If you aren’t living life with intention, you might feel like a victim to whatever the day throws your way. You might feel purposeless, directionless, and bored. It might feel as if time is flying by and day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year you’re stuck in the same cycles – leading to depression and/or anxiety.

Being more intentional in your daily life helps you achieve your goals. If you don’t have goals, one of your first step is likely to identify what you truly want in life and what it would look like to achieve that.

Do you have a career path or hobby you wish you had more time to pursue? Do you long to have more time and attention to give to your loved ones? Have you wanted to get back into the dating scene but have been too absorbed in work to get out there and meet new people? Do you wish you could hike more, start exercising regularly, or make more homemade meals?

Now is the time to get intentional and make sure every moment counts. Here’s what it means to be more intentional and how you can start making positive steps toward living intentionally this year.

Want to make a change in your life but aren’t sure where to start? Get professional counseling at NYC Therapeutic Wellness to get unstuck and discover an authentic, fulfilling life.

What Does it Mean to Be More Intentional?

Being intentional means that you truly seizing each moment and being focused and committed to an established goal or value. When you are intentional in life, you are ensuring your thoughts, choices, and actions are aligned with your true wants – and anything that stands in the way of that or takes up valuable space in your life is removed from the picture.

Getting Off Autopilot

When you live your life on autopilot, it’s easy to feel lost, bored, or overwhelmed. Maybe you’re disappointed in where your journey has brought you, or you achieved everything you thought you wanted just to find you’re still dissatisfied. Maybe you feel like you put so much work into making things better for yourself, but no matter how fast your wheels spin there is just no forward movement.

Becoming Laser Focused

There are countless ways you can spend your time. Countless causes to which you can dedicate your life. Countless people you could invest time and energy into. And countless career paths to consider.

Being intentional means digging deep into what you truly want in life – not what society or others say you should want – and being laser focused on achieving it.

Defining Your Values, Goals, and Purpose

An essential step in being more intentional is identifying what your intention is. While there may be a million different hobbies and goals you’d like to achieve, the reality is your time and resources are limited. The key to being intentional is identifying the most important things.

Commit Yourself to Authenticity

Before you start listing any goals for the year, it’s important to understand that intentionality is rooted in living a more authentic life. Many people shape their lives on the idea of what they “should” be doing, rather than what they truly want to do. Over time, you might find yourself stuck between a constant push and pull between your true wants and what others want – causing you to feel disconnected, anxious, afraid, depressed, and generally dissatisfied.

In choosing to be more intentional, you’re making a firm decision to shut out the outside noise and focus within. As you take time to identify your values and your goals, make sure you are focusing on the things that will bring you true satisfaction.

Identify What Your Values Are

Your values should lead your goals and intentions. While a goal is a specific thing you want to achieve, values are the core beliefs that guide your life. If you aren’t aligned with your values in your career, relationships, hobbies, and other life pursuits, you’ll still end up filling unfulfilled and off-course.

Now, remember that your values should come from you – not what you feel pressured to be and become. There are many values you could focus on. Here are just a few to help you start thinking:

  • Family and parenting
  • Friendship
  • Learning
  • Creativity
  • Generosity or altruism
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Environmentalism
  • Adventure
  • Sustainability
  • Minimalism
  • Hard work
  • Career success
  • Freedom and individualism
  • Community
  • Empathy
  • Beauty
  • Authenticity
  • Orderliness
  • Teamwork
  • Health and wellness

This list could go on and on, and chances are that you have more than one core value. Be selective and honest in identifying your values as they will be the compass on your journey.

Envision What You Want Your Life to Be

Take a moment to envision the life of your dreams. Remember, your dream is unique to you, and has nothing to do with anyone’s expectations for your life.

What would be different? What would be the same? Do you dream of a life of financial stability and a home you love? Do you envision a future full of adventures to unknown lands? Do you want to finally write that novel, paint that masterpiece, land that position, or start a family? Do you want to have the resources and energy to volunteer and make a positive difference in the world?

Document The Goals You Want to Achieve

Now it’s time to get more specific. Your values and dreams can help you see the big picture of where your intentions will lead you – goals are the steps that will get you there. So, let’s say one of your values is adventure. And when you envision your ideal life, it includes frequent and memorable trips across the world visiting places you’ve never been.

