How To Start Living With Intention and Put Yourself First

Settle for what you deserve

Living a meaningful life is essential for your overall well-being and happiness. When you live with intention, you are more likely to experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. You are able to make choices that align with your values and priorities, which leads to a greater sense of purpose and direction.

What does it mean to live with intention?

Living with intention basically means being deliberate and purposeful in your actions and choices. It involves being aware of your values, priorities, and goals and making decisions that align with them. It means living in the present moment and being fully engaged in whatever you are doing. It allows you to focus on what truly matters and make choices that will bring you closer to your desired outcomes.

Examples of intentional living can vary from person to person, as it is a highly individualised concept. For some, it may mean prioritising self-care and setting boundaries to protect their well-being. For others, it may involve pursuing a career or hobby that brings them joy and fulfilment. It can also mean cultivating meaningful relationships and connections or making choices that align with one's values, such as living a sustainable lifestyle or giving back to the community.

The benefits of living a meaningful life

Living a meaningful life has numerous benefits for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When you live with intention, you are more likely to experience improved mental and physical health, increased happiness and fulfilment, stronger relationships and connections, and a greater sense of purpose and direction.

By being intentional about your choices and actions, you are more likely to experience a sense of control over your life. This can lead to reduced stress and anxiety as you are actively working towards your goals and priorities.

Most importantly, you are more likely to have a clear sense of what you want to achieve in life.

How to identify your values and priorities

Your values are the principles and beliefs that guide your behaviour and decision-making. They are the things that are most important to you and reflect what you stand for. Your priorities are the areas of your life that you want to focus on and invest your time and energy into.

Knowing your values and priorities allows you to make choices that align with them and create a life that is in line with your authentic selves. It helps you prioritise and and make decisions that bring you closer to your desired outcomes.

There are several methods for identifying your values and priorities.

Reflect on your experiences.

Think about the times when you felt most fulfilled, satisfied, and happy. What were the underlying values or priorities that were being met in those moments? For example, if you felt most fulfilled when you were helping others, then one of your values might be compassion or service.

Consider what is important to you.

Take some time to think about what truly matters to you in life. What do you want to achieve? What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of relationships do you want to have? These questions can help you identify your core values and priorities.

Pay attention to your emotions.

Notice how you feel in different situations. When do you feel most aligned and at peace? When do you feel a sense of conflict or discomfort? Your emotions can provide clues about what your priorities are.

Evaluate your actions.

Look at how you spend your time, energy, and resources. Are they aligned with your values and priorities? If not, it may be a sign that there is a disconnect between what you say and how you are actually living your life.

Seek feedback from others.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to get input from trusted friends, family members, or mentors who know you well. They may be able to provide insights or observations about what they see as your values and priorities.

Identifying your values and priorities is a personal process, and it may take time and reflection to fully understand them. However, values and priorities can change over time as well as we grow and evolve as individuals.

Setting goals and creating a plan for your life.

Once you have identified your values and priorities, the next step is to set goals and create a plan. Setting goals allows you to have a clear direction and purpose in life. It gives you something to work towards and provides a sense of motivation and focus.

When setting goals, you should make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This means that your goals should be clear and well-defined, have a way to measure progress, be realistic and attainable, align with your values and priorities, and have a deadline for completion.

Creating a plan for your life involves breaking down your goals into smaller, actionable steps. This allows you to have a roadmap that guides you towards your desired outcomes. It helps you stay focused and motivated and provides a sense of direction and purpose.

Personal Development:

Read at least one book per month to expand your knowledge and perspective.

Attend workshops and seminars to enhance your skills and learn new ones.

Practise self-reflection and mindfulness to improve self-awareness.

Set aside time for hobbies and interests to maintain a balanced life.

Career:

Identify long-term career goals and create a roadmap to achieve them.

Continuously update skills through professional development courses.

Seek mentorship opportunities to gain guidance and insights from experienced professionals.

Network with industry peers to expand professional connections.

Health and Wellness:

Establish a regular exercise routine to maintain physical fitness.

Eat a balanced diet with an emphasis on nutritious foods.

Prioritise mental health by practising stress management techniques, such as meditation or journaling.

Get regular check-ups and screenings to monitor your overall health.

Relationships:

Cultivate meaningful relationships with family and friends by spending quality time together.

Communicate openly and honestly in all relationships, resolving conflicts constructively.

Support loved ones goals and aspirations.

Build new connections by joining social or professional groups.

Financial Stability:

Create a budget to manage expenses effectively and save for future goals.

Invest in long-term financial planning, such as retirement funds or real estate.

Seek financial advice from professionals to make informed decisions.

Continuously educate yourself about personal finance to make wise financial choices.

Contribution to Society:

Volunteer for causes that align with your personal values and passions.

Donate time, resources, or skills to organisations making a positive impact.

