How To Take Back Control Over Your Life – 21 Steps To Help You Achieve It 

 

 

Hello again lovely

 

In this post, I want to explore some of the reasons you may feel this way…and how you can take back control.

 

 

Do You Feel Like You’ve Lost Yourself In Midlife?

 

Here’s a super important question for you. Ever feel like your life isn’t playing out the way you imagined…like you’ve lost your way somehow? 

 

Does it feel like your life is controlling what you do each day rather than the other way around?…and none of it is what you would really like to be doing.

 

Well of course ‘life’ is just a word and can’t literally control us.

 

BUT, what can control us are the expectations placed on us by our upbringing, family, partners, society, media, social media, community, peers, friends…need I go on?

 

There is, and always has been, a sort of blueprint about how we should live. It’s not always specific…it’s subtle and ingrained and we usually fall into step automatically.

 

This seems to be how it goes…

 

Have dreams as a kid, that no-one, not even ourselves take seriously. Then we get to school and dreams change or we forget them.

 

Then, puberty takes over any rational thought-process for a few years. (all we think of is sex)…just being honest!

 

Then at college, we often tend to fall into courses, which are not always because we know what we want to do with our lives.

 

It’s what our friends are doing, OR it’s what our family expectations are, OR it’s the easiest courses to get a degree without too much hard work.

 

 

Life Rarely Plays Out The Way We Expected

 

For example…In my teens, I always wanted to become a Marine biologist, which in Australia, with thousands of miles of amazing coastline and stunning reefs seems like a valid choice doesn’t it?

 

Scuba Dive looking at shoal of yellow fish

 

But do you think I chose the correct courses at college… Noooooo!

 

I did a Business Administration degree which seemed a good idea at the time. WHY?…because my friends were doing it. Also, it sounded like a legitimate type of degree (whatever that is).

 

Guess what…I HATED it!

 

Now, it stands me in good stead as I work for myself, and also came in handy with my corporate sales career, but it wasn’t really necessary.

 

 

Then We Have The Next Milestones

 

We get married (usually), have kids, climb the corporate ladder…still not always sure why we’re doing it. Get to the top and realize it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be AND, we missed many of our kid’s most momentous moments.

 

So next

 

We watch our kids grow up, get married, have kids of their own…then what?

 

What I’m getting at is this…

 

Looking back, although I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed my life, so far… I wasn’t really ‘living’ the life I wanted to. Worse than that, and it’s the same for many of us, I didn’t even realize it!

 

 

So Why Does This Happen? Why Don’t We Live Intentionally?

 

Attractive middle aged woman in the park pondering about life

 

Why is it that so many people seem to live a life that they didn’t really want?

 

I know this because now that I’m in my midlife years, I find out from so many of my friends (mainly women but not all) that if, when they were younger they had truly evaluated what they wanted out of life, things would have been very different.

 

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So Enough Already….Time To Start Living An Intentional Life!

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Even if you’re past 50 like I am, there’s plenty of life left and it’s got to be lived with purpose. To bring you maximum joy, to excite you, to fulfill you, to realize your dreams…you know…the ones you had earlier in life and then forgot about or put aside.

 

We’re not mindless robots where a life without these things doesn’t matter. 

We’re HUMAN and they matter very much!

 

 

What Does Living Intentionally Really Mean?

 

My late dad, bless him, had a saying I’ve always remembered.

“When you’re on your deathbed, no-one is going to care about how well you lived your life except you…they’ll be too busy thinking about their own”

 

It’s a brutal truth. Ultimately only you can be responsible for how you choose to live…a great fulfilling life OR a mediocre one.

 

Living intentionally means taking back the reins.

 

It means taking control of your life rather than just letting it happen to you. It’s about not just going through the motions. (Related Post)

 

It’s about really spending time doing some deep thinking, being totally honest with yourself and, recognizing what YOU want to achieve in your coming years.

 

Core Values in colored wooden blocks on grey background

 

It’s Time To Live Your Life Aligned With Your Core Values

 

Never live someone else’s version of what they think you should do.

 

Evaluate your current relationships with your family, spouse, friends, work colleagues, and deciding whether these are all in your best interests.

 

Do they make you feel good…about life and about yourself?

 

Or, do they leave you feeling undervalued, unappreciated, sad, joyless, and in some cases, controlled?

 

I truly believe that any relationship, that leaves you feeling any of these things is not worth wasting another minute of your precious time on this planet enduring.

 

This also goes for family members.

 

Just because they’re your family doesn’t give them the right to criticize you, put you down, or try to encourage you to live how they think you should. They often mean well…but sometimes you will need to remind them that it’s YOUR life.

 

In fact, I find that sometimes, family members can take enormous liberties that other people wouldn’t when it comes to commenting or interfering in other family member’s decisions.

 

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my family to bits, but there have been times…!

 

 

Evaluate Your Relationship With Your Friends

 

If being in their company leaves you feeling criticized, unsupported and unhappy…it’s time to cut them loose.

 

Two upset female friends in a cafe

 

You are worth more than that…and so is your life!

