Or maybe we should call it post-2020? In any case, when the new decade of 2020 started we started noticing a huge shift where more people than ever were talking about ditching new year resolutions and working toward new habits and new intentional living.
Yearly declarations are thousands of years old and started with ancient Babylonians pledging to do better in the future by paying what they owe and returning what they borrowed. The tradition was also part of New Year celebrations in Roman times, when people made pledges and sacrifices to their gods for the coming year. Resolutions are a part of many different cultures throughout history.
In our culture today, it’s often a grandiose announcement of self-improvement that we say we’re going to keep. But did you know that only about eight percent of people that make New Year’s Resolutions accomplish them? Eight percent. It seems we’re not very good at keeping these types of promises to ourselves. The odds aren't good.
But maybe they’re not even promises. Maybe they’re more like perceived obligations to be something or do something that we have no actual intention of doing or being. And so we make a fleeting claim that we’ll exercise more, or eat better, or lose weight because those can be good things and for that short moment, it makes us feel good. Let's ditch the resolutions and make way for intentional living?
What even is intentional living? Glad you asked. Here's 13 ways to live more intentionally everyday. If we missed one that you practice, hit us up! We'd love to add it to the list.
Spend time in silence, prayer, or meditation daily.
Sleep well, breathe deep and give your body the nourishment and oxygen it needs to be at its fullest potential. Make it a priority and make it a lifestyle, not a diet or exercise plan.
Be intentional. Take time to explore the areas of your life that bring you the most joy. What do you love? What are your gifts? What do you want your legacy to be? Think about those things and decide what you want to do in life; live it without regrets, no matter your age. MAKE A LIST and what it’ll take to get you there. Then with intention, take one step toward adding those things to your life. If it’s a class to take, take it. If it’s a book to read, read it. If it’s a story to write, song to sing, instrument to play or dream to fulfill, push any thoughts of fear or self-doubt aside and DO them–you’re amazing, you’ve got this, even if it’s one step at a time.
Be mindful of your thoughts. If you start thinking in ways that go against the vision you know is right for your life, train your brain to take those thoughts, no matter how often, and purposefully contradict them with what you know is true. Speak truth to yourself and your mind will follow.
Social media preys on this almost instinctual aspect of people. Don’t play into it. You are you; perfectly made, perfectly beautiful, perfectly amazing. There’s no other you–own it and don’t try to be anyone else. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evolve, and grow, and change–but not by comparing yourself to others. Instead, love who you are with all your quirks and wonderfulness. Be intentional about celebrating not only your accomplishments, but the accomplishments and success of others. Honestly be happy for people. Want for their good and be thrilled for their blessings; life isn’t a competition.
Every day is new. Be purposeful in waking each morning with that truth. Bank wonderful memories and learn from mistakes without dwelling on them.
Be kind, generous and help people; make it a part of how you live. Generosity can take many forms—more than just giving money. You can give time or resources too. I know a woman who realized her daughter’s 18-year-old friend couldn’t read well–at all. She didn’t have much money, but she had knowledge. She asked if he’d like her help and long story short, with time and work, he learned to read within the year. Think of the impact that had on his life.
Use words carefully and with purpose because they’re powerful. Words have an effect on what we accomplish, how we think, and how others view us. The things we say also affects the people around us. The adage, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is completely untrue. Destructive words, destroy. Uplifting, encouraging, and truthful words bring life. That doesn’t mean we can’t say the hard things (in fact, we should when the time calls for it), but it should be done with purpose, intent and by choosing words wisely.
A life of thankfulness is a life of joy. Train yourself to pay attention to what you’re thankful for. Most things in our culture point to the negative—it takes up almost all of the news and is the focus of most gossip. Purposefully go against the grain and bring gratitude to the table. That doesn’t mean you need to be a Pollyanna and pretend everything is great all the time. Some things are hard, even horrible. It’s okay to know if a situation sucks and it’s okay to talk about it or even vent about it, but don’t stay there—the overall focus of our lives should be intentioned with gratefulness.
Spend time on purpose. Spend it with the people you love, doing the things you love.
Forgive others, forgive yourself. Do this for yourself.
BE SILLY and don’t take yourself too seriously. Live with the ability to laugh (like a real, hearty, belly laugh) and find humor in even tough situations. The things laughter does to our physiology is real and healthy. Laughter is the best medicine and it’s also incredibly fun.
Release what doesn’t serve you well, and purge what’s inhibiting you from where you’ve intentionally set out to be in life. Some things just create confusing noise. If it’s stuff, give it away. If it’s an activity, curb it. If it’s people, respectfully create boundaries. This one takes a lot of thought, wisdom and time. It’s worth it. Creating this space in your life, your mind, and calendar allows for the growth of the things you’ve purposed to do.
There’s about a million other ways to live your life intentionally; we’re all different, with different core beliefs and values, so the ways we go about it doesn’t always have to look the same. The important part is to actively seek a life lived with purpose, and then live it. This can apply to birth, fertility, parenting, partnership and so much more.
We’d love to hear the ways you accomplish an intentionally lived life.