“Lean forward into your life. Begin each day as if it were on purpose.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
I love the word intention. It shows purpose and gives value; intention has an objective and focus. Also, it’s important to understand that intentions and goals are different things. This is how author Mary Anne Radmacher illustrates the difference:
“An Intention is the structure of the house that you design and build. Goal setting is how you appoint the house with furniture and objects.”
I love that–intention equals structure. So, first you set an intention, and then your intention will inform your goals. The cool thing is, as with a house, the structure stays in tact but in the same way we move furniture and redecorate, our goals change too.
There are many ways to demonstrate intention, but I’m offering up what I think are the five most important areas for intentional living. Here we go…
LIFE: The Foundation
According to Simple Marriage, an intentional life is when “…Everything is done with consciousness, fulfilling a core value (compassion, love, serving, to name a few).” So, basically, you have to get to the heart of things. What is it you want to give out to the world through actions and relationships?
Find your core value and go forward with that leading the way. Our time on this planet goes swiftly, and the imprint we leave is how we lived our life. And it’s never too late to start living with intention and greater awareness. All of the trials and tribulations we experience are great lessons for discovering our truths and how we want to live our life.
“Choice, not chance, determines your destiny” ~ Aristotle
This area, as anyone knows from reading my blog, has been a challenge. I like how Marriage Missions sums up being intentional in our marriages:
“In this era, if we’re not intentional, we’ll become an automatic pilot couple. What I mean is that the natural flow of marriage relationships in contemporary life, with our crammed schedules, endless tasks, kids to care for, and the ever-present television media is towards less focus on the couple relationship over time, and therefore towards less connection, less spark, and less intimacy.”
This is absolutely true in my marriage, and I am feeling the consequences of living on autopilot for the last 20+ years. It’s hard to balance everything and marriage takes work and speaking of work…
How can someone avoid being intentional when it comes to work? If you don’t have intention you don’t have clear goals. If you don’t have goals you don’t advance and your pay doesn’t increase. If your pay doesn’t increase where’s the incentive to work at all?
My husband is intentional at work. He desires to succeed and advance. His job is important to him. His desire to provide for his family is important to him. If you want to succeed in work, set an intention then set goals. If intention/goal setting just isn’t your thing, well, then accept that advancing may also not be your thing.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ~ Stephen R. Covey
Our belief system is a determining factor in the foundation of our intentionality. Setting time aside to pray, focus, meditate, or simply be thankful is what some Christian counselors say is “necessary for personal growth.” We are encouraged to take time to consciously put others above ourselves in prayer.
By humbly reflecting on our Maker with gratitude, we minimize self-centered attitudes that creep into our life throughout the day. Stress and anxiety often triggers self-centered behavior, so it’s important to keep our intentions at the forefront and in moments of stress . . . stop and reflect.
I believe when you become a parent, unless it’s an accident, most people are naturally intentional about child rearing. As soon as a person accepts the responsibility of caring for a human being it’s hard to keep intention away. And the effects of parenting without intention can be catastrophic. We have seen this over and over again in society and the public school system. Some parents just don’t take the time to actually “parent,” and many single moms and dads with minimal time, are creating a generation of kids that are lazy and entitled.
As parents, we face loads of challenges and questions that pop up on a daily basis, especially in the early years. When this happens, stay with your core parenting values and seek out knowledge. When in doubt (like I was at first, some 20 years ago), turn to experienced friends for advice and next steps. There is also a plethora of information available in the form of books, videos, podcasts, and even blog posts that provide answers to questions about odd looking bowel movements, junior’s new attitude, or how to raise kids.
There are also phases of intentionality. For example, with little ones, we’re more intentional with the basics like personal hygiene, social skills, etc., and with teens, we’re more intentional with conversations about the future and growing in responsibilities.
Parenting with intention is also a great way to teach our kids about intentional living since they learn from how we lead.
Ok, so there are 5 areas where living with intention is key. And here’s a great tape-to-the-fridge poem (also by Mary Anne Radmacher) if you’d like a daily reminder:
“Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Play with abandon.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.”