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Last Updated on October 4, 2021

What Is Intentional Living (And How To Live Intentionally)

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What Is Intentional Living (And How To Live Intentionally)

The one thing you remember the most and take with you in life is your experiences. A lovely house, that fast car, the big screen TV, and the material possessions of life may be enjoyable at the moment, but they won’t stay with you forever.

We’re given an image of what it means to create a successful life, but we weren’t told that the image is consumerism-driven. The nice house, fancy car, and material possessions cost money, and more than likely, you’ll borrow money to acquire them. The borrowing will lead to interest that keeps you in debt and diminishes your opportunities to have more experiences.

Social media compounds the problem as there are images of success all around us. We see others posting about the great things they’re experiencing. Those images don’t paint the complete picture, and what we’re exposed to daily can often be a false view of a successful life. You then try to live up to what you see on social media, and it takes you farther away from living an intentional life.

Life is short, and time is the one resource we can never replenish no matter how badly we want to. Spending most of your life trying to reach the pinnacle of success through a consumerism-driven life is not intentional living. Chasing false images of success is not being intentional with the limited time you have. Living a life influenced by outside expectations will keep you from living intentionally.

Freedom should be the goal. Having the ability to wake up each day and spend your time exactly how you want to spend it is freedom and a key to intentional living. Here’s what you need to understand about intentional living, why it’s important, and how to live an intentional life.

What Does Intentional Living Mean?

If we want to live intentionally, we first have to understand what it really means.

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Intentional Living Is Waking Up Each Day With Clarity

You can’t live life intentionally if you’re unclear about what a good life means to you. You’ll never accomplish goals that help you become the best version of yourself if the way you spend your time is based on an unclear and confusing life path.

A lot of the way we live is based on our past and what we were taught. You may have grown up being taught certain paths of life that don’t align with what you want for your life. Clarity about what makes sense for you is an essential part of intentional living.

There comes a point in life when you need to take a moment to stop and think about the things that you want to accomplish and why those things are important to you. You may want to learn a new language, travel the world, start a business, get a raise at your job, have kids, or a hundred other things—clarity is vital. You’ll never accomplish your goals if you’re not clear about what those goals, desires, and dreams are.

Intentional Living Is a Commitment to Become the Best Version of Yourself

You’re going to have a lot of goals and ambitions in life, but the important one is to become the most optimized version of yourself. Your goal should be to become the strongest version of yourself in your mind, body, and spirit.

You can achieve a life of intentional living when you have clarity about which areas of your life you’d like to optimize. You’ll need a lot of energy to accomplish your goals, and being intentional about becoming the best version of yourself will help you get there.

Make a commitment to move more frequently, fuel your body with proper nutrition, and feed your mind and soul the content and inspiration that motivates you to push consistently towards your goals. Keep a circle of other growth-focused human beings that inspire you to take action.

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Why Intentional Living Matters

Now, we understand intentional living better, but why does it matter?

Give You Power and Control of Your Life

Living a life based on someone else’s expectations is not intentional living. When you are not clear about what you want for your life, you’re giving away the power and control of it. Living intentionally helps you get clarity, spend your time on only the things that feel good to you, and creates the path to becoming your best self.

Intentional living helps you create freedom in every sense of the word. It helps you learn to stop caring about what other people think and start caring about what you think. It’s time for you to be the one in control of your decisions and how you spend your time.

Help You Avoid the Regret of Living Someone Else’s Vision for Your Life

There are too many stories of people who come to the end of their lives regretting all the things they didn’t do. They lived a life where they accumulated material possession but did not have many experiences.

Human beings can spend forty years of their life working a job that makes them miserable or a business they hate. It’s not uncommon for people to spend most of their life people-pleasing and living up to other people’s expectations. Too many people let other people drain them and don’t make themselves a priority (ever).

You’ll never intentionally live life if you let other people run all over you and live a life of other people’s expectations. Don’t come to the end of your life regretting decisions that you could’ve done something about. Live life with a vision and purpose that feels good to you.

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How to Live Intentionally

By now, I hope you see why living intentionally is important and what it means to do so. The next thing to consider is how exactly you can live intentionally.

1.Set Plenty of Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries

is an essential part of living intentionally. It’s important to set boundaries with yourself and the outside world. You’ll have to say no more often. You’ll have to learn to stop giving in to things that don’t make you feel good. You’ll have to realize that how other people feel is their issue, not yours.

Setting boundaries is a form of self-love that makes you stronger and leads to intentional living. Respect yourself by making others honor the boundaries you set. It will feel as if you’re being mean when you set boundaries, but you’re actually doing what’s best for everyone. Love yourself by standing up for yourself.

2. Do What You Actually Want to Do

You have bills to pay and, no doubt, responsibilities. The good news is that you can take care of your bills, build wealth, and still spend your time doing what you want to do. This doesn’t have to be an either-or situation—the goal is to figure out how to create a life that brings you intentional freedom.

Intentional living happens when you have clarity on the goals, ambitions, and freedom-based lifestyle you’d like to create. You wake up each day with your schedule filled with things you want to be doing. If it doesn’t feel good to you, it shouldn’t be on your schedule.

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Stop believing the limiting belief that you have to live a life doing things you don’t enjoy just to live a few years in the end happily. Intentional living is when you commit to doing those things you enjoy now and find a path to create the balance between necessary tasks and things that feel in alignment.

3. Put in the Work Every Day and Commit to Consistency

The only way you’ll get to the point of living intentionally is through hard work and consistency. You want to spend your time doing the things you want to do, but all of those things will require daily work. The goal is to become the best version of yourself, and putting in the work is how you get there.

Daily consistent actions create habits that compound into goals accomplished. Intentional living allows you to be clear about what that work is, the type of habits you’re going to develop, and how the work will give you the mental fortitude to be consistent. The only way you’ll accomplish your goal is if you move beyond words and into action. Respect yourself and the life you’re creating by consistently doing the work. Create a schedule that prioritizes what you need to accomplish before you start thinking about the outside world.

The good news is that work feels less like work when you spend your time on the tasks that help you become a better you. Living intentionally creates a life in which you don’t always feel as if work is a punishment.

Final Thoughts

If you’re not living intentionally, now is a great time to start. The only way you’ll get to where you want to go is if you gain clarity and take action. It’s time to stop letting what everyone else has going on in their life influence yours. Live intentionally by waking up each day spending your time working on living your best life.

Stop measuring success based on what material possessions you can accumulate in this life. Live life intentionally by valuing experiences and freedom over stuff. Create your freedom by spending your time doing the things that are important to you and make you feel good. Put yourself first and become the best version of yourself.

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More About Intentional Living

Featured photo credit: Allef Vinicius via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kimanzi Constable

Author of "Are You Living or Existing?" Writer who helps people live a one-percent life.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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