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What Does It Mean to Live an Intentional Life?

As I begin to write this, I am wondering what you think of when you see the word intentional. Is it vague and slightly abstract? Is it coupled with some buzz words and phrases like simplicity, purpose, "slow-living", or the idea of forsaking autopilot? Or does that word land with clarity?

Could you tell the difference between intentional-living and slow-living? Are they the same or are they different? And if different, then how? Does intentional-living always require one to be minimalistic and simple?

Intentional-living is similar to slow-living, in the sense that you have to live slow enough to think and reflect to be intentional. And it is similar to simplicity in the sense that simplicity emphasizes what is important and helps you focus, but despite these similarities being intentional is not synonymous with any of them.

So what does it mean to live an intentional life?

I would like to go to the meaning of intention:

A thing intended; an aim or plan.

An intentional life assumes that you have goals and a vision for which you are aiming. You cannot live an intentional life without them. If you think that you are intentional without a goal/vision, you are not. I'll share more below.

Now, let's look at the definition of intentional:

Done on purpose; deliberate. (emphasis added)

You cannot have intentionality without doing (taking action) purposely on a goal, aim, or plan.

You can have actions and behaviors that seem intentional by default that are not technically intentionality. For example, saving. Saving seems to fall under the intentional category by default. You may hear people say they are intentionally saving or stewarding their money well. However, if one does not have an aim or purpose for the money like saving for emergencies or saving for a vacation, that money is as aimless as money spent without a plan. Money spent or money saved can be intentional when the behaviors are done in alignment with a vision or plan.

Intentionality is taking action on a goal or vision. Without vision there is no intentionality, even if someone would say the actions were wise. Wise behavior is like running on a treadmill. It's good activity that will get you some good results but you aren't necessarily going anywhere.

I would like to take a deeper look at intentionality by comparing and contrasting it to the words it is often paired with.

Intentionality vs. Slow-Living

Intentionality and slow living are similar in the way I mentioned previously, one must live life slow enough to think, reflect, ponder, and consider. If your life is operating at the speed that you do not have the time to really ask yourself, "What do I want?" then you cannot live intentionally. Moreover, you cannot live so fast that you cannot ask yourself "Is this STILL what I want?"

You can start on a path intentionally, but you need time to reflect to continue to live intentionally. I have found many times in my life that action brings clarity and increased self-knowledge and what I think I want at one time is not what I continue to want with increased clarity and knowledge.

Intentionality vs. Simplicity

Simplicity is similar to intentionality in the sense that it can aid us in narrowing our focus. It helps us have time back to pursue our goals. I have simplified my meal planning, my cleaning, and our toys. What I have found in that process is I have time and focus to pursue my goals. If life is overflowing and too complicated, it is challenging to be intentional.

Intentionality vs. Forsaking Autopilot

Intentionality is not 100% forsaking autopilot because that is not possible. A large percentage of our day is spent in automation and autopilot. It is what our brain does. It saves energy and creates habits. So it is not necessarily unintentional to live a percentage of your day in this way, however, the way I have attempted to live intentionally within autopilot is choosing habits I want to create and replacing bad habits. So, while I still do portions of my day without thinking, they are still habits I have designed. So with that said, at some point in time, we do have to forsake autopilot to be intentional. We are not trying to replace every habit at once but we do take the time to question if our habits are helping or hindering our goals.

One way this has manifested for me this year is I have totally revamped my phone habits so that I can feel more peaceful. I next-to-never check social media anymore. My social media usage now is to respond to those who comment on my posts and message me, or I get on to check specific accounts that lift me up but not random scrolling.

I hope this blog was informative enough to help you discern between wise/good behavior and intentionality because, while similar, they are still different. I hope you get greater clarity on your goals so you can live a more intentional life. Goals, intentionality, and "living your best life" can be buzzwords and phrases in the personal development world, almost to the point of losing meaning to some extent. Goals can be just the desire for things to be a little bit better than they are now. They can be for you to feel a little happier, more confident, or more in control in your life.

If you want help or assistance in this area, stay tuned for my life coaching launch in 2024! If you are interested in being a client, you can email me "wait list" at and I will get you on the list to be a client.

I hope you are blessed friend, I really do.


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