Living Life with Purpose
In today’s busy world full of distractions and a race to more and more material wealth, we often find that something is missing. No matter how hard we work, how much money we have in the bank, how big our house is, and how fancy of a car we drive, it never quite seems to be enough. That’s because we’re busy chasing the wrong things and focusing on the wrong stuff to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Living Life with Purpose is about helping you step out of this way of life and embracing one that will bring you happiness and fulfillment.
Does this mean that you have to give up your secure job with health benefits and your cosy home?
OF COURSE NOT!
It’s all about making small changes and shifts in both perception and action to bring more meaning to your life. Think of it as a short guide to help you figure out what it means to live more intentionally and figure out what this means for you.
What does being Intentional mean?
• Being Intentional Means Taking Control
When we live day to day without intention and purpose, we let life pass us by. Even worse, we let the things and people around us control us. When we start to become more intentional in what we do, we take back that control – we become the masters of our destiny again and it’s a very empowering feeling. It’s also one of the big reasons why living with intention increases self-confidence and happiness.
When you’re living more intentionally, you think about what you want to accomplish. For example, you decide that you want a closer and more loving relationship with your spouse. That’s going to take effort and work. You take control, put in the work and make it happen. This is how being intentional means taking control. You don’t just let life pass you by anymore and complain how your husband isn’t as loving and caring as before.
• Being Intentional Means Planning Your Life
In addition to taking control, living with more intention also gives you a chance to plan your life. That’s a pretty big deal and it can have some huge consequences over the course of a lifetime.
Let’s take being intentional in your finances as an example. If you know you want to be able to buy a nice house for you and your family you can start from the time you get your first paycheck. By making that plan and consistently saving a portion of your income, you’ll get there. But If you don’t live intentionally and save a portion of your income for the house, your money will be spent elsewhere.
Do you see how being intentional will benefit you in both short and long-term runs?
• Being Intentional Means Defining and Living Within Your Values
Living with a purpose encourages you to define your values.
To live with purpose, you have to know what’s important to you. To do that, you have to know what you value most. If you’re not quite sure where to start on this journey of living with more purpose, start by thinking about your core values.
Take a good look at each aspect of your life right now. Ask yourself if what you’re doing aligns with your core values. If it is, GREAT! If it isn’t, it’s time to make some changes. Maybe one of your core values is to have a very active role in raising your children If you’re currently working full time, putting in lots of extra hours to further your career this may encourage you to look into working less and spending more time at home while children are little.
• Being Intentional Means Living your Life with Purpose
Life is busy, time is short, but it’s also filled with things that distract us and take time away from us. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re not in the habit of living with purpose.
Once you make that shift, you become more intentional with everything you do. You have a purpose in mind and you get things done. This helps you get a lot more productive, but it also means you end up with plenty of time on your hands to do things that are important to you … and to do them with purpose.
• Being Intentional Means Making Good Choices
Another big benefit of living with purpose and being intentional is that you tend to make good choices. You don’t take action based on a gut jerk reaction. Instead, when you are being intentional and living life to the fullest, you tend to think things through and decide if the outcome is what you want. This, in turn, leads to making good choices.
Living with purpose and intention allows you to delay instant gratification and make the right choice for yourself in the long run. Sure, that pair of shoes would be nice to own, but being able to buy the house of your dreams is a whole lot nicer.
• Being Intentional Causes You to Improve Your Confidence
When you’re intentional in what you do, you tend to have an end goal in mind. You also plan along the way and are ready to take massive action. That, in turn, means that you don’t have time to worry and second guess yourself. When you don’t worry constantly, you get more confident.
Then as you start to take action and see that you’re making progress, you get this cycle of reinforced confidence going. You see progress which gives you self- confidence. The confidence, in turn, motivates you to keep going, which leads to more progress, which enforces your confidence… you see how this works. Your biggest job is to get the ball rolling and you to it by deciding to be more intentional in what you do.
How to Live Life with Purpose
• There Is No Magic Pill
When it comes to living your life with more intent and purpose, there is no magic pill to suddenly make it happen. There is no bright-red easy button. It takes work and dedication. It has, as the name suggests, to be done with purpose. In essence, what you’re doing is creating new habits. That takes time and energy, but it is time and energy well spent.
It’s also not all that complicated and the best news is that you can start small. Your job is simply to take action and do something, anything, to get started.
