Intentional living is a term that is being thrown around quite a bit lately. Some use it as a path to spiritual enlightenment, while others are just trying to find meaning in their day. Whatever your story, most of us can all agree on one thing; living a purposeful life, full of meaning and wholeheartedness, sounds as enticing as it does unreachable.
When it comes to living intentionally, most people can get as far as "well, what are my intentions, exactly?" Cue crickets and jeopardy theme song. To live intentionally means to have a lifestyle where you act with intention, so if you aren't sure what your intentions are, it can be discouraging to say the least.
Adulting is more complex than ever these days, and after having children, building careers, and the multitude of other life events that can change our perspective, it's no wonder why so many people are struggling to find direction. It feels as though losing your sense of self these days is as easy as losing your keys.
The good news is, not only is it possible to transform your lifestyle into one of intention, it's something almost anyone can do. Running in the hamster wheel of a life stuck in auto-pilot or survival mode is no way to live.
A question I often ask myself is how did we get here? How did we get to the point where we're so burnt out and overwhelmed that we can't seem to ever get ahead? Where did all of our time and energy go? Well, let's look back a few years.
If you remember, everything was about grit, hustle, and working your ass off, often to the detrement of your own health. "Busy" had become the new black, and the only answer to, "How are you?" Masses of millennials and Gen-x'ers were realizing that the promise of work-hard-and-you-shall-receive that we grew up on wasn't exactly panning out. To put it bluntly, we burned out.
What came next was no surprise; the slow-it-the-f-down movement. Mindfulness, minimalism, conscious consumerism, and Marie Kondo are now household names, and "hustle" has become a dirty word. We started making our own candles, clothes, tea, etc., reading ethical fashion blogs and magazines about paper crafts, chakras, and obsessing over our wellbeing. While there are undeniable benefits from these practices, in reality, we have a mountain of other things that we have to do; that our kids, employees, parents, partners, pets, etc. are depending on us to do. Sorry, Reese, but this bookclub pick is going on the back burner...again...they're actually starting to make a pretty pile.
Now don't get me wrong, slowing down, meditating, taking a few moments to just breathe and be still are extremely valuable, and in my current situation, necessary practices. If more people did this, the world would be a much warmer, kinder, more honest place. That being said, it's an uphill battle, and just plain unrealistic for most people to find the time, money, or energy to be making their sourdough from organic, home-grown ingredients, reading all the new self-help books, and taking bubble baths every night.
If you're working, keeping up a household and/or a family, taking a bit of time for yourself, staying kind-of-sort-of healthy, and once and a while having a social life, when are you supposed to do this stuff? The pendulum has swung from go-go-go at 1000 mph to a hard stop stand-still in productivity. Is it even possible to be productive and effectively mindful at the same time? Yes, of course it is, but to do that, you need to act with intention. In order to act with intention, you need to know what you stand for.
It isn't easy if you've experienced a loss of self, traumatic life change, are dealing with mental health issues, or have just been going with the flow so long that you've forgotten who you are. It is a challenge in itself to simply admit that, much less do anything about it. So if you are currently thinking, "ugh...that sounds about right," major props to you, you're already ahead of the curve.
The difference between all-hustle, all-slow, and intentionality is that the first promises you production often at the cost of your mental and/or physical health. The second promises you peace at the cost of production. The third promises you a custom balance of productivity, peace, and most importantly, joy. You can hustle but enforce boundaries, and slow things down where you see fit. Learn how to put your ego, others' expectations, and productivity as a means of worth, down the drain. Intentional living gives you the chance to align your lifestyle with your values and find joy in being who you want to be.
I believe things happen because we make them happen. I also believe that people are inherantly good. Whether you dream of saving the planet, helping your family slow down and enjoy each other more, or just having the time to be there for yourself, you aren't as far away from making that a reality as you think. But in order for anything to change, you need to take action.
When you work on yourself, everyone around you reeps the benefits. It isn't selfish to take the time to get to know yourself, to take a 5 minute meditation break at work, to set and enforce social boundaries with toxic people (and negative self-talk). By getting to know who you truly are and living with intention, you cut out the BS, clear the clutter, hone in on what you stand for, and ultimately give your good intentions a chance to shine through.
Sounds great, right? Now how the heck do you do that? I'm glad you asked. I have a four step program that will guide you step by step through the entire process; from overwhelm to clear, confident, and impactful. Are you ready to take the first step towards a modern, intentional life? If so, sign up to get the guide sent straight to your inbox.