your attitude to areas that require your attention. While compatibility is often cited as the main ingredient to a successful marriage, being intentional carries the day. Partners must be intentional in the manner in which they communicate and relate to one another.
Watching a football game with your husband even if you have no interest in football goes a long way to foster friendship and commitment. The same applies to accompanying your wife to the launch of her beauty products line without a clue of how specific products are supposed to be used.
For many people, marriages fail because they are too busy with the other aspects of their lives. Living intentionally in marriage means creating a routine of spending time together to remain fresh for each other.
3. Being intentional with your children
An intentional parent has a plan of how they will look after their children. Even when such plans do not work entirely, an organized parent knows what to prioritize to offer their children the most out of themselves. With priorities in place, an intentional parent is able to provide basic needs to their children and create ample time to socialize.
For many of us working moms specifically, time for parenting can feel especially limited. We know that the decisions made when our littles are younger will either enrich or steal away the limited time we have raising them. Making the most of the time you do have is key to intentional parenting.
Consider the lessons you teach your child both actively and passively. The things we do like playing games and engaging in our children’s interest is important. Equally important, however, are the things that we teach our children through our actions. This could be things like being intentional in our physical and mental health or praying for our children.
4. Being intentional in your home
Our homes impact not only our bodies but also our minds and hearts. For most people, home is the best place in the world to be and this is not by chance. When you cultivate your home to be a space where people feel safe and accepted, your intentional actions draw people closer to you.
Some simple things you can do in being intentional in your home include decluttering, cleaning regularly, and freshening up the spaces.
5. Being intentional with your appearance
To be intentional with the way you look means consciously assessing the impression you will make by way of clothes choice. This aspect of being intentional calls for careful considerations not only of the perception you give to people but also of your comfort in any particular clothing choice. Are you comfortable putting on that pair of shoes?
In addition to what people will think of you, intentional dressing takes into account your core values. There are tons of great styles that come along, but staying stylish should never get in the way of what you believe in.
6. Being intentional with your time
It has been emphasized in school, places of worship and also at work: be punctual and complete your duties with speed. Well, it is great to be at the right place at the right time but what about meaning? To be intentional with time is to focus more on what has been achieved versus how much time was spent. Instead of rushing to complete a handful of useless tasks within the shortest time possible, try perfecting one task instead and appreciate the feeling of the achievement. Think quality over quantity.
As you plan your day, we need to be able to allocate adequate time to each one in order not to miss the beauty and the blessing in the things we do. In every moment there is the opportunity to make a difference, whether it is a big difference or just planting a seed. Be a light and choose to be intentional about the time that you have been gifted.
Intentional time management requires discipline which does not happen naturally. For instance, it takes time to condition your mind that your goal of purchasing a home or passing well to get a scholarship will only happen if you take up extra duties at work and increase study time respectively.
7. Be intentional with your Parents
When people leave their parents’ house to begin life on their own, some forget that they have left behind people that require care and attention. Being intentional with your parents does not mean stopping by their house every day from work (do it by all means if you can manage the schedule).
It is important to consider that parents can at times experience changes in life when you leave home. Their lives grow and evolve as they transition from active parents of children in the home to empty nesters. Being intentional with your parents requires you to take time to get to know who your parents are aside from their role as mom and dad.
Ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. Take the time to do activities that they enjoy. Call them often and let them know you love them. Find out about their past. Once out of the house and on your own, the relationship with your parents can be so beautiful. It can evolve from a space of parental lectures to sweet friendship if you nurture it with intention.
8. Be intentional with your Family
Close family bonds are nurtured by those who want more from family than just sharing a las name. A family is the smallest unit of society and it is from here that stability of human personality and character is cultivated. When you intentionally choose to create meaning in your family, you deliberately find opportunities to enrich each other. Intentional family life means being supportive of each other, seeking to understand why a member of your family behaves in a certain way and encouraging them to be better versions of themselves.
When you are intentional with your family members, they too will be intentional with you. In the end you will have created a strong bond between you that will be unbroken even in the toughest of circumstances.
Family members quarrel and fight all the time but only intentional units stick together.
9. Be intentional with your friends
Creating time to be with your friends is one of the most important ways of building lasting relationships with them. For most of us, however, friendships happen by chance – have you noticed how easy it is to get out of touch with friends? Everyone talks about how to be a good parent or a good spouse; very few talk and teach us how to be good friends.
Being an intentional friend calls to keep in touch, volunteers time to walk through rough patches in their life, and share memories. What do you remember most about the friend you had in high school? It is the memories of course! That is what makes you cherish the relationship and want to be with them.
10. Be intentional with your Work
So many times we need more than just the idea of the monthly paycheck as motivation to continue to work for 5, 10, 20, or even more years. Going to work every day has a way of turning even the most vibrant individuals into gloomy shadows of themselves. Interestingly, some people seem to maintain their vibrant spirit throughout their entire career.
The secret is usually working with intention. This starts with understanding why you are working where you are working. It could be due to the purpose you were created for, it could be a stepping stone to a different opportunity. Whatever it is, if you understand your why, every move you make within your job and career will You have to be intentional to be like them.
Being intentional at work is paying attention to the things that are considered excellent performance. The journey starts from waking up early every workday with a positive attitude about your job and colleagues. This is hard to do at times and that is where intention comes in.
During those times when you feel drained and demotivated, seek time away from work and pursue a hobby. Continually growing yourself personally and professionally will keep your energy levels high at work.
11. Be intentional with your Health
With most adults trying to balance school, work, and family life, personal health often takes a back seat. This might not seem like a big deal at first but eventually it can lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle diseases. Being healthy is a matter of choice both in the amount of exercise we engage in and in the kinds of food we eat.
Healthy food is often considered not tasty but if you are diligent you can find meals that are both nutritious and delicious. The choice to be healthy has to be consistent for it to yield results. It is not enough to eat a balanced diet at home for dinner then pump your body with junk food over lunch break during the day. If you want to maintain your health, be intentional about making healthy choices a lifestyle.
Be Prudent with intentional living
There is no gain without pain and this applies to all our choices in life. The phrase – choices have consequences is an expression of the direct impact of our choices on the life we lead. If we cultivate the belief that nothing in life happens out of chance then we will position our future for greatness by making the right choices. Intentional living is easy to adopt; just create a routine and stick to it.