Advocate for social justice issues through awareness campaigns or activism.

Engage in sustainable practises to protect the environment.

Work-Life Balance:

Set boundaries between work and personal life to maintain a healthy balance.

Prioritise self-care activities, such as hobbies, relaxation, or spending time with loved ones.

Delegate tasks when possible to avoid burnout.

Take regular vacations or breaks to recharge and rejuvenate.

Continuous Learning:

Stay updated with industry trends and advancements through online courses or webinars.

Attend conferences or workshops to gain new knowledge and skills.

Engage in lifelong learning by exploring new subjects or hobbies outside of your professional interests.

Seek feedback from mentors or peers to identify areas for improvement.

Goal Tracking and Evaluation:

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

Regularly review progress towards goals and make necessary adjustments.

Celebrate achievements along the way to stay motivated.

Seek feedback from trusted individuals to gain different perspectives on progress.

Adaptability and Resilience:

Embrace change as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Develop problem-solving skills to overcome obstacles.

Cultivate a positive mindset to navigate challenges effectively.

Practise self-compassion and resilience during setbacks.

Overcoming obstacles and staying motivated

Living with intention is not always easy, and there will inevitably be obstacles and challenges along the way. You should try and anticipate these obstacles and have strategies in place for overcoming them.

Common obstacles include fear, self-doubt, a lack of motivation, and external pressures. Fear and self-doubt can hold you back from taking risks and pursuing your goals and dreams. Lack of motivation can make it difficult to stay focused and committed to your intentions. External pressures, such as societal expectations or the opinions of others, can influence your choices and lead you away from living in alignment with our values and priorities.

Being aware of your fears and self-doubts allows you to challenge them and take action despite them. Practising self-compassion helps you be kind and understanding towards yourself when you face setbacks or challenges.

It is also helpful to surround yourself with a supportive community of like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement and accountability. Having a support system can make it easier to stay motivated and committed to living with intention.

The importance of self-reflection and mindfulness

Self-reflection and mindfulness are essential practises for living with intention. Self-reflection involves taking the time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It allows you to gain insights into yourself and your behaviours and helps you make conscious choices that align with your values and priorities.

Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgement. It allows you to cultivate a sense of awareness and presence and helps you make intentional choices and actions.

Practising self-reflection and mindfulness can have numerous benefits for your mental and emotional well-being. It can help you reduce stress and anxiety, improve your focus and concentration, and enhance your overall sense of well-being.

A few ways to practise self-reflection and mindfulness:

Journaling
Meditation 
Deep breathing

Building meaningful relationships and connections

We as humans are social beings, and having strong and supportive relationships is essential for your overall well-being and happiness. When you prioritise connection and invest time and energy into building and maintaining relationships, you are more likely to experience a sense of belonging and fulfilment. Meaningful relationships provide you with emotional support, companionship, and a sense of purpose.

Instead of trying to have a large number of superficial connections, focus on cultivating a few deep and meaningful relationships. This involves investing time and energy into building trust, communication, and shared experiences.

Try and be authentic and vulnerable in your relationships. Being open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences allows for deeper connections and fosters a sense of trust and intimacy.

Finding purpose and fulfillment in your career

Our careers take up a significant portion of our lives, so it is very beneficial to find work that aligns with your values and brings you joy and satisfaction. Try and reflect on your skills, interests, and values. What are you passionate about? What are your strengths and talents? What kind of impact do you want to make in the world? By answering these questions, you can gain clarity about what kind of work aligns with your values and priorities.

Try and be open to new opportunities and take risks. Sometimes, finding purpose and fulfilment in your career requires stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things. This may involve changing careers, starting a business, or pursuing further education or training.

Embracing gratitude and positivity

Gratitude involves acknowledging and appreciating the good things in your life, while positivity involves cultivating a positive mindset and focusing on the positive.

Practising gratitude and positivity can have numerous benefits for your mental and emotional well-being. It can help you to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood and outlook on life, and enhance your overall sense of well-being.

Two of my favourite techniques for practising gratitude and positivity are keeping a gratitude journal, where we write down things we are grateful for each day, engaging in positive self-talk, and reframing negative thoughts can help you cultivate a positive mindset.

Living with intention: a lifelong journey

Living with intention is not a one-time event but rather a lifelong journey. It requires ongoing self-reflection, self-awareness, and commitment to living in alignment with our values and priorities.

Regularly reassess your values and priorities as you grow and evolve. What was important to you in the past may not be as important to you now, and that is okay. By regularly checking in with yourself and reflecting on your goals, you can ensure that you are living in alignment with your authentic self.

Life is unpredictable, and there will inevitably be changes and challenges along the way. Be open to new opportunities and to adjust your plans and goals as needed.

Don't settle for less; settle for the best, start living your life with intention, and reach your personal goals. Start putting yourself first and make a start on your road map to success.

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