• Start Small to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
Another thing you need to realize that will make living life with purpose easier is that you can – and should – start small. You don’t have to change everything at once. Not every little thing you do has to be intentional or serve some bigger purpose, don’t get overwhelmed to the point where you don’t even start.
Yes, it’s good to have big goals. Yes, it’s great that you’re feeling ambitious and want to change the word. Just realize that it doesn’t have to be today. Today, focus on one small change, one improvement you can make. Break those lofty big goals down into baby steps and they will suddenly seem much more doable. Take it down to individual tasks and you’ll be well on your way to implementing real change.
• Make Intentional Choices Every Day
Changing how you live your life is all about creating new habits and getting rid of old ones that no longer serve you well. The key to making new habits is to make a choice to do things differently every single day. This also holds true for living with purpose and being more intentional.
Set aside a couple of minutes every morning to decide on what intentional choices you’ll make today. Before you know it, they will become habits and living life with purpose suddenly becomes effortless.
By making an effort to live with purpose every single day, it won’t take you long to create those new habits and effect a lot of positive change in a relatively short amount of times. Simply remind yourself every morning to do something positive and you’ll be well on your way to making living intentional part of your everyday life.
• Set Smart Goals
Goals are important because they guide us and give us direction. How we set those goals is important too though. A badly formulated goal can lead us astray.
You want to set smart goals that are specific, realistic and have a deadline. Don’t just say that you want a closer relationship with your daughter. Instead, make your goal to have a 10-minute chat with her every day for the next 30 days to make sure you’re part of each other’s lives.
It’s also helpful to have both short and long-term goals. For example, in the long run, your goal may be to grow and raise all the food you consume. That’s a great goal, but something that will take years to accomplish, particularly if you’re not currently set up for a small farming operation. A great short-term goal would be to raise enough vegetables to eat through the summer and start canning the excess this fall.
How can you break what you want to accomplish into smart goals?
• Think Before You Act
So often we simply act or react to the things around us. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and keep doing what we’re doing because that’s how we’ve always done it. Living with Purpose gives us a chance to break those routines. Before you do something that you want to be more intentional about, stop and think it through.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Is this the best way to do it?
- Will this get me closer to my goal?
- Should I do this in the first place? Does it align with my intentions?
- Is this the best use of my time and energy?The more you think about this, the better you’ll be able to formulate and implement your intentions.
• Pray or Meditate
To live more intentionally, you have to be clear about what you want to accomplish. One of the best ways to achieve that clarity is through meditation or prayer. Find a little quiet time to clear your mind and then pray or meditate on your intentions. With the clarity gained, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what you need to do. Your path will be clearer and be taking the right actions will become easier. It’s also a wonderful way to enforce helpful new habits.
It’s important to find something that works for you. If you’re comfortable in your faith and your particular form of prayer, use that. If that doesn’t work for you, look into some simple meditation techniques like breathing exercises. Don’t get hung up on a particular practice. Even just sitting quietly, letting your mind calm down,
and then thinking, or even daydreaming about your intentions will do you a lot of good. Make whatever you decide to practice work for you.
• Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is another great way to make sure you stay on track. Writing, like meditating, enforces what you’re trying to do and the process of writing things down can be a great way to clear your head and sort through obstacles and issue that may arise as you move along.
A journal will also help you hold yourself accountable and of course, it’s a great tool to stay motivated. Whenever you feel like you’re not making progress, spend a few minutes reading through past entries and see just how far you’ve come already. .
• Stop and Evaluate Frequently
Another good strategy is to stop every few weeks and evaluate if what you’re
doing is working for you.
Are you starting to see some results?
Is what you’re doing still aligning with your intentions and your purpose?
If it isn’t make some changes and create new habits until you find a new routine that works well for you and what you want to accomplish. You’ll get there and you’ll find your grove!
• Remind Yourself of Your “Why”
Until you’ve created those new routines and living intentionally has become an
integral part of your life, it’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing this.
Using a journal can be very helpful here.
An affirmative statement in the morning before you get started on your busy day is another good option.
You can even write your “why” down on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror.
Do whatever it takes to remind yourself why you want to change and the intentions behind it. It will keep you motivated to continue to create those new habits.
• Learn More About What You Want to Be Intentional About
It’s easy to be intentional about something when you first start out. Things are new and exciting. It’s easy to stay motivated and make those small changes you need to make. Then after a while, the excitement fades and with it some of your motivation and drive does too.
