5 Ways to Live with Intention

“What are your intentions with my daughter?” You’ve heard the father ask this question of potential suitors in countless TV shows and movies. Basically, he wants to know if the guy’s gonna treat his girl well and put a ring on it or what?! But I have yet to see a show or movie where the heroine asks herself, “What are my intentions for me?”

In our lives it’s time to live with the intention of treating ourselves well. The strength of the commitment you make to yourself determines how your life will turn out. We are in it for the long run. Setting intentions for yourself is an important step, but it’s not the last one. It’s like setting the table for your life. And, while I like a Pinterest-worthy place setting as much as the next girl, living with intention means actually eating at that table.

You may say you want to live a life of health and wellness, but if you’re also getting lit every weekend, you’re only cheating yourself. Of course, you can value whatever you want. If you value partying and boozing, then own that. But if you truly value health and wellness, then your life should have more juice than gin in it. Not every day has to be a juice day. And there’s definitely a time and a place to sip on gin and juice. But decide what kind of life will make you proud, and let that determine what you order to drink, because that drink will affect your future.

The way you choose to fill every day and exert your energy will determine your life’s direction. Where you end up next year or in ten years is determined by the choices you make now. Here’s how to set intentions and live by them.

1. Define your values

It’s important to speak your truth, find your purpose, and not compare yourself to others. It’s okay if you’ve never thought to define your calling or question your contribution to the greater good. Today is as good a day as any to start asking yourself: “Why?” As in, beyond the day-to-day desire for success: “Why do you do what you do?

2. Make choices that move you closer to your goals

This means you’ll stay focused but be open to learning and changing. If you value commitment enough to expect it from others, then you should be taking your commitment to yourself seriously. Are you committed to your values and your goals? If so, do you act committed to them? If not, how can you expect anyone else to be?

3. Decide your own legacy

Will you have a legacy? You don’t need to come up with a groundbreaking scientific discovery or win a Grammy to have a legacy. Maybe you established an innovative new process at your company or a thriving community garden in your neighborhood. What do you want to be known as—whether it’s to the world, or to your future two-year-old?

4. Think about your purpose

What makes you cry? Think, “My purpose is . . .” and then start writing anything that comes to mind. Keep going. When you find yourself tearing up—ding ding ding! You’ve found it. Then, get after it. After all, a purpose without a plan is just a prayer.

5. Ask yourself how you want to be remembered

This might seem a little dark, but connecting with yourself existentially will help you to prioritize and gain perspective. Do you hear “She was a member of Congress who fought for women’s rights”? Well, are you in Congress or planning to run at some point? Which rights are you fighting for?

We get asked what we do or ask someone else the same question at least, what, once a day? Instead of thinking of your “what,” start to think about your “why.” Finding your “why” will help to carry you through times when the “how” feels like a puzzle. It has with me. Do you ever get so frustrated that you hear yourself say “How am I going to do that?!” or “What am I going to do?” out loud? I do. But I find that when I shift from “how” and “what” to “why”, the questions become easier to answer and the answers become tougher to question.”

Finding your “why” will help to carry you through times when the “how” feels like a puzzle. Share on X

A version of this article was originally published on Thrive.


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