Sometimes you need a jolt, a push even, to make a change. Like most of us, I know that the person I am today is not who I want to be in the end. I want to be someone who makes time for other people, stresses less, and loves more. I also want to be a person of integrity, who can’t help but stand up for what she believes in instead of cowering in the corner sucking her thumb. Essentially, I want to live an intentional life.
A Drastic Move to a More Intentional Life
Last week, I let you all know of a big change happening for our family. (You can read that post here.) We are moving to a new community, and getting a much needed fresh start. But thankfully, we will be close enough to maintain the relationships that are so important to us. All that to say, I believe this move is necessary for us to live a more intentional life.
We want to live our lives in such a way that people and relationships can come first. We want to live a life that’s slower and leaves plenty of room for reaching out to those God puts in our lives. And we want to intentionally live our life so that we are growing in the areas we need to, instead of stressing about unnecessary things.
If you find yourself in a place where your life isn’t what you wanted, or you aren’t who you wanted to become, it’s time to reevaluate. Here are the steps I took to live a more intentional life, and I hope that they can help you too. 🙂
4 Steps to a More Intentional Life
1. Evaluate Your Life
If you’re like me, you naturally evaluate yourself and your life All. The. Time. Constant evaluation and self-reflection can be healthy when it drives you to change and become a better person. If you want to make changes to your life, what are they? What drives you crazy about yourself or the way you are living?
Focus on the things you have control over. I’m not talking about petty things like the way your eyebrows grow in or the color of your hair. You can change those things if you want, but those things might be part of what makes you…you. One thing I don’t want for my life anymore is stressing about what people think about me. I know that this insecurity is what causes me to live in fear, to back down when it’s important not to, and to avoid people. What is it for you?
2. Decide What You Want
What you want out of life might simply be the opposite of what you just decided you don’t want, or it might just be different. Sometimes what we don’t want isn’t all bad, it just needs to be used in a more healthy and effective way. For example, my insecurity isn’t all bad. It keeps me humble, causes me to be self-aware, and helps me see the needs of others. I don’t want to do away with my insecurity…I want to channel it into the areas I just mentioned and stop letting it cause fear.
Maybe you don’t want to devote as much time to your career as you once thought and instead spend more time with your family. Or maybe you want to be a better friend. Maybe you want to be known for your integrity, your honesty, or your humility. Whatever it is, name it. Write it down. Read it over and over until you know for sure it is what you want for your life no matter what, and at all costs. Define who you are and what you need to live an intentional life.
3. Make Changes to Get There
Making changes to get to the ideal you or your ideal life will take baby steps. It’s not going to happen overnight, and you are going to have to work on it for your entire lifetime. The second you stop taking steps towards your goal, you begin sliding backwards without even realizing it. This is why it is essential that you truly decided on what is most important to you. Because if you are taking steps towards these things, other things will have to slip away.
If you want to be better at public speaking, for example, you’ll want to start small. Let’s say that right now you can’t sleep the night before you have to present a project to your supervisor and a few colleagues. You might start working at getting better at public speaking by just walking through your ideas with one colleague. Or practicing with a close friend. This small step, if practiced repeatedly, will help you get to the point where presenting to several coworkers isn’t completely terrifying. Start small, and work your way up. Living an intentional life is about taking small steps every day towards your goals.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. -Proverbs 4:26
4. Stay the Course
All of this will be for nothing if you lose focus on what matters to you. Visualize the life you want or the person you want to be, and keep it on the forefront of your mind. Put sticky notes on your bathroom mirror. Ask a friend to keep asking you about your progress. You could even put checkpoints on your calendar for the next few years. Do whatever you need to do to stay the course and keep living a more intentional life.
Most importantly, keep your eyes ahead on the life you want to live, or you’ll end up living one you never intended. When you mow your lawn, you can see where you’ve been, and therefore where you need to go, by following the lines in the grass. But if your lawn is anything like mine…dry, sparse, full of weeds and dead spots where the dog peed…it’s harder to see which way to go unless you look 10 feet ahead. Then, you can faintly make out the line that you need to follow. You will need to use some serious focus to not lose sight of that line.
Just like in life, if you lose focus on which way to go, you will likely have to back track to get the spots you missed. Going off track isn’t the end of the world, but it will take more time and more energy to go back and clean up your mistakes, change old habits, or realign your priorities.
Our Attempt to Pursue an Intentional Life
I’ve found myself in a spot of backtracking, which is why we have felt the need to start over by moving to a new community. I’m not saying that something so drastic is necessary for each of us to reach our goals. But for us, when we evaluated our life, decided what we wanted out of life, and thought about the changes that needed to happen in order to get there, we agreed that moving and getting a fresh start was most effective. It was going to get us to where we wanted to be and who we wanted to be sooner. The new community we chose is a better fit for our family…further out from the hustle and bustle of city life where slow living just makes less sense.
So what is it for you? What do you want out of life that you have been neglecting to develop? Do you need to do anything today to start moving in that direction or to help you stay the course? What does living an intentional life look like for you? Share with us in the comments!