At the start of this year, many of us chose a word that would define the next 12 months. These ranged from organise, creative, kindness – anything that you wanted to represent how you were going to live your life. The aim of this is simple. Instead of listing a set of goals you want to complete, pick one word instead that you can focus on every day.
I didn’t initially take part in this challenge, but one of my aims for 2015 was to live more intentionally. To live on purpose, in the moment and be present. For the first couple of months of the year, this was exactly what happened. But then things changed. I became a person I used to be - always thinking about what I had to do and focusing on the future, instead of living for now.
Can you relate? It’s actually quite difficult to live intentionally. You have to be purposeful and work hard to live your life that way. You have to take intentional steps that are going to get you to where you ultimately want to be. When you’re in a moment, you let yourself be in that moment and nowhere else, not even a few hours ahead.
Without being intentional, we would simply float through life with no purpose, going down different paths. When you’re living intentionally, you’re playing an active part in your own journey.
Now, I’m not just saying all these nice words to try and convince you that you can do this. You may have tried, but when obstacles crop up in life like they always do, things change.
There’s still almost four months left of 2015. Are you going to live intentionally with me?
I’ve been thinking about some ways I can be intentional now for the rest of the year and today, I’m sharing them with you. If you want, you can join me in doing these things and go from wishing things in your life were better, to actually understanding the power you have to create positive change in your life.
#1 Start each day with being grateful
You’ll have heard this before, I’ve no doubt about it. Starting your day with gratefulness is the best way to transform your outlook. No matter how bad things are for you right now, this forces you to recognise the good in your life. Every morning, write down three things you’re grateful for. They can be anything, and they can be as deep or as simple as possible. Some days I write things with a deeper meaning. The other day I wrote a warm bed, my dressing gown and cups of tea. It might seem simple, but you’ll remember what you’ve written throughout the day and it will put a smile on your face.
Tom, my lovely other half, has been feeling lost lately. I said for him to try out writing down three things he was grateful for every morning like I do. He’s only been doing it for just over a week and I can see a difference in him already.
There have been times when I’ve felt like I’ve not fully appreciated everything I have in life. Starting your day with gratitude allows you to see just how much you have to be grateful for, even in the darkest of times. It really is the most powerful and meaningful way to start your day.
Now, I don’t just mean writing about your day here. Really journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings, dreams and wishes. Write about your life. Fill the pages of your journal with pictures and memories. Create something to look back on year after year. Celebrate your life and your successes.
At the end of each day, I write down everything that has gone well in that day and everything that has made me smile. They can be big achievements, little achievements or even as something as simple as laughing at a funny joke.
It’s hard to turn journaling into a habit. At the start of the year, I could go for weeks without writing and now when that happens, I feel really guilty. But once you start, you’ll want to document every day. Your journal allows you to write down everything and truly live with intention.
#3 Worship your body
Whatever works for your body – do it. Whether it’s running for miles, or walking, doing high intensity interval training or yoga. Work your body and listen to it. Feed it with good energy and build it. Exercise time doesn’t have to be done ‘just because.’ It can be you time or social time.
As for me, I come home after work every day and exercise. I don’t do it in the morning, because I know I’m so much more focused after my day job is done. I know that my body is what I’m going to focus on and I can give it 100% of my attention. If you prefer doing it in the morning, great. You can use that time to think about your day ahead and consider what you’ve got coming up. If you prefer to work out in the evening, you can reflect on your day or simply be in the moment and enjoy the silence, the beat of your heart and your feet pounding on the ground.
Push yourself, but don’t push yourself too far. Do what works for your body and what works for you. Just let it come naturally.
#4 Write down your daily actions…
…the night before. It’s all about prioritising, which I know many of you struggle with. But you want to spend your time working on the things that are of the most importance to you. The things that are going to take you further. What is important for you to do today that will take you further to where you want to be tomorrow?
I know there are always things on your master to do list that you have to get done. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with a master to do list!) The things on this list are fine to work on as and when – but if they aren’t a priority then don’t include them as one.
Pick three to four things every day that you’d like to complete. If you work full-time or study full-time, you can make two lists, one for your day job and one for your blog.
If you prioritise things not only by level of importance, but also what means most to you and what you’ll enjoy, you’ll soon find that you start to complete tasks in a shorter amount of time and more successfully.
#5 Review your daily actions and rewrite the list
This can be combined with writing what went well for you today in your journal. You can keep your master list close by and re-evaluate your list and refresh it for the next day. Keeping everything on your list at all times keeps them there as reminders and stops you from getting side tracked. If you give something your attention, more often than not, it’ll get done.
A Final Note…
Being intentional starts and ends with you. You can live your life passively or actively. Which one will you choose?
I’d love to know, will you be joining me in living intentionally for the next four months?
ARE YOU A DREAM CHASER? A GO GETTER? JOIN THE TRIBE OF PEOPLE WANTING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THEIR LIVES TODAY