How to Be More Intentional in Your Career and Life
An intentional lifestyle involves defining our priorities, getting clear on what we want from life, and living each day in alignment with them.
Simply put, living intentionally means deciding what you want from life and pursuing it.
In today’s fast-paced world, though, we are all overstretched and juggling “everything.” Therefore, it is not surprising that intentional living is gaining popularity.
By seeking a life of purpose, direction, clarity, peace, and joy, we are instead chasing our tails and struggling in the fast lane. It’s about living life on our own terms rather than being controlled by our schedules or checklists.
“Thinking in terms of longevity and your own sustainability,” adds Thema Bryant, president of the American Psychological Association. “Sometimes we are so driven to accumulate more, or get the promotion that we are not paying attention to our future self.”
It’s a recipe for burnout. As a result, our own bodies fail us. “Sometimes we end up physically or emotionally not being able to maintain that pace.”
“You want to be intentional and not just want a temporary success where you are going to pull this all-nighter to turn in this amazing report tomorrow,” Bryant says. “You want longevity in your success.”
“Think: ‘How can I create a pace I can maintain and not miss out on my life where I’ve given everything away, my time, my energy, my focus. Where I’ve neglected my health or relationship,’” she suggests.
“Even for those who are stretched thin, you depend on you, and you have a family depending on you, and when we run ourselves into a hole, it just doesn’t work in the long run,” states Bryant. “It’s import to find small ways or short ways to create rituals of care.”
1. Be strategic.
The more intentional you are with your time, energy, and focus, the more likely you will achieve the desired outcome. In addition, by being intentional with your time, you can maintain a clear daily routine that supports your goals.
The more direction and purpose you have, the easier it is to invest your time and attention in the right places. As a result, you’re more creative and productive since your time is aligned with your bigger purpose.
Without an intentional focus, you may feel stuck and spend your time on unimportant activities. Moreover, you can easily get distracted if you take on too much without intention.
To make your day more effective, identify the three activities that will lead to the desired results. As a result, you will feel proud of what you’ve achieved, boosting your self-esteem and confidence.
When you commit to what you want, your actions will line up with your goals, and your time will be spent on the things that matter most to you.
Simply put, get crystal clear on what you want and act accordingly.
Bonus tip. Writing your intentions on paper rather than in your head or on your phone has also been proven to improve your memory and focus your attention.
2. Use social media and entertainment responsibly.
We consume a lot of content every day, whether on social media — whether it’s on Netflix, Spotify, or Instagram. As a matter of fact, in 2022, US adults spent 13 hours and 11 minutes with media.
On the one hand, consuming media for that long isn’t all bad. After all, discovering new ideas and stories that inspire you can be very rewarding. Even better if it’s building stronger relationships with the people who matter to you
However, it can waste your time if you don’t approach media this way. As a result, you may feel more anxious and insecure as you compare yourself to others.
Take responsibility for your social media use by making mindful and deliberate choices. You should also do the same with television, Netflix, email, blogs, a smartphone, and any other technology you use.
By determining the purpose of your media use, you can set boundaries. If it doesn’t serve your needs, reduce your time spent on it.
Also, we consume a lot of negative content. As such, negative news or drama on the internet makes it easy to be influenced. So instead, read or watch content that positively impacts your well-being or inspires you.
And don’t compare your life with Instagram’s perfectly curated images. Instead, take action instead of just talking about it. Take the time to view uplifting and helpful content, regardless of the platform you’re using.
3. Be intentional, not perfect.
An intention serves as a compass that guides you to your end goal by providing the right direction on a map. Do your best, but don’t be perfect. Instead, be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable.
As Simon Sinek says, “The goal is not to be perfect by the end. The goal is to be better today.”
4. Conduct a brain release.
Prepare a weekly list of all the things you need to accomplish. For example, you might need to send specific emails, make calls, pay bills, or write a blog post. So put anything you need to accomplish in the next week.
The next step? Categorize each item into one of the four Covey Quadrants, focusing on what is essential and what is urgent.
To be successful, determining which tasks are “important” is crucial. Any task that is not meaningful should be delegated or removed.
Initially, this might be a challenge. If you answer the following questions honestly, however, this can make this easier:
To regain time, you need to put tasks in the appropriate quadrants. From there, you can trim yourto-do list so that it only contains your priorities.
5 Rethink meetings.
Instead of just holding meetings to meet needs and projects, make meetings with a purpose and goals that align with your values.
Let’s say your organization values innovation. It may be beneficial for your team to have a two-hour innovation meeting monthly to create the space and time needed to make this happen. Then, each person can slot in any topic they wish to discuss with the rest of the team.
