Intentional living or living with purpose is deciding what lifestyle you want and choosing to live it every day. Intentional living is the same technique for everyone but there may be a different set of goals or motivation behind your choices. I want to walk you through how my family became clear on our ‘intention’ and how we live it every day. Please understand that our ‘intention’ or purpose will undoubtedly change throughout our lives. In fact, we expect it to. We will revisit our intentions regularly to make sure they continue to fit our family’s needs.
Some may argue that choosing your path is selfish and only keeps the focus on yourself. However, I feel that this lifestyle is not selfish and is, in fact, very generous. You will be choosing a life full of the most important items. For instance, if you determine that you want to help others but you never choose to make time for this you will never be able to complete this aspiration. For my family, our intentions are ministry, people and time. These are the things that bring the most value to us. These are the things that we treasure.
For me personally, intentional living is spending more time with Jesus, my husband and kids. It’s not trading time for money. It’s removing stress which makes me unhappy. Rather, it’s choosing joy every day and in every circumstance. It’s not doing what is expected from others just because they think it’s best. It is about choosing grace, gratitude and a giving heart. In addition, I want instill a sense of responsibility in my children and still have time to slow down to enjoy life and each other.
Think of your intentions this way, have you ever taken a piece of paper and thrown it? If it’s flat it will fly all over the place. You never know where it will land while it floats to the ground. When the surface of the paper is flat you have all kinds of energies acting on it causing it to veer and weave. So while it’s falling the paper will be moved every which way because there is no clear direction.
On the flip side, if you take the very same piece of paper wad it up and throw it you will be able to hit your target much faster. What’s the difference? The paper that’s wadded up has less surface area which means that it doesn’t have energies pushing and pulling against it. If you are wadded up or laser focused on your goal you will be able to reach it. If you are spread thin, trying to reach every goal at once, you will be pulled into many directions and you never know where you will land. In fact, you may end up somewhere unintended. Frankly, you may not like where you end up.
The point of this story is if you are not focused on something, preferably something you choose, you will float through life not sure where you will land and not sure of the outcome. In order to choose what you want, you have to first decide what you want. Then you have to live it every day.
What is it that you want? More time with your children or grandchildren? What about more time to volunteer at your favorite organization? Maybe you want more time to focus on growing your character? Or maybe you simply want to cook more and enjoy some great food? Or what about a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Ok, you see why it’s important? Now let’s get clear on some goals.
There are so many ways to accomplish this and quiet frankly it’s easy to get bogged down and lost in the weeds. I do not want you to be in the weeds so I will share what worked for me.
One of the most profound ways that help define my intent came from ‘Living Forward’ by Michael Hyatt. This book walks you through a process to determine your life goals. The exercise that had the biggest impact was writing my eulogy. My eulogy was written so that it answers the big question ‘How do I want to be remembered?’. Honestly, I want to be remembered as a Christ-follower who is in love with her Savior, a mom who is there and positive for my kids and a wife who is my husband’s biggest cheerleader. Just these goals require an immense amount of focus. It means choosing the right times to complete certain activities and choosing the right words at the right time. I’m not the best at any but getting better every day.
Think about your life, what do you want? What do you want to be different?
It’s time to ask yourself the tough question – when my life is over, what do I want people to remember of me? If you are not this person today then maybe it’s time to change.
Defining your intentions mean more than setting a fickle goal. It’s not deciding you want deep character choices that will require discipline to achieve. Spend 15 minutes a day for a week to pray for clarity and to think about your intents. Take longer if you need it. Write down your prayer and thoughts each day.
Another way to take inventory of your intentions is to document where you spend your time. Spend a few minutes each day to write down how you spend your time. Do this during the day without trying anything new so you can get a clear picture of how you are spending your time. Example – 30 minutes for exercise, 30 minutes for food prep, 2 hours watching tv, etc. How did you spend your time today?
Download my worksheet Define Your Intention on how to Determine Your Path and follow the steps to help you determine your goals.