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Published on December 21, 2020

9 Ways to Be Intentional Every Day to Change Your Life

9 Ways to Be Intentional Every Day to Change Your Life

I always find it interesting when adults tell kids that they are living their best lives…that they are lucky because they are carefree and don’t have to worry about a mortgage. However, kids have always ached to be grown-ups because they inherently value something most of us take for granted: agency. Agency to pick their own bedtimes, design their own careers, and be intentional in taking the steps necessary to make their dreams come true.

While they sit in their car seats and go along for the ride, we have the opportunity to set our destination, chart our course, and take off with a full tank.

Yet, in our hurry to do all of life’s doing, many of us forget that we are in the driver’s seat. We slide into the passenger seat of someone else’s car, and before we know it we aren’t even sure how we got to our destination.

How did we end up with this life, this career, this family? Did you choose or did it just happen? In our flurry to check the milestone boxes (degree, promotion, marriage, kids, home), we lose sight of purpose, vision, passion, and intention.

To be intentional is to be present. When you are present in the moment, you are not thinking about what went wrong yesterday or all the ways things can go wrong tomorrow. When you are present, you are thinking about this moment and what you can do with it.

Here are 10 ways to be intentional every day and create a life you love.

1. Give up the Passive Excursion

Wake up with a commitment to being in the driver’s seat of your own life. You are not living to make your others’ dreams come true today. You are responsible for you. If you have been letting one of them drive, it’s time to take back the wheel.

Stop with all of the stories you have been telling yourself about why you have to come last. This is a false narrative and serves no one.

When you decide to be intentional in how you live, you will have more energy to go around, and everyone will benefit!

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Set your sights on what you want to do immediately, what you can do soon, and what is on the horizon to chart the course toward what you want to see and do for yourself.

Whether this is about deciding to take action on the personal front, professional front, or both, you will need to have a clear vision for what you want.

2. Start With Your Body

Listen to your heartbeat, your temperature, your stomach; what does your body need to feel good? A big glass of water? A nutritious breakfast and a stretch to start your day?

Forget about the diet you have been trying to keep and the tight pants that have made you feel restricted while sitting on Zoom calls. Invite the possibility that your body already knows what is good for you.

Start to get mindful.

Mindful eating, drinking, sleeping, and resting is all about being in the driver’s seat. Pay attention to the messages your body is sending you about what it needs to live in the present moment. When we challenge it, disregard it, and push our own agenda, we are actively resisting intention.

3. Optimize Your Space

We happen to our space, it doesn’t happen to us. As a self-admitted mess maker, I sometimes wonder how the clothes are still not folded and how “I will do it tomorrow” turned into “I will do it next week.” Regardless, chaos breeds chaos.

According to Marie Condo, “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life-transforming.”

When we are being intentional, we are taking control of our immediate environment and designing a space that meets our functional needs and showcases our personality. Try surrounding yourself with your favorite inspirational quotes, an accent pillow in your favorite color, and an attractive clock to help hold you accountable throughout your day. You will thank yourself, and your Zoom background will, too!

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4. Energy Map Your Day

CEOs wake up at 6 a.m. they say…so what? Stop chasing other peoples’ productivity solutions and design what works best for you. Start by noticing the times of day you feel peak energy. Do you work best when you start early and end early, or do you prefer to start late and end late?

When you are able to isolate the time of day you feel the greatest focus, create a personalized energy map to schedule the most detail-oriented and/or robust tasks accordingly[1].

Conversely, save the simple, automated, or flexible tasks for the hours when you are running on low steam or reviving yourself after a sprint of heavy focus.

5. Narrate Your Progress

Don’t wait for the day to be over to check in with yourself about your progress. Do a brief audit:

  • Have I worked on the things that relate to my most pressing goals?
  • Have I allowed myself to leverage workable solutions before perfect solutions to maintain momentum?
  • Are there things that I could or should do differently to maximize my progress today?

If there are opportunities to improve strategy, intervene early, and benefit from a quick recalibration, do it.

6. Don’t Push Too Hard, Too Fast

Strategy is really about working smarter, not harder. When you are truly intentional, you are thinking about ways to maximize your impact without overdoing it.

Notice where there may be shortcuts, automations or additional support available to achieve your designated action steps quicker or more efficiently.

The goal is to avoid burnout. Even when the steps we are taking bring us joy and we are excited to make a change or improvement, sustainability is key.