 

Friendships change over time, just like we do. Sometimes they don’t align with who we’ve become and that’s ok. Nothing wrong with moving on.

 

The same applies to your spouse.

 

Contrary to what some people like to believe, you didn’t purchase each other when you got married. No-one owns you!

 

Sad wife unhappy in her marriage

 

I don’t care what some elements of society may want to believe. A relationship should be an equal partnership.

 

Meaning, if for whatever reason you feel the relationship no longer brings you happiness…it may be time to walk away.

 

Seriously. Life is way too short to spend time in any relationship that doesn’t uplift you, support you, and bring you happiness and joy.

 

 

Do You Hate Your Current Job?… Maybe It’s Time To Change

 

Tired black businesswoman at her desk

 

Now…I understand that we can’t all just decide that if it’s not fulfilling or exciting enough, that we can just pack it in and go chase our dreams.

 

But consider this…

 

Do you genuinely believe that it’s your destiny to work for years in a job you hate…only to wait for retirement and hope to be happy?

…do you really!

 

Aren’t there better ways to live your life?

 

My husband and I considered this very carefully…(for about 10 minutes!). That’s when we made the decision to quit. BUT we planned it over a period of 2 years.

 

We made a decision that we were totally fed up with living the crappy 9-5, working for bosses, in a ‘never going to get rich doing’ lifestyle.

 

So…if you’re not in a position to change careers now, do some soul searching and start to put in place some goals to escape.

 

You may find that just planning the future will help you enjoy your current job a little more. That’s because you have an ‘out’, and this can work miracles psychologically.

 

Remember, you still have a lot of life to live. Make plans to live it well!

 

 

Time To Set Some New Goals

 

My husband and I opted instead for a life that would make us happy…a life on our terms, setting our own hours, and going wherever we wanted.

 

Yes, we work online, and yes we got some flack for it initially but hey, now everyone’s doing it.

 

The only good thing to come out of the pandemic is that there’s no longer a stigma associated with freelancing or remote work. It’s almost become mainstream by necessity!

 

Woman freelancing in exotic location with laptop

 

Of course, Covid-19 has interrupted our plans but it’s the same for millions of people…and many in much, much worse ways. We’re currently in Vietnam riding out Covid-19 for as long as it takes.

 

But we’re still living our dream…no more 9-5 for us!

 

Once you have spent the time to decide what type of livelihood will truly make you happy, you can put plans into place to change your career.

 

Maybe decide on semi-retirement if you’re able. Then earn some money part-time from doing something totally fulfilling.

 

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t happen immediately. The idea is to decide ‘intentionally’ on a plan and set achievable goals to make it happen.

 

Learn To Say ‘No’ Without Guilt

 

Part of Living Intentionally is to always align with your Core Values.

 

These will vary for each person, but one common issue that everyone faces is learning how to say NO!

 

We are conditioned that when we say no, we always follow it with the word ’sorry’. We don’t need to apologize for choosing not to do something.

 

If you feel the word No is too harsh, follow it with ‘thank you’. But remember…you don’t really have to explain why.

 

If we are being asked to do or say something that doesn’t match our values because it’s against what we believe, how we think, or what we want to achieve…it’s our prerogative to say no.

 

No apology is necessary.

 

This is a difficult habit to break because it’s one of those societal things we learn when we’re young. But start accepting that you own your life and what you do in it.

 

If it doesn’t align with your values, then the answer is No.

 

 

Intentionally Choose To Be A Positive Person

 

Positive midlife woman with striped shirt showing arm muscles

 

There is HUGE power in Positive thinking.

 

Seeing and appreciating the positives in everything goes hand in hand with your Intentional Living journey.

 

Positivity can be addictive. Sadly, many people have dwelt on the negatives for so long that it doesn’t come naturally to them anymore.

 

Taking back control of your life will give you back a positive outlook. No more feeling lost!

 

Making sure that the people you surround yourself with also have a positive approach to life will greatly enhance your happiness, and that in turn will be an inspiration to others you meet.

 

Choose To Ge Grateful For What You Have

 

Chances are that gratefulness is already part of your core values. When we plan our future purposefully, it’s worth remembering that so much of what’s already happened in our lives has led us to this point.

 

Be grateful for your achievements and growth.

 

Expressing genuine appreciation to others is empowering for you, and can have a dramatic effect on people. Sadly it’s not as common as it should be.

 

Have gratitude for your health, and the freedom to choose a different path in life when so many elsewhere in the world can’t. Be grateful for having the ability to realize your dreams, and be in a position to plan…and just for life in general.

 

It’s a wonderful feeling and very ‘grounding’. 

 

 

Revisit Your Dreams From Years Ago… If Not Now, When?

 

Mature blond woman sitting in window overlooking the sea

 

When was the last time you yearned to follow them?

 

Was it a hobby you always wanted to do?. Did you think of learning another language one day, maybe romantic French, or spicy Italian?

 

Maybe you have always wanted to travel and see iconic buildings and places (this is our dream).