Make sure your meetings are structured to give you time to discuss values that matter to you.
6. Do not pursue a work-life balance.
Your eyes aren’t fooling you.
Your day-to-day work will inevitably spill over into your personal life, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a rising star in the corporate world. As such, making sacrifices is inevitable if you want to be successful.
In their book The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan write, “Knowing when to pursue the middle and when to pursue the extremes is, in essence, the true beginning of wisdom.” In their opinion, magic, creativity, and success rarely occur in the middle. Instead, they usually occur near the edge of sanity, at the extreme.
Pushing ourselves into the sharp corners of our lives is what refines us by fire and makes us successful. But, unfortunately, we can’t always manage ourselves without burning out.
Although I do not advocate burnout, don’t be afraid to explore the extreme — just don’t make it your home. It won’t take you long to venture over to the other side and start taking care of yourself. Eventually, you’ll focus more on work and repeat the pattern of cultivating each block of your life over the next few weeks, months, or years.
According to Keller and Papasan, living in the middle will prevent you from making an “extraordinary time commitment to anything.” Let that phrase sink in. How does that affect you?
7. Spend your time wisely.
A person’s time is their most valuable asset. Unfortunately, in addition to being one of our most limited resources, it is also one of the most mishandled and wasted.
Avoid taking on too much, stretching yourself too thin, overbooking or double booking yourself, and saying ‘yes’ to things when you’d rather say ‘no.’ Instead, plan your time and spend it on things that matter to you.
8. Manage your finances carefully.
When we’re bored or need a quick pick-me-up, we might be tempted to go on a spending spree. Becoming intentional, however, can also help you save money.
Obviously, everybody needs to go shopping for essentials, like groceries. And sometimes, it feels great to treat yourself. Don’t overspend, however. You shouldn’t waste your money on things you don’t need that will add clutter or deplete your bank account.
9. Be mindful of your most important relationships.
Bringing deeper meaning to your most important relationships through intentionality increases their value—a sense of gratitude, abundance, and self-awareness results from appreciating your most important relationships.
Every relationship has a purpose and importance, and this helps you understand them. Relationships make you happier and more joyful when you appreciate their importance.
Additionally, the more gratitude you express for someone, the more valuable they become in your life. By defining your goals for a relationship, you will be clear about what you hope to achieve.
The fact that you are present in communication with the people who matter shows how important they are to you, as does showing them respect, like not wasting their precious time.
10. How do you define success?
The definition of success varies from person to person. A job, financial freedom, finding true love, or just landing the job you’ve always wanted are some of the things people strive for.
How will you define success? You can map out your path to success, recognize it once you achieve it, and define what success means.
11. Give your colleagues more micro-recognitions.
What’s a ‘micro-recognition?’ It’s a quick message you send to your colleague on Slack to congratulate them for their presentation or thank them for sending you a link.
This informal, synchronous moment of praise or gratitude boosts our intrinsic motivation and makes us work harder.
12. Take a mindfulness break.
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking more breaks will help you accomplish more. So for your energy to return, it’s imperative that you take breaks.
However, don’t waste that break being glued to your phone. This isn’t the time for social media scrolling. Instead, it’s a chance to relax your brain. Consider taking a walk, talking to a friend, stretching, eating (away from your desk), or taking deep breaths for a break. By doing so, you will gain clarity and gain a new perspective.
13. Remove visual clutter.
Having a cluttered space can make you feel restless and uneasy. With so many things competing for your attention, it’s difficult to focus.
Clutter thresholds vary depending on how much a person can tolerate without feeling overwhelmed.
There may even be a physical cost.
Scientific evidence suggests that clutter may increase cortisol levels. As a result of clutter, your body releases a stress hormone.
In short.y ou will feel calmer and more relaxed when your visual clutter is cleared.
When you live an intentional life, you don’t have to overhaul your whole life or start from scratch. Best of all? Lisa Olivera, therapist and author of “Already Enough: A Path to Self-Acceptance,” says you can incorporate intentionality into your everyday activities.
According to her, here’s how:
15. Schedule time for self-care and self-reflection.
So often, we put ourselves last on our priority list. Instead, take time for yourself regularly. The result will be a stronger and better you. Among other things, you will be more able to handle the daily rigors of life and ready for any new opportunities that may arise in the future.
Intentional living also involves self-care and self-reflection. It encourages us to focus on ourselves rather than the world around us. To live a meaningful, intentional (deliberate) life, we must pay attention to what happens on the inside (our inner environments) as well as the outside (our outer environments).
Image Credit: Bahaa A. Shawqi; Pexels; Thank you!