If someone told you, you only had one week left to spend with a specific loved one before they died or went away forever, what would you do with them? Now, imagine that someone told you that you only had one more week left to live. What would you run out and do before your time was up?
About a week ago I lost my great-grandmother after she couldn’t recover from a minor heart attack. The loss was unexpected and made me sad of course, but I found relief knowing that she lived a good life and I had many opportunities to talk with her and do little things for her that made her feel better.
When most people lose a loved one, they always beat themselves up about not spending as much time as they could with them or being as nice to them as they should have. I didn’t go through that self-bashing stage this past week. I know that life is a journey and I knew my great-grandmother wasn’t going to live forever, so I did what I could do in my power to make even an ounce of difference in her life.
She was not as healthy during her final days and couldn’t remember much. I think she even forgot my son’s name this past year. I wasn’t perfect when it came to spending time with my grandmother because I have a super crazy schedule, but I knew little things like getting her a small gift for the holidays, running to the store to pick her up a crossword puzzle, and bringing her an extra slice of cake that I baked at my house were small efforts that probably made her day.
When I thought of this topic to post on the blog over a month ago, this loss hadn’t occurred yet so I’m actually taking a whole new and deeper perspective on intentional living.
After everything that I’ve experienced, my best way to describe intentional living is not by assigning it a distinct definition. It encompasses a lot of concepts like taking advantage of the present, making specific choices that are going to help get you to your end goal and honor your values and most important, choosing a path for your life that makes you happy and fulfilled.
When you live intentionally each and every day, you don’t just wake up one day and realize that you never got to go back to school, go on the trip of a lifetime or call your grandmother back who has been trying to get ahold of you for awhile.
Now that I’m learning more and more about intentional living, I realized that I’ve been doing it all along these past few years and want to help others do the same. If you haven’t tried living intentionally, here’s how you can get started.
Realize What You Want Out of Life Early On
Quarter and mid-life crises are common. Many people don’t know what they truly want out of life or what they want their ideal lifestyle to look like. Stop and take time out to think about what makes you feel fulfilled no matter how simple or complex it sounds and strive for that as an end result.
If you have trouble determining what you truly want to accomplish or experience in your everyday life, imagine that you only had 30 days left to live and make a list of everything you would do, see and accomplish in those last days. I doubt you’d add working 40 hour weeks and making tons of money on that list.
As a personal finance writer, I get it. Money is the tool used to achieve the opportunities and life that you want. A lot of us must go to work in order to survive. But to say that all you want out of life is a nice house and a good job is slightly absurd. You have to dig deeper than that.
Create Goals Each and Every Year
When you set annual goals, it helps add purpose and focus to your day so you know exactly what you need to do to live the best life you can have.
I personally have a problem with setting too many goals and slightly overworking myself, but my one solution to that has been to make a 5-10 year vision for my life and break my goals down year-by-year based on what is most important and accessible to me at the time.
I post my financial goals on here along with a few life goals but I also have personal goals to help improve my overall level of happiness and add value to my life. You can write your goals down or organize them in the form of a vision board to help remind and motivate you each day.
Implement Your Goals and a Plan For Your Life Each and Every Day
Each day is a gift and another chance to advance in life. We only get 24 hours each day, but I’ve learned that you can leverage that time achieve anything you want. These days, almost everything I do is calculated and focuses on my end goal.
I intentionally seek out better relationships with people and connect with new and interesting friends who can have a positive impact on my life.
I intentionally take the time to conversate with family members who I don’t see often to stay connected.
I intentionally search for free and frugal activities and events to participate in with my son during our off days so we can spend quality time together and create memories.
When I drop the ball on my budget and wind up absolutely broke for an entire week, I intentionally work on revising my budget so I can start over and be successful for the next month.
When it comes to side hustling, I intentionally seek out opportunities that are going to be enjoyable and pay me well for my time.
Overall, I intentionally try to become better at life. I’m not a master at intentional living yet, but I’m well on my way to living a fulfilling life. I do a variety of things each day to work toward a better life that honors my values and morals while helping me get closer to my end goal. Then, at the end of each year, I review everything and see how far I’ve come.
This concept of living is 1000 times better than the ‘you only live once so you might as well ___’ mindset. I’m still enjoying life to the best of my ability, but I’m doing so with intent and purpose.
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