Intentional living has always been a nebulous concept for me. What does it mean? Isn’t everything I do driven by intention at some point? When do I cross the ethereal threshold of living an “intentional” life?
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve come to believe that our overall motives matter more than each decision we make during the day. There’s no need to stress about every decision we’re faced with. Coming up with an arbitrary system of “conscious decisions” kind of defeats the purpose. I’ve found that living an intentional life means living the life you want to live. That simple. Living life in accordance with your values and beliefs. Living life based upon the standards and expectations you set for yourself and not to please others.
Focus on Things You’re Passionate About
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: passion is important. So many of us have things that we love, things that make us feel alive. Putting priorities on your passions brings a sense of fulfillment that can’t be beat. And if you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily have a clear “passion,” then take the time to explore what it might be.
I genuinely believe all of us are here for a purpose, whether by divine mandate or cosmic happenstance. Find what that purpose is. And when you do, give it your all. For me, it’s writing. I discovered my love for words and storytelling when I was thirteen and I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a tough road with a lot of rejection (and more to come), not to mention the stress of actually believing in myself enough to go for writing as a career. But it’s been infinitely worth it.
It’s amazing how the human race fits together like fine latticework. Our skills and talents, likes and dislikes, when put together they comprise the whole picture. We really are greater than the sum of our parts. What we do with our lives should be more than a career or job choice, it should be a small piece of that latticework that connects us to the rest of humankind.
Recognize That You Have Choices, Then Make Decisions
This one may seem self-explanatory, but it’s necessary to help us break free of what holds us back. I mean this point in the most literal sense. You have a say on the majority of what happens in your life. Let that sink in for a moment because it has some powerful implications.
A lot of the things we see as roadblocks in life are really just decisions we’re afraid to make. We let our desire for money and popularity hold us back. We set aside the things we really want in life because we’re afraid of breaking social norms, family ties, or seeming too radical.
Over my years in high school when I grappled with what I wanted to “do with my life,” I considered a lot of career paths. Doctor. Astronomer. Physicist. Linguist. English professor. But I always came back to writing. One day I decided to stop making myself miserable by believing that I had to choose one of these other options because they were more “practical.” I decided to focus all my efforts on what I actually wanted from my life.
Be Okay With Failure
I’m not even saying don’t be afraid of failure. Hell, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid to fail. I think about crashing and burning quite often, especially with how volatile writing can be; but I recognize that when failure comes, it’s a temporary state and I try my best to move past it. Learning to dust yourself off is an invaluable skill.
And I should clarify: being okay with failure means being okay with failing an infinite number of times, because you have no idea how many times it’ll take before you get it right. When I don’t get a freelance gig I was hoping for, or I’m rejected by an agent, I can’t afford to let myself be down for too long. It’s never a question of if, it’s a question of when; and I have to believe that, mostly for my own sanity, but also because it’ll make me more successful.
No matter your approach to life, make it all your own. Do what you love and don’t give up on that. Put out positivity and good energy and it’ll be returned to you. Find your place in the latticework and get to work.