Notice where it is worth your time to invest some time upfront to get time back later.

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Think e-mail labels, pre-scheduled posts, Calendly, or other work-flow tactics that take a little extra time to establish but buy you back tons of hours and endless frustration on the back end.

If you are a “do it the way I have always done it” kind of person, it’s time to change—and it’s okay to ask for help. Technology offers us a ton of time-saving, strategy-supporting solutions that we don’t want to miss out on. Don’t let fear be your barrier to entry.

Reach out to a tech savvy friend, colleague or acquaintance, and seek the information you need to break through this barrier.

7. Check Those Distractions

Confront the time sucks in your life. Whether you have been doom scrolling on the gram, texting all day about the latest in reality TV, or taking too many trips to the pantry to interrupt your Zoom fatigue, it is time to distinguish between the useless and the useful.

Constant and ongoing distraction has limited benefit. Whether it is incessant Slacks running in the foreground or the TV blaring while you attempt to do your work, we know that multitasking is virtually useless. Commit to being all in when you are, and then make the decision to fully opt into well-spaced breaks.

Regular breaks are not only useful; they are pivotal. Take time to schedule them, take them, and meaningfully benefit from a stretch, nap, or short walk.

You want the time that you take away from the activities that move you in the direction of your hopes and dreams to be well spent. Don’t waste it on Facebook or Tic Tok—unless it’s your break indulgence of choice.

8. Fail Forward

Mess up intentionally. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I mean it. When we are intentional about succeeding, we also have to be willing to fail. We have to be willing to take a stab at something we could totally botch, and waste no time in getting to a second attempt.

If the fear of failure paralyzes us from trying at all, it is a direct blocker to living intentionally.

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It’s not to say that we will fail every time, but we need to normalize the experience for ourselves so that if it happens often, we use it to learn, adjust, iterate, and keep moving.

9. Invite People Into Your Plans

You don’t have to keep your dreams a secret. When you wake up to live with intention, you know what you want, and you can’t be afraid to tell others about it. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the final product is ready to tell friends, family, or even strangers about it.

Invite the possibility that people may be excited to help you get there. Very few of us make our dreams happen alone. Prepare yourself to talk about what you are aiming to do, your personal “why” motivating you, and and what you need to get it done.

When you are willing to narrate your needs, there is a chance that someone is ready and willing to share the missing piece.

For those of us who hate asking for help, this is a mountain worth climbing. Give it a try, process the discomfort you feel, and remember that if it was someone else telling you about their dreams and you were in a position to help, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Final Thoughts

Choosing to be intentional takes commitment, and it is really about playing the long game. You will wake up and choose this day in and day out, and it may still take time to see the fruits of your labor.

Remember a purpose worth pursuing is never easy, and others will gladly celebrate beside you when it all comes together. That moment will be no accident. You will know in your heart of hearts that you chose the hard road of consistency, sacrifice, and focus. Things don’t just happen. You make it happen.

The choice is yours. Open the car door, slide into the driver’s seat, secure your seatbelt, and take the wheel. This is the ride where you call all the shots.

More on Living Intentionally

Featured photo credit: Bohdan Pyryn via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Staci Taustine

Founder & CEO, Stubborn Heart Consulting LLC.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

When you dare to dream big, you are taking an active role in your life. You are being present and allowing yourself to experience things as they happen. As you make a conscious effort to set goals and achieve them, you are going to have a richer life experience. In this article, we discuss 7 reasons to dream big.

1. Live a Life of No Regrets

There are plenty of experiences in life that don’t come around very often. Halley’s Comet, for instance, comes around once every 75 years. As a result, most people make a serious effort to experience this once in a lifetime event. When you understand something is special, you usually try to make it a point to experience it.

Your life and the experiences you accumulate are no less valuable. Yet, there are people who are not experiencing this very special opportunity every day.

There is little worse than coming to the end of your life and realizing you never lived your fullest life. By acknowledging that your life is as special of an event as an eclipse or Halley’s Comet, you will live your life to the fullest. When you dare to dream big, you are breaking your limits and challenging the status quo.

2. Inspire Others

Think about the stories that motivate you to take action. These are usually stories of people who overcame the odds and achieved something great. It is why so many people love to watch movies; you are living vicariously through the experiences of the hero. Their willingness to do the right thing in the bleakest of times is the stuff legends are made of.

