Are you living life with intention? In other words, are you actively choosing what you want and taking steps to achieve those things? Or, as Jennifer of Simply + Fiercely put it: are you living on autopilot?
This isn’t an easy way to live. It takes determination, focus, and a willingness to keep going even when everyone else is judging you for it or thinks you’re crazy.
That doesn’t mean it’s not impossible. Quite the opposite, it’s possible for everyone and anyone to live with intention. In fact, it’s necessary if you want to create a life you’re excited to live; a life that feels like your own.
If you’re struggling to get out of a rut or find a path in life that feels true to you, consider the five pillars of living life with intention. Let them guide you on this lifelong journey that gets better with every step you take.
If you don’t know what you want, how can you get intentional about making it happen? This is why clarity is so important for living life with intention. Without it, you’re operating without a guide map, not sure where to go or what turns to make.
The reason we often lack clarity is because we don’t realize we get to choose our route. We get to make choices every single day—we don’t have to do what others tell us or what we think we should do. As Joshua Becker, from Becoming Minimalist, says:
“You get to pick your attitude and your decisions. You don’t have to let the circumstances of your past negatively determine the pattern of your life in the future. You have a choice in the matter. You do not need to be stuck in the same pattern of living that you have been for years… realize that every morning is a new opportunity.”
What’s more, without this clarity, you lack something necessary for overcoming the hurdles that will inevitably come your way: a greater why. This greater why is what anchors you when you’re struggling to make progress or getting pushed back from everyone around you. It gives you a reason to keep going, no matter what.
The challenge with finding this clarity, is that what you truly want is often hidden under layers of expectations, limiting beliefs and old stories. All of these things are guiding you down a road you think you should take.
To truly get clear on what you want to pursue, you have to dig past all that. Gain clarity with a few powerful questions:
- What would make me want to jump out of bed every morning?
- In the perfect world with no limitations, what does my ideal day look like?
- If I could do anything, what would that be?
The key is to dig past the surface answer. You may need to ask yourself these questions multiple times to get to what you truly want—but when you find it, you won’t be able to ignore it any longer
Living life with intention isn’t always easy. Distractions, fears, doubts and roadblocks, often disguised as opportunities, are going to come your way. Having a strong accountability system in place allows you to continually move forward, no matter what gets in your way.
The challenge is this: holding ourselves accountable can be hard because the easier option is rarely the one we should choose. Instead of sending that important email, we walk away from our computer to clean the house. Instead of finishing our new business website, we bury ourselves at work.
If you struggle with holding yourself accountable, there are a few ways you can master this pillar of living life with intention:
- Find an accountability group. This could be a networking group, a few co-workers or friends, or even an established mastermind.
- Find an accountability partner. Choose someone who you know will hold you accountable—not let you off the hook.
One of the most challenging aspects of living life with intention is that not everyone is doing it. In fact, most people aren’t—they’re just living life based on what they think they should do.
This means, when you make choices that are in your best interest or decide to go after that big dream of yours, they have a hard time supporting you. Why? Because they’re too afraid to do it themselves, so they don’t know how to support you or they get triggered and judge you instead.
This is why finding a community of people who are living with intention is so key to your success. You need to surround yourself with people who can cheer you on, show you the way, and be there when you doubt yourself.
Some people already have this in their best friends and family. Many, however, need to look elsewhere. If you need to find this community, you can find it in:
- Networking groups, online and in-person
- Communities specific to your industry
- Co-workers and bosses
- Social media
Mindset Work and Mindfulness
“Mindset is everything” is more than just a catchy phrase. Mindset work is critical to living with intention because, if you’re buried in fears, doubts, limiting beliefs and old stories, taking action is hard. These issues come up again and again, keeping you stuck in one place rather than moving toward what you want.
The most important aspect of the mindset work is self-discovery: digging into who you truly are and what you truly want so you can create a life you love. While there are many ways to go about this—and it’s a journey you’ll be on your whole life—here are a few key tools for doing the mindset work so you can live with intention:
- Focus on abundance
- Take self-assessments
- Do the “ask your friends” challenge
Dig into each one of these tools in our article, The Power of Self-Discovery, to start doing the mindset work.
In addition to the mindset work, get mindful during your day. I love the opportunities to practice mindfulness that Justin and Erica of The Real Simple Good Life share:
- Spend time in meditation
- Practice active listening
- Use mindful eating
- Notice sensations when you’re walking
Pay attention to your cravings
To get where you want to go, you need to be persistent. It will take time. It will take failure. It will take hearing “no” more often than you’d like. If you can stick with it, however, you can create a truly amazing life for yourself, one that you’re excited to wake up every day and live.
All the other pillars of living life with intention help you maintain this persistence:
- Clarity: Keeps you moving forward, despite obstacles.
- Accountability: When you’re struggling to keep going, accountability pushes you forward.
- Community: Continually reminds you that every challenge is worth it and you are supported.
- Mindset work: Helps you peel back the layers, find your confidence, and push forward more powerfully every single day.
Start Living Life With Intention Today
You don’t need to have mastered all of these pillars to start living life with intention. You just need to bring them into focus and start making them a regular part of your life. If you want to build a life you can call your own—that you’re proud to live every single day—now is the time to get started, using these five pillars as your guide.
Jessica Thiefels is a published author, host of Mindset Reset Radio, CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, and co-founder of Don’t Ask How. She's been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur. Jessica is on a mission to empower women to make their own rules and live with intention so they wake up every day excited about the life they get to live. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.