We can become the creators of the life we want by learning how to live our lives with intention.
When we feel anxious, uncertain, and we’re struggling to find our sense of control, many of us don’t know where to turn to find satisfaction and peace. We may even feel frustrated, disheartened, and angry that things aren’t going the way we want.
There’s so much that’s going on right now, and it’s hard to know what we can really “do” about any of it. We see the pain and discomfort in so many people. We may want to “fix” the hurt we see in others. We may want to protect our loved ones from the pandemic and the unrest we see in the world. We may feel angry and hurt about situations in our own life—our jobs, our health, our safety.
Unfortunately, we can’t control the actions of others, but we can control our reactions to the different circumstances we face. What we intend we create, and we are the creators of our own lives. We can create the life we want and maximize our satisfaction by learning to live life with intention.
What does it Mean to Live Intentionally?
What is important to me? What do I really want? What can I do to live a life of greater purpose?
No matter what’s going on around us, these are big questions. But right now, with so many of us feeling trapped and powerless, intentional living feels even harder to grasp. We may feel our choices are limited right now. We can’t fall into the routines and patterns that are comfortable. We can’t predict what is coming next. Our typical path to comfort is out of our reach.
What we CAN do is consciously set our intention to create the life we want. We are masters of our destiny. We create the lives we intend.
At a certain level, we always have an intention of what we’re doing. But we’re not always conscious or productive with our intention. After all, you may “intend” to get a snack when you go to the kitchen cupboard. When you eat that cookie, are you really carrying out your intention? Yes, but not necessarily with something that serves you in a fulfilling way. Every action you take is within your power.
Alfred Adler taught that all behavior has a purpose. It’s up to us to identify the purpose so we can understand and shape our behavior. We can be more conscious about what we want out of each interaction. When we’re conscious and aware—mindful—about each action, we create a great deal more satisfaction and fulfillment.
When we wander through life without consciously setting our intentions, we may be surprised at how fleeting moments become. Suddenly years have passed, and we’ve gone through the motions without awareness. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
Right now, when we’re living in this state of uncertainty, setting our intentions can feel daunting. After all, we’ve seen most events and plans get canceled. We’re still socially distancing as we tentatively adjust to the current reality. We’re not sure what the next few months will look like as the pandemic continues to play out. Will we go back to work in our offices? Will our jobs still exist? What about schools and our kids? How will our social lives look when we can’t hug our friends? If we’re single, how will we meet new people and date? What about the economy? What about the safety of our loved ones?
There are so many factors to comprehend that setting our intentions can feel challenging. But our best bet, as always, is to take each moment one step at a time.
Set Your Intentions for the Moment
When the big picture feels daunting, looking directly at what’s in front of us can help. For example, before going into a meeting with coworkers on Zoom, take a moment to set intentions for the meeting.
What do you hope to get out of the interaction? Do you want to have your boss notice you? Do you want to make a stronger connection with your coworkers? Do you wish to clarify action items for a project or address a concern? Set your intention before you pull up the screen and connect.
When we’re going a thousand different directions, we might “spend time” with our partner but find that we don’t really connect during the day. So when we do have a date or a period of time together, set an intention and even an agenda. It may sound strange but can help us address the important items we want to discuss.
Setting an intention helps us maximize our time together and we leave feeling closer and more focused. Rather than just rushing through our day, we can make that time precious and meaningful.
Even seemingly mundane activities benefit from intention. When you make dinner for example—what is your intention? Do you want to prepare a nourishing meal? Do you want dinner to become a break, where you connect with your family? If you’re eating alone, can you really connect with your food? What if rather than tapping your phone while you eat, you ponder the flavors and textures of your meal? What if you think of the way the food is fueling your body, you stretch, and you feel all your feelings, physical and emotional?
When you get ready for the day, what if you set an intention to evoke a mood or capture a certain feeling? What if you dress with the intention to feel confident and self-assured? What if you dress to feel your best? To get noticed by others? To attract compliments? To feel empowered and poised?
Putting intention into your day-to-day activities can help you find more meaning. Intention helps you approach your actions mindfully and with greater certainty: What do I want to get out of this situation? What am I going to do to make that happen?
Maximizing Your Connections with Others
Right now, as we’re all feeling distant and removed from familiar situations, mindfully fostering our sense of connectedness is even more critical for our wellbeing. Many couples and families are spending a great deal of time together, but it’s challenging. We may feel like we’re “stuck” together—we’re all floating around in the same space, but we’re not really connected.
We can find ways to talk about our feelings. It doesn’t need to be intense or complicated, either. We can make a game out of sharing. For example, play a “feelings” game at dinner with family members. Each person goes around and says, “Today I felt sad about this,” or, “Today I felt joyful about that.” Activities like this make dinner feel intentional. Everyone shares, and everyone walks away feeling a little better after.
It can also be helpful to write down our intentions and our plan. This is something we’ve used when we help people with networking. Set a mini-goal before the event like, “I’m going to make three comments during this virtual gathering.” When we write it down, it helps solidify our intentions and keeps them at the forefront of our minds.
Bringing more intention into our day-to-day activities doesn’t need to be a profound, sweeping change or an arduous task. We can make incremental efforts to set our intentions before we work out, cook, watch a television program, or listen to music. What do we want to get from the experience? What do we intend?
Take the challenge to set your intention for your next activity and see what happens. Reflect afterward—did you feel more confident? Did you connect more with others? Was it a more satisfying experience? Did you feel a greater sense of purpose?
For more ways to bring meaning and purpose to your life, we’ve put together many of our courses available online at Wright Now. We’re happy to offer these fantastic resources to help you live a life of more.