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Heroes exist in real life, too. Just like in the movies, they are the people who show courage in the face of danger and dare to dream in the face of adversity. They are also willing to put the needs of others above their own. You could inspire the next generation by your contribution if you dare to dream big.

3. Receive a Greater Reward

Those who are willing to take risks in life end up receiving the lion’s share of the reward. Think about the difference between someone who opens their own law firm versus someone who chooses to be a public defender. They are essentially doing the same work, but the person who is a public defender is not taking any risk. They are going to receive a consistent paycheck every week, regardless of the amount of work they perform.

Someone who owns their own law firm has the ability to earn an unlimited amount of income. However, they also have the ability to earn nothing.

Those who dare to dream big understand that there is a risk associated with their decisions. Most people are not willing to take on the risk associated with chasing their dreams because do not want to be put in a position where they can lose everything. They would rather live a life short of their true potential in order to avoid possible failure…but where’s the fun in that?

4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is such a wonderful place. You get into a little groove and things seem to be coming along naturally.

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However, while your comfort zone can feel great, it is also the place where your big dreams go to die. For someone to dare to dream big, they know they must push themselves beyond their current limits. A Yale study says that stability shuts off the switch to your brain. In other words, when you remain in your comfort zone, your brain stops learning.[1]

When you dare to dream big, you are encouraging your brain to imagine ways to accomplish your goal. There is a level of uncertainty that causes you to fear leaving your comfort zone. You are worried about your ability to succeed and whether the journey is worth traveling.

You may think, “What if I invest a year into this relationship and find out this person is not right for me?” Or what if you accept that new position, but you don’t like your new boss? All of these thoughts are signs that you are about to leave your comfort zone. Instead of running away from these experiences, try to lean into them.

5. Living Small Doesn’t Help Anyone

The sad truth is that plenty of people will not like you simply because you are successful. Success will test your relationships with your friends and family. You will feel tempted to limit yourself and not pursue your big dreams.

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you cannot dare to dream big because the people you are currently around dream small. Living small only hinders your growth and theirs[2]. At least by pursuing your dreams, your friends and family may live through your experiences. As a result, you may be the catalyst they need to pursue their own.

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In addition, you never know what amazing things you will accomplish if you dare to dream big. Imagine going to medical school and creating the cure for cancer. Or making advancements in technology and changing the human experience for decades to come. You need to find your motivation and drive in life.

If everyone lived small, there would be no innovation, advancement, or growth. Does that sound like a world you want to be a part of?

6. Conquer Fear

There are two choices in life. You are either living a life of fear or a life of dreams. When you dare to dream big, you are undoubtedly living a life based on your dreams. Your dreams are found in that little voice inside of you that tells you all the amazing things you can do to change the world.

The problem most people face is they have another voice in their head telling them all the reasons they cannot live their dream life.[3] This voice is constantly reminding you of all of your mistakes and all of the reasons success is not possible.

Fear is a powerful tool you can utilize to help you take action. Instead of being afraid of how someone is going to react, be afraid of letting yourself down. Stop thinking about the worst thing that can happen for once and start thinking about the best things that can happen.

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How would your life be different if you dared to dream big? In fact, how would the life of those you love be different because of your willingness to pursue your dreams? Allow these answers to fuel you in your time of fear and self-doubt. You are counting on you, but if that is not enough, those you love are counting on you, too.

7. Write Your Own Story

Have you ever gotten lost in a good book? Books tend to be better than most movies’ because books don’t have a budget. Movies are bound by the laws of science and technology. These laws don’t exist when you write a book. There is no discussion around how much those explosions cost or whether you can make something look real.

Indeed, books allow the author and the reader to both use their imagination. The author is putting their imagination on each page, and the reader uses their imagination to interpret the story. Your life is like being lost in a good book. Every day you wake up, you are writing another chapter. No one knows how the story is going to end, but how would you like it end? Do you want to be victorious because you were willing to dare to dream big, or do you want people to say you left with untapped potential?

Final Thoughts

Your life is the best gift the universe can give you, so don’t waste it. Be willing to dare to dream big and allow yourself to make mistakes. Things are not always going to go your way, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find a way overcome the challenges you face. Continue to strive to be a little better each day, and before you know it, you will be everything you thought you could be and more.

More Tips for Making Dreams Happen

Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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