Do you feel like life is happening to you vs you being in control of your life? Do your weeks come and go, and you don’t feel like you have much to show for it?
If these questions are hitting home with you, you might have an intentionality problem.
Don’t worry, I can help.
What is Intention
Do you remember when an actual dictionary was included on your school supply list? Different times, man.
If you look up “intention” on dictionary.com, you’ll find 3 definitions. My favorite one is this:
“An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.”
In other words, you make up your mind about the actions you’ll take.
As my friend, Megan Brogger (Leadership Consultant + Co-Founder/Partner at Lumin Advantage Consulting) says, “Intention is the fuel behind your actions.”
Oftentimes, we aren’t consciously aware of why we are doing what we’re doing. Typically because they are habits, or prompted by another person or a ping in our environment (text message, dryer buzzer, etc.).
Intention is deciding ahead of time what you’ll do and how you’ll act. It’s bringing awareness to your decisions and the reason behind them.
What Intention Will Do For You
Being intentional will take back control of what you do and why you do it. Instead of reflexively or habitually responding to every outside prompt, which leads to that “what did I even do today?” feeling.
Being intentional puts you back in the driver seat of your life, over things you can control. The biggest thing you can control: your time.
How you spend your time is how you spend your life. When you spend your time mindfully, you will have greater satisfaction, productivity, and peace.
What Intention Won’t Do For You
Becoming intentional will not guarantee specific outcomes. This is because of life. There will always be disruptions and people vying for your time. There will always be world events that may change the outcome of your plans.
Remember how everyone declared 2020 was going to be their best year yet? File that one under: completely out of our control.
Learning to be flexible, resilient and gritty are skillsets we all must learn to sharpen.
Being intentional will not automatically help your focus and do the darn thing. We live in a world that has been designed to suck us in and keep us distracted.
No amount of intention setting will help you stay course unless you put systems in place to help you do that. Such as, turning off phone notifications. Setting timers to complete an intentional action. Shifting habits to match with your intentions.
Here is where I strongly recommend James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habits” for aligning your life with your intentions.
Lastly, being intentional is not the same as goals. Intentions are the step before goal setting. In fact, you can eliminate goal setting altogether while still achieving the same (or better) outcomes. This is because intentions are the WHY behind our actions. If we don’t know why we are setting or going after a certain goal, then that’s a pointless goal.
How to Set Intentions
The most effective way to use intentions is by tying them to your values. This is where your life magic happens. When you are operating out of your values, you are spending your time on the things that matter most to you.
It will also help you make decisions about what is important and what needs to be eliminated or pushed back for a different season.
The flow of intentions will look like this:
Identify your 5-6 core values. Remember, not all values have to be hard-core and serious. It’s worthy to have a value of, say, JOY as part of your core.
For each value, write down a few sentences of why it’s a core value to you. Then, write down 3-5 regular actions you intend to do to align and boost these values in your life.
Your systems are how you are going to fulfill your intentions. This is where planning comes in!
Before we get to that, I have a great resource for you. I created a workbook to help you do this exact system.
- Identify your values
- Set your intentions around those values
- Set up systems
- Break down the systems into daily or weekly actions
- Tools you’ll need
- Reflecting to stay aligned with your intentions
Even better, it’s totally free. Just click here to grab it (or use the form below).
How to Use Planning to Live Intentionally
We finally get to whip out those planners. Think of your planner as a tool, and planning is the system to ensure you are doing the things most important to you.
Break down your value-based intentions into one of three categories based on how often you’ll do them:
Then, using your weekly intentions, write down which day(s) you will do them.
Finally, using both your daily and weekly intentions, write down what time of day you’ll do them: morning, afternoon, or evening.
With your action plan in place, schedule those daily, weekly, and monthly intentions into your planner. You can add it in the to-do section, or as part of your schedule, or somewhere else that makes sense to you.
Life goes fast. Days get away from us. Heck, so do months and years. That’s why it’s important to set aside the time to reflect.
Reflecting allows you to appreciate the time you spent. It also gives you perspective, allows you to process through things, and gives you a clearer direction of how you want to move forward.
Making time for reflection is an important part of being intentional, and for a satisfied life.
Then the cycle repeats. Even as time goes by scarily fast, you can feel good knowing that your time is *mostly* spent on the things that matter to you.
Speaking of planners, Sprouted Planner was created with Intention and Reflection at its core. Whether you’re using the daily planner or the weekly planner, there’s space for your intentions and reflection. There is also a guided monthly reflection after each month.
You can click here to check out the planners and other supplemental tools to help you live a life of intention through planning.
Don’t forget to download the free How to Live an Intentional Life through Planning workbook here.