So how do you get from point A to point B? This is where goal setting and intentionality comes in. To add more adventure to your life, this means you will need the resources, time, courage, and life structure to do so. If a lack of money, anxiety, poor time management, or busyness is keeping you from living a fulfilling life, you need to identify those barriers and get into action.

Your first goal for the new year might be something like saving up enough money for a trip, seeing a therapist to work through anxiety, or making more time in your schedule to plan for your next trip. And from here, you can more clearly see what things are getting in the way of meeting that goal. Maybe you’re spending a lot of extra money on house items or other things that could go toward your adventure fund. Or maybe your current job doesn’t give you the flexibility and time off to go adventure, which is getting in the way of your true values.

Being intentional isn’t easy, because it almost always means letting go of things that you’ve grown comfortable with or accustomed to. However, when you keep you eye on the ultimate goal, which is a fulfilling life that is aligned with your values, it will be well worth the struggle.

Setting your intentions is only the first part of the journey. With every step, you will be lulled into a life of routine and habit. We’ve all heard the statistics on how many people make a New Year’s resolution that they never stick with.

The beauty about living a more intentional life is that you can’t fail. Every day is a new day and a chance to realign yourself with your values and push toward your goals. And if you had a bad day, it was just that – a bad day.

As you commit to being more intentional, here are ten tips to guide you:

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

Being intentional isn’t just about setting new goals and working toward them – it’s about being focused on your goal. To stay on target, you will absolutely need to say no to things that would consume your time and energy or derail you. Saying no can be hard – especially if you fear disappointing others. However, learning how to say no is essential for living the authentic, intentional life you envision for yourself.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

How will you know what to say yes or no to? Now that you have an intention set, you can begin to outline where your boundaries lie. Have you set clear boundaries with your significant other, your family and friends, and your job? Once you identify what your boundaries are, make sure to communicate them with others.

3. Identify and Cut Out Waste

What people or things in your life are sucking your joy? Or what tasks, items, or obligations are taking up all your spare resources? Could any of these things but cut out completely? While you don’t need to be a minimalist to be more intentional, it’s time to start getting rid of things that no longer serve you and your goals.

4. Decide What You Let Influence You

Social media, movies, books, music, and the people we hang around all have an influence on our thoughts and beliefs. As you become more intentional, avoid negative outside influences that can bring you down or derail you from what truly matters.

5. Refocus Every Morning

Being intentional doesn’t mean you need to drop your routine – rather take time to rethink it. How can you change your daily routine to better fit your intentions? Take time each morning to remember your goals for the day and how you can prioritize items on your to-do list.

6. Schedule Time to Reflect

Also carve some time at night to reflect on your day. Did you make any progress toward your goals? What did you do well? What could have gone better? Even a quick five minutes can help you avoid falling into the same pitfalls or encourage you to keep making steps in the right direction.

7. Be Realistic

Are the goals you’re setting for yourself realistic? While the goal of being intentional is to declutter your plate – leaving only the most delicious and filling meal behind – if you’re the high-achieving type, being intentional can also feel like a challenge to push yourself harder. Make sure that you’re gracious with yourself and are setting realistic, achievable goals for the year.

8. Stop Impulsivity

While your heart and mind might be focused on your goals, impulsivity can take down even your best intentions. Learn how to recognize the signs of impulsivity, learn healthy coping mechanisms for when you’re feeling low, and learn evidence-based methods to stop being impulsive. A therapist can guide in this process and help you develop stronger decision-making skills.

9. Leave Time for Relaxation

Being intentional doesn’t mean you can’t ever catch a break. Rest and self-care are important for everyone. A minute spent recharging isn’t a moment wasted. This all circles back to being realistic – make sure you’re not overloading your plate and are taking care of your basic needs as well.

10. Revisit Your Goals

When first considering your values, dream, and goals, it’s a good idea to write these down somewhere. This can be a vison board, a journal, or vlog. Periodically, look back on these to remind yourself why you chose to be intentional in the first place.

Start Living More Intentionally With Professional Support

How can you be more intentional in your life if you constantly feel bogged down by depression, can’t get your behaviors under control, or are frozen with anxiety? A therapist can help you on your journey by helping you reconnect with your authentic self and identify the pitfalls getting in the way. Our compassionate and grounded therapists at NYC Therapeutic Wellness are to help you navigate the journey ahead and get you another step closer to living your happiest and most fulfilling life.

Need help getting started? Partner with a therapist who will help you grow, heal, change at thrive. Schedule an appointment at NYC Therapeutic Wellness today.