4 Keys to Living Life with Intention

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

—Carl Rogers


We can live with intention and engage in worthwhile activities when we are fully present.  

It’s easy enough, right? But what does it actually mean to define, mobilize, and adhere to living a life with intention—while also knowing that transformation takes time and it’s a journey? 

I recently attended a training session on how to develop a courageous vision for both my professional and personal lives over the next year. “Live life with intention” consistently bubbled up as a theme and mantra. We were encouraged to focus on the intention to live a more balanced life, full of meaning and purpose. 

In my research, work, and soul-searching, I’ve come up with a few guidelines to support this way of living. 


Get crystal clear on Values

Values determine our priorities. Life is better if our values match our actions and behaviors. We feel fulfilled and content. When our activities and behaviors don’t align with our values, we feel uneasy and dissatisfied.

To ensure that my vision and intentions for 2022 and beyond were centered around these values and priorities, it was essential to be clear on my values. When honing in on values, it’s critical to reflect on your whole self. There are no different values for personal and professional life. Many values are important to me. These include curiosity, family and health, community, courage, faith and grit. I chose two values that will guide me in my actions, decisions, and behavior. (Brené Brown has a great exercise to help you do this.) 

Identifying and focusing on our core values help us find the courage to grow and change for the better. We become more aware and can easily identify whether our actions and behaviors align with what is important to us.   


Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are the guidelines for how you want others to treat you. They also set out how you will accept and reject others. These expectations can be set and made.

There is no guilt or shame in saying no to what does not serve you or is not aligned with your priorities. Healthy boundaries allow you to live your values, thrive, and reach your career goals and dreams.


Establish Non-Negotiables

The things you won’t compromise on are non-negotiables. They emerge from your values and principles and define what you will and won’t accept from others and yourself. These are the unbreakable promises that you make to yourself, your family, friends, colleagues, and others. You can only determine what they are. They are the compass you need to navigate through difficult times and complex decision-making.  

What are the non-negotiables you must have to live up to your values? Some examples include:

  • Never missing a child’s birthday for a work trip
  • Not working on weekends
  • At least five minutes of meditation per day
  • 30 minutes of exercise per day
  • A weekly call to a friend.

Begin by brainstorming what is important to you. Next, narrow down the list and decide which items are non-negotiable. Next, communicate your non-negotiables with people who matter in your life—like your family and team. This will allow others to understand what is important to them and help you stay on track.

It is possible to make a huge difference in your life by identifying what is most important to you and setting your non-negotiables.


Tally up the Votes

This quote is from James Clear’s book, and I love it! Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

Living with intention means that everything you do is a vote to become the person you want. It means stepping out of mindless activities and no longer operating on autopilot—and, instead, moving toward a life based on the conscious choices you make. We can set ourselves daily goals to live with intention and engage in meaningful activities that are based on our values and have a positive impact on our lives and well being.

Katherine Libonate speaks on living with intention as part of the WBI/JCC Positive Psychology Hour webinar series, Thursday, March 24, 12:00–1:00 pm ET. Register here

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