How to life an intentional life.

Have you ever felt stuck because you believed you did not have a choice?

That you were not living the life you would have chosen for yourself?

If so, well, you are not alone. 

For those of you who do not know, personal development has always been my ultimate passion. Since I came to The Netherlands, I have tried to find ways to make a career out of what I love, but because I was feeling pressured to be financially independent and have a ‘successful’ career, I decided to find a job in the corporate world. At that time, I thought, it was the only way to make an affordable living. Yet there I was, working in a multinational company, living pay check-to-pay check without feeling fulfilled.

In that moment, while talking on the phone with a friend from University about life and happiness, she asked me, hey, ‘If you could do one thing in your life right now, what would you do?’. And honestly, my current day-to-day job was not my answer.

And that’s when it hit me. Up until that point I knew logically that I could always choose, but emotionally, that had never been an option.

Actually, in sacrificing my power to choose, I had already made a choice. By refusing to choose ‘for my passion’, I had chosen ‘what people think is the good way for my career’, not because I actually wanted to be there but by default. That is when I realised that when we surrender our ability to choose, something or someone else will step in and choose for us.

So that was it for me. I knew what kind of person I wanted to be. I wanted to be someone who appreciates her life and doesn’t take it for granted. So that day, I was determined to live an intentional life.


SO, WHY LIVE AN INTENTIONAL LIFE?

The result of living life this way is that you can create the opportunity to upgrade your life. And with each opportunity, you will create your life exactly how you want it to be. It means living your life at your own terms, so that you can design your own version of your dream life. So, when you live intentionally, you get to decide what is best for you and you are able to live the exact life you want. Isn’t this what we all want? 

Let’s say you’re in a job that’s fine, it pays the bills but you don’t feel it’s the job of your dreams. You actually want to make more money and work less.

You might be aware of this, and realise that although you went to college and did everything everyone said to do, this is not how you wanted life to be.

Although you created and chose the job and income that you have, you still feel stuck. But don’t worry, we got good news for you: you can still create the life you deserve. But there is a catch: It solely depends on you.

Certainly, if you do not decide for yourself, someone else will, and you will end up living a life that you didn’t choose for yourself from the beginning. Being in control of your life also means taking responsibility for it. You get to decide what success is for you and what a dream life looks for you but with this comes the responsibility of taking action towards this goal. To achieve this, you may need many things. But for us, it comes down to two main virtues: 

  • 1) having clarity of mind on what is essential to you and; 
  • 2) being aware of where and who you are and where and who you want to be.

It all comes down to giving yourself the chance to design your life from your future instead of repeating your past.

HOW DO YOU CREATE AN INTENTIONAL LIFE?

1. BECOME AWARE OF WHERE AND WHO YOU ARE

AWARENESS VS. RESPONSIBILITY

Where do we start? Well, we can start by reflecting on where we are now and on how our choices have made who we are. Being aware of who you are means taking responsibility for all the results in your life. I encourage you to be aware of of how you created your salary, your marriage, your health, your own personal values and to really take responsibility for how you think, feel and act.

To help you gain awareness, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • THOUGHTS – what am I thinking?
  • VALUES – What values do I believe in?
  • FEELINGS – What am I feeling?
  • ACTIONS – What actions am I taking or not taking?
  • RESULTS – what results am I creating or not creating?
  • CIRCUMSTANCES – what circumstances exist outside of me that I cannot control?

The beauty of living intentionally is understanding that you ALWAYS have the freedom to choose what kind of life you want: choose your health, your relationships, your career, your money, your hobbies, your family. Being aware of how you are making choices and decisions will help you take full control of your circumstances and fuel change towards the direction that you want. But you need to take responsibility over these.

2. DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO AND WHO YOU WANT TO BE

DESIRING VS. DECIDING

Ok, so now we know where we stand. And now is the moment where you get to envision and decide how you want your life to be: how much money you want to make, how you want to make it, how much or little you want to work, what you would like to do in your spare time, what kind of relationships you want to have and most importantly, what kind of person you want to be.

There are two small steps in the process: It is not only imagining an amazing life, it is taking responsibility and taking action for it. Desiring may be easy, but deciding is the real deal. Take ownership of your dreams, make them real and actionable, and decide to go for it!

SLOW YES AND QUICK NO

In order to decide purposefully, we need to learn the ‘slow yes’ and the ‘quick no’. Sometimes we quickly say yes to avoid social awkwardness and pressure. We do not want to let someone down or be left out because it is not what is ‘expected’ from us. Usually, when someone offers us a new project or opportunity we tend to say yes automatically, without thinking, often in pursuit of pleasing someone else because we feel guilty. But these emotions fog our thoughts.

What we do not realise is that we are always saying no when we say yes to stuff. The problem comes after, when we eventually realise that we need to sacrifice something more important because we already committed to something else.

The point is to say no to everything but what is really essential. Think ‘what do I intentionally want from it?’, ‘what is the exchange value I am going to make and for what benefit?’. Think about where you are going to invest your time. Think about it before you jump into a decision. Deciding with randomness is not good. Figure out first where you would like to make your highest contribution and make that sole thing happen.

A FINAL NOTE

For all the impact the different choices have had on the trajectory of my life, I started to value the way in which we view choices in our lives. Choice is not something we have but something we do. And we can always have the control over how we choose among our options. We just need to realise the power we have in choosing to choose. We just need to understand that we are responsible on our choices and therefore have to act upon them. 

So, are you ready to us in living a life of intention? Then it is now the moment to give yourself the chance to design your life from your future and walk away from repeating your past. It may be hard to design and start living the life of your dreams. But don’t worry, you can absolutely do it! Remember, there is a way to freedom: choosing to live an intentional life.

Naomi Rodriguez