The best way to bring back that excitement is to immerse yourself in the topic and continue to learn something new. Read books on the topic, watch videos, take a course or class, read up on the topic online. Do what you can to keep learning and keep staying excited about the things you want to be intentional about.
For example, let’s say one of your intentions is to eat healthier and lose a few pounds. Keep looking up new recipes and diving into the latest nutritional science to stay interested and engaged. It will become much easier to stick to those new healthy eating habits when you do.
• Surround Yourself with Likeminded People
Another great strategy to help you turn those intentions into life-long habits is to surround yourself with likeminded people. Getting regular exercise is a lot easier when you join a class or a walking group. Eating better and losing weight becomes more fun and you’re much more likely to stick with it if you have a weight loss buddy or join a local group.
Join local groups, associations, or find online friends with the same interests so you can support each other, encourage each other, and learn from each other. Don’t underestimate the value of a strong support system.
Your YogaBellies sisters are always ready to listen. J • Do It Anyway
We all have days when we fell that we can’t do it. We all get down sometimes and second guess ourselves. We all make mistakes or don’t see the progress we were hoping to make. We all feel like we’re not good enough. It can be
discouraging and it can throw quite a roadblock into this journey of living a more purposeful life. Don’t let it stop you from living a life with purpose!
Take some action and do it even when you don’t feel it.
When you don’t feel like it – Do It Anyway! When you aren’t good at it – Do It Anyway! When you might make mistakes – Do It Anyway!
Here’s the amazing thing about “Doing it Anyway”. Once you get going, those doubts and negative feelings will start to fade away. You’ll be too busy to worry and second guess yourself. Staying on track and being intentional will become easier. The hardest part when you’re in a funk is to simply get started.
Pick something easy like drinking a glass of water, or something fun like calling a friend to chat. Do something, anything on that list of things you want to do today to move you closer to your goals. Get some momentum and before you know it, you’ll be trucking right along, more motivated than ever.
• Be Gracious and Forgiving with Yourself
It’s always important to be gracious and forgiving with yourself. We are all
people and we are going to make mistakes.
There will be days when we fall into old habits. There will be times when we do something completely counterproductive to our intentions. There will be times where we sabotage ourselves, and there will be days when we can’t get anything done at all. It happens, and beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help.
Be gracious and forgiving with yourself. Tomorrow is another day and you can start again. Vow to do better and move on. Don’t use this as an excuse to get lazy and never accomplish anything, but realize that you are not perfect and that it’s ok to fail sometimes.
• Notice Changes
Another important aspect of living life with purpose is paying attention to changes both in yourself and those around you. This is valuable for a couple of different reasons.
The first is that when you see change, you know that you’re making a difference. What you’re doing is having an effect, and that alone can be very motivating.
Noticing changes is also a good feedback mechanism. As you observe them, you get a chance to see if what you are doing with intent is having the desired results or not. If it does, great… keep going and even consider ramping it up. If it doesn’t, ask yourself why you’re seeing those changes. Try to get to the root of them, and then change your actions to see if you can get the intended results.
Let’s go back to the example of having a chat with your daughter over breakfast every morning. If your intent is to get closer and deepen your relationship, but instead you observe your daughter withdrawing, it’s time to have a second look. Maybe the setting is too formal. Maybe you’re being too pushy and asking too many questions, making her uncomfortable. Back off and try a gentler approach until you see positive changes in both of you that indicate that you are in fact getting closer.
• Review Your Intentions Regularly
Because things don’t always work the way we expect them too, and because
things change, it’s important to take time to review your intentions regularly.
Make a short list of what’s working and what you want to change. Write it on your journal, every day if you have to.
Remember, This Is a Journey
It’s something that takes time. It’s something that you build up to over time. It’s also something that will naturally evolve and change as you do.
Just like you take a journey of a thousand miles one step at a time, you take this journey one action, one intention, and one day at a time. Make those small changes. Keep working on them, keep adding to them, and keep living more and more with purpose and intent. Do that and it won’t take long for those small changes to add up to big changes.
Before you know it your life will change or the better and you’ll find that you have a bigger positive impact on your family, your friends, your community, and even the world at large than you thought possible at the beginning of this journey.
Don’t let that freak you out though. Don’t worry about those big changes and the potential impact what you want to do could have in the long run. Start small and start by taking that first step.
Above all, don’t forget to enjoy the journey you’re on!
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I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.
I believe Yoga is for everyone.