“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”
When we live with intention, we wholeheartedly engage in activities that are worthwhile to us.
Simple 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 participated in a training session focused on developing a courageous vision for my professional and personal life 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. When the things we do and how we behave match our values, life is usually good, and we generally feel satisfied and content. When our activities and behaviors don’t align with our values, we feel uneasy and dissatisfied.
I had to get crystal clear on my values to ensure that my vision, intention, and focus for 2022 and beyond are squarely centered around those values and priorities. When honing in on values, it’s critical to reflect on your whole self. You do not have different values for work and personal life. Many values matter to me, such as curiosity, family, health, community, courage, faith, grit, and optimism. I leaned in on two that will guide my decisions, actions, and behaviors. (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 mindful, and are more easily able to identify whether our behaviors and actions align with what matters to us.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries establish how you want to be treated, the rules for how others learn to behave around you, and what you will and will not accept. It is not selfish or offensive to set these expectations and make these requests.
There is no guilt or shame in saying no to what does not serve you or is not aligned with your priorities. Healthy boundaries create space and opportunity to commit to values, flourish, and achieve career goals and life dreams.
Non-negotiables are the things you will not budge on. 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 you keep to yourself and your family, friends, and colleagues. Only you can determine what they are, and they are the compass that will guide you through tricky times when decision-making is complex.
What are the non-negotiables that will help you live into your values? Some examples include:
- Never missing a child’s birthday for a work trip
- Not working on weekends
- Meditating for at least five minutes a day
- Doing 30 minutes of exercise every day
- Making a weekly call to a friend.
Start by brainstorming what matters to you, then narrow down the list and decide what is truly non-negotiable. Next, communicate your non-negotiables with people who matter in your life—like your family and team. This allows others to know what is important to you so they can support you to stay on track.
Getting clear on what matters most to you, setting your non-negotiables around that, and then following through on them can make a massive difference in all aspects of your life.
Tally Up the Votes
I love this quote from James Clear, from his book 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.”
When you live with intention, everything you choose to do is a vote for the person you want to be. 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. By living with intention, we set out each day to engage in meaningful activities that fuel us, align with our values, and positively influence 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.
Katherine Libonate, a graduate of WBI’s Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology and Positive Psychology Coaching Fundamentals, offers career coaching, life coaching, and executive coaching, helping clients to gain insights and take the practical steps they need to achieve greater levels of happiness, purpose, and success. With a diverse background in psychology, sociology, consumer insights, client management, leadership development, and business expansion, Katherine has more than 20 years of experience advising Fortune 100 companies on building relationships and promoting synergy. As a lover of travel, she also founded Happier Journeys, a travel company that curates weekend trips and getaways for couples and groups. Find out more about Katherine’s work at KatherineLibonate.com.