I’m incredibly lucky. I’m in beautiful Bali, a place that allows me to operate from a well of peace and calm. It’s one of the key reasons why so many come to the Island of the Gods in search of contemplation and rest (and their own Eat, Pray, Love adventures, but that is another story entirely!). It’s a haven to nourish the soul and reconnect to the heart, allowing people space and time for what I like to call intentional living. As discussed in my last post The Power of Intentional Living, there is incredible personal power that comes from that. But we can’t always be in places like these, and for many of us, the reality of our daily lives doesn’t take place in lush, green rice paddies with the sound of chirping birds all around, where we can really slow life down and become more intentional.
So how do you bring more intention into your daily life – so you are living a life that is on purpose and is the highest expression of who you are?
- You start by creating space and time regardless of where you are. Whether you do this by yourself, with a good friend, or with a coach or therapist, create the space to stand still and observe. Look at what is there, look at what is really going on in your life. If you think you’re too busy, all the more reason to take this time.
How are you doing? No really, how are you?
It’s nice and comfortable sometimes to hang out in the not-knowing, the not-seeing – but it can be a trick we play on ourselves. Whatever is bugging you, tugging at your heart to be heard, you carry with you wherever you go. Consciously, or subconsciously, your energy is being used. Wouldn’t you rather make conscious decisions about how you use your life and energy?
- Be honest with yourself. Sounds easy, no? Getting really honest with ourselves can be difficult but it’s probably one of the most empowering things we can do. When we identify what is working for us, and what is not, we open up to the way to acceptance of the situation as it is, and from there, the door opens to change. We can’t change what we don’t see.
You could simply look at the various areas in your life and see how are things going. If you had to rate your health, your work, your relationships, etc – what would it look like? And what could be ways to improve?
- Use values as guideposts in your life
Values can act like the guideposts in your life that help you make decisions about what is important to you in work and life and what you will or will not do. If you’re living in alignment with your values, you’ll feel good, but when you’re not, that misalignment will show up. It will likely show up in some nagging feelings inside, the feeling that something is just not right.
It’s really worth spending some time on getting clear what your values are, and then seeing whether you’re living in alignment with those values. You’ll probably find that you are in some areas, and in others, you are not. And that is ok, we’re not perfect human beings. Just see it as an opportunity to perhaps make some tweaks here and there so that you are more aligned.
- Create a vision for your life
One of my all-time favourite books is the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Honestly, I don’t think Covey did himself a lot of favours by picking this title, as I think many people shy away from the book thinking it’s all about productivity hacks. It is, but at a much higher level, this beautifully written book is about personal effectiveness and leadership in your life: what are the things that are important to me and am I living in alignment with those priorities?
One of the exercises he suggests is writing down how you want to be remembered at your funeral. Sound a little morbid? Not really, it’s just a very useful exercise to look into what is most important to you. What do you want your partner to say about you? Your friends? Your children? Your colleagues?
Another way of approaching this is about thinking what your ideal day would look like. We human beings have been gifted something extraordinary, which is imagination. We can actually create a mental picture of what it is that we want, and then go and create it. So spend a little time daydreaming, and write down exactly how you would like to spend your ideal day. And again, once you have this mental picture, check it against how you are living your life now. Are you aligned? What clues have you found to move closer to your dreams?
- Set the intention, keep it small, and be ok with not knowing yet
There are more exercises you can do to get clear on what your bigger picture is for your life, and what your priorities are, but what is important is that you don’t become afraid of asking the questions. These can be big questions, but what is important to realise, is that they don’t have to be. As you’ll likely have heard from me before, life takes place in all the small decisions that we make each and every day. Intentional living is much more about bringing consciousness to those small everyday moments, and a call for you to step away from the daily grind.
These can be big questions, but what is important to realise, is that they don’t have to be. Also, be ok with not knowing yet. Just put the question out there, and the answers will eventually come.Life takes place in all the small decisions that we make each and every day. Intentional living is much more about bringing consciousness to those small everyday moments, and a call for you to step away from the daily grind.
- Be present in the moment and choose what to focus your attention on
Be mindful about how you choose to focus your attention. If you feed it negativity, your life will feel negative. If you feed it positivity, it will flourish. Your thoughts determine the experience you have in life. Similarly, you choose how you respond to the things that happen in your life.
For me intentional living more than anything else is about taking personal leadership: how do I make the most of this adventure called life? How do I want to show up? What are my gifts and how do I bring these to the world? It’s a way of being. Conscious, open, present. A purposeful slowing down of life so we can make sure that we are still on the right path, doing the things we love, seeing our loved ones, and savouring the passing moments that together create a life we love.
Conscious, open, present. A purposeful slowing down of life so we can make sure that we are still on the right path, doing the things we love, seeing our loved ones, and savouring the passing moments that together create a life we love.