So, you want to live a more intentional life?
It doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because you practice intentional living.
This needn’t be complex.
First, you set an intention. Then, you follow through on that intention. Next, you reflect on how it went. And last, you repeat the process.
Levels of Intention
You can do this on a macro level, a medium level, and a micro level:
- Macro Intentions: What you want in the big picture. For your life in general. Or on a yearly level. (This is what the Year Planning Workbooks are all about.)
- Mid-Level Intentions: What you want in an intermediate timeframe. Quarterly, Monthly, and weekly goals.
- Micro-Level Intentions: What you want right now. Daily, hourly, and moment-to-moment targets.
Of course, doing this well is easier said than done.
- You have to remember to set your intentions.
- You need the self-awareness to know what you actually want.
- You have to be specific with your goals, and realistic with the time, energy, and attention you have.
- You have to dare to dream + stretch + challenge yourself.
And then, you need to have the courage, discipline, energy, and focus to follow through on those intentions.
But when you do, the results speak for themselves. You invest your attention in the things that you value. Your self-awareness goes through the roof. You feel like you’re in the drivers’ seat of your life. You’re more focused, motivated, and productive.
Again, this doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when you practice it.
So let’s start practicing.
A Weekly Reflection Practice for Intentional Living
In this article, I’ll focus on the mid-level, weekly intentions. This is an easy place to start if you’re new to the practice.
There are three main pieces to intentional living:
- Setting Intentions
- Following through
- Reflection + Review
Part 1: Setting Intentions
Every week, take a few minutes to set your intentions.
- Give yourself a few minutes of uninterrupted space. Ideally do this first thing in the morning, before you’ve responded to external inputs like emails, texts, TV, radio, etc.
- Write them down. This is important! Make your thoughts tangible.
- Revisit your intentions each morning. You can also incorporate this into a daily journaling practice.
1a) Your Big 3 Identities
When you want to make a positive change in life, you’d be wise to start with your identity. (We behave in accordance with the person we believe ourselves to be.)
And since life is complex, and we could create an endless number of identities for different parts of life, we’ll simplify it to what Brian Johnson calls “The Big 3” — Energy, Work, and Love.
These are the core elements of our life. So let’s clarify how we want to show up–WHO we want to be in each of those areas.
Use these questions as inspiration to set your intentions.
- How do I want to show up this week, energy-wise?
- How do I want to show up this week, work-wise?
- How do I want to show up this week, love-wise?
1b) Your Most Important Actions
Then, for each of those identities, answer the following:
- What’s the most important habit/behavior/activity that will most significantly contribute to me showing up in alignment with that identity?
If I were doing this for my upcoming week, I might write something like…
Energy: This week, I will be an elite athlete. My #1 behavior is working out first thing in the morning, every day.
Work: This week, I will be a powerful coach. My #1 behavior is showing up fully-present, energized, and grounded for each of my client sessions.
Love: This week, I will be wholehearted ME. My #1 behavior is making eye-contact and creating micro-moments of connection with everyone I encounter.
1c) General Intentions
And lastly, get honest + creative about what you want for your week.
- What would make this week amazing?
- What would be fun, fulfilling, and energizing?
- What are the 3 most important things to get right this week?
- What do you not want to do this week?
Part 2: Follow-Through
Go about your week. Do your best to follow through on your intentions.
Revisit them as often as is helpful to keep them fresh in your mind.
Action is the vehicle that brings your intentions to life.
Part 3: Reflection and Review
At the end of the week, revisit your intentions and check in:
- What went well? Celebrate your wins with a “that’s like me!”
- What needs work? Note your growth opportunities without judgment.
- How would you have shown up at your best? Envision how key moments could have gone differently if you had approached them at your best.
At its most streamlined, this practice only takes a handful of minutes on either end. And at its most detailed, you could invest a couple hours on it every week.
No matter which path you choose, make it your own! Experiment with different prompts. Get creative. Keep what’s helpful and discard the rest.
To my mind, the only “wrong” practice is not practicing at all.
So that’s my challenge to you: Set your intentions clearly. Then, do your best to make it happen! Reflect on it. And, repeat.
If you feel so inspired, you can expand your practice to other levels: from the macro yearly targets down to the micro moment-to-moment intentions.
Here’s to you and your intentional life!