Self-help magazines, books and gurus often talk about “living consciously,” “living purposefully,” “living intentionally”…..and as I started to see friends increasingly post about their newfound desire to “live with intent,” the more I was intrigued.
From my research, I deduced that living an intentional life involved carrying out each day with consciousness. When you live with intention, you do everything with a specific intent, which aligns with your core values. This involves clarifying your dreams, setting defined intentions, and crafting a lifestyle that aligns with your desires on a daily basis. Part of reconnecting with a life you love involves choosing an existence that aligns with your vision and desires. And since who doesn’t want to love life, I said “sign me up.”
Here are 7 suggestions if would like to test the “intentional waters” yourself:
1. Know your priorities - Make space for the things that truly add value to your life. If attending a weekly group fitness class adds value to your life, in the sense that it helps you maintain your health, then make it a priority, and don’t deviate from it. The act of carving out the time, but moreover cementing it in your calendar, is an example of making an intentional decision.
2. Don't aim for productivity 24/7 - Stop trying to fill every waking minute of your day with something productive. We have a tendency to feel lazy, even guilty, if we aren’t busy “doing.” Assign some time (and stick to it!) every day for being still – use it for prayer, meditation, journaling, listening to music, whatever you’d like. Just make sure while you’re in that time, that your cell phone and text/message notifications are “off.”
3. Single task – Although women pride themselves on being good multi-taskers, it is a huge energy zapper and not very efficient. Charles Dickens once wrote, “He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.” This is a life lived fully in the moment, with a dedication to doing the best you can in anything you do — whether that’s a work project or making a sandwich.
4. Become a noticer - Don’t live life with blinders on, moving so quickly that you miss the life happening around you. Too often we get caught up in our to-do lists, moving at the speed of light, that we also miss opportunities that are right in front of us. Try to incorporate this skill into your life in baby steps – next time you’re at a stoplight, instead of flipping through the radio stations or checking your phone, try turning to look at the car to the right and to the left of you, and then across the street, and then the pedestrians.
5. Plan your week – Plan a weekly meeting with just one attendee - you, where you assess what you accomplished from the past week, and plan for the next one. It’s important that you have a set time frame for tasks like going to the grocery store or getting something done for work. We tend to get distracted, so having a set time frame for each will help you stay focused. Also, consider creating fulfilling routines. This may be walking in the morning, talking with your spouse at the dinner table with the television off, working out, reading, meditating, etc.
6. Track your time – This is the hard part. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve probably tracked your calories. If you’re hip, you probably have a Fitbit that tracks your activities. But, we must start viewing our days, and the hours, minutes and seconds that are inside of them, like the precious commodities that they are. Adopt the repetitive motion of which lawyers make an art form and….track!
7. Define your vision - It's REALLY hard to live intentionally if you haven't given any thought into what your mission, or vision, is. Write a mission statement. Make a vision board. Set some goals. Get SUPER specific on what the heck you want to do with this year.
“But, Kate,” you ask, “what did YOU decide to do? How did YOU live intentionally?”
Well, when I started researching this is in 2015, I decided 2016 was going to be MY year.I decided to commit myself to a subject matter that has always been near and dear to my heart.It required a LOT of planning, but I am very happy to report that my year-long social experiment proved beneficial in many ways, and effected many different areas of my life.
Commencing with the first day of 2016, I committed myself to only buy products & services from women-owned businesses for 365 days.I did this for several reasons – to highlight some of the great women-owned businesses out there, to do my small part in helping to grow these businesses, and to show that ANYONE can do this, as long as you just “shift your shopping.”
If you are attending the FestiGals® New Orleans Women’s Leadership Conference on June 23rd, I hope you will join me for my breakout session. I plan to share some of the great women-owned business “finds” I discovered in my journey, my research method, as well as tips and tricks that will allow you to support women-owned business every time you shop.
But overall, I hope that you will consider making your own mission for living an intentional life.
Kate Armstrong’s great grandmother was an entrepreneur during the 30’s, a time where women rarely owned businesses.Kate’s heritage, plus her former career as a Corporate Diversity Manager, led her to spend 2016 the year she lived intentionally by solely supporting women business owners.Follow her on various social media platforms and her blog - @IntentionalKate.