 

Or maybe you would love to set up your own small coffee shop and bake wonderful cupcakes and other goodies using your mother’s amazing recipes.

 

Life’s to be lived with intention…not by accident, and I am pretty sure we only get one shot at it…in our human form anyway!

 

So, time to get on with it my friend. Make some plans.

 

 

Is Living Intentionally Starting To Make Sense Now?

 

Letters on Pink board "Live Life In Full Bloom"

 

Decide On Your WHY

 

Why do you want to change things in your life? What’s not working for you? What’s stopping you from feeling joy, peace, fulfillment, excitement?

 

 

  • Make decisions about the sort of life you want to live that’s aligned with your core values.

 

  • Don’t go through the motions of a life that’s not what you want or doesn’t fit with who you are or what you believe.

 

  • Evaluate all your relationships to ensure they still make you feel wonderful. If not, ditch them. Sorry to be so blunt but it’s super important for your ongoing happiness.

 

  • Revisit your dreams…see if they still fit the vision of your future. If not, make new ones and set goals to go after them.

 

  • Decide to make all future decisions deliberately. Don’t allow them to be made for you. You’re in control of your destiny. Make choices so you can be the best version of yourself.

 

  • Make realistic, achievable goals, both short and long-term, and break them into bite-sized pieces so you can feel the joy of each small victory towards your big long-term goal.

 

 

Oh…And Here’s Something Important To Understand

 

Please do NOT feel responsible for other people’s dreams, goal setting, or choices about intentional living. It’s worth having a conversation about it with them…maybe.

 

Better still, just show by example.

 

But…if they don’t GET IT, there’s not much you can do. Choosing to live with intention and purpose is a decision they have to make for their own reasons.

 

Some people are happy just to let life ‘happen to them’ and never worry about wanting to control the outcome.

 

There’s not much you can do if that’s the case…even if it’s someone close to you and you want more for them.

 

 

Be Intentional About Budgeting & Controlling Your Spending

 

Woman controlling her finances with calculator and laptop

 

Being intentional about your budget seems obvious if you think about it.

 

If you’re taking purposeful control over other aspects of your life, consider this one as pretty critical.

 

Making the decision to control your spending and setting a budget is totally in line with being in a financial position to achieve your long-term goal.

 

Those people who aren’t living with intention and are following the ‘accidental’ life strategy tend not to be too careful with spending.

 

Sadly for many, if something goes wrong in life, they usually don’t have any contingency plan.

 

If they don’t have any long-term goal to work towards, they’ll just live day-to-day? It’s short-term satisfaction which is how so many people live and with no real plan for any long-term gain.

 

Taking control over this aspect of your life and having a plan in place to achieve specific goals, is a strategic part of living intentionally with a specific purpose in mind.

 

 

Make The Decision Not To Waste Time On Pointless Pursuits

 

When I decided to start this blog, I knew what I wanted to say, which topics I’m passionate about, and who I hoped my audience to be.

 

But I vacillated for weeks instead of getting started.

 

tiny ginger kitten sleep in someone's hands

 

So…I lost time that would have been much better spent writing rather than watching endless YouTube vids about how to start a blog.

 

Then wasting more time watching cat videos…yeah I know you do it too…go on, admit it!

 

(What can I say…I’m a die-hard cat fan! Who couldn’t love this!)

 

I knew it wasn’t what I should be doing, so I got back to being intentional and felt so much better about spending my time ignoring YouTube, the TV…(the crazy US election stuff), which was fascinating viewing but totally wasted my precious time.

 

By the way, everyone gets off-track at times. Shit happens!. Don’t let it distract you from getting back to your plans.

 

More than that, don’t beat yourself up over it because it’s no biggie. Just review your WHY, and keep going.

 

 

Being Intentional Doesn’t Mean You Have All The Answers

 

None of us do. I guess it’s like everything in life. No-one knows what’s around the corner. Things change and we just have to adapt along the way.

 

2020 has proven to everyone that there are some events in life that we are totally unprepared for. It’s changed our perceptions about how little control we have over the really big issues facing our species.

 

But for me, it’s reinforced how important it is to maintain control over our own lives…and to live them to the best of our ability because I don’t want to regret a single minute.

 

AND…it’s never too late to start living an Intentional Life!

 

Woman with arms outstretched happy to be alive

 

The Importance Of Checking In With Yourself

 

Living with Intention and Purpose is a lifestyle choice. It’s not a ‘done once’ and then move on kinda thing. Life still keeps going on even though you’re working towards your goals.

 

So, it’s important to check in with your goals regularly to see if you’re still heading towards achieving your dreams.

 

The main purpose is to clearly show your goals, the steps you’re taking to work towards them, and prove to yourself that you’re achieving them no matter how small.

 

Small, easily achievable goals are great for boosting your confidence that the bigger goals are reachable.

 

Each time you achieve one it’s hugely empowering because it’s proof that you’re in control, and you know it.

 

One Great Way For Checking In Is With Journaling

 

Unrecognizable Woman journalling

 

Yes, it’s a type of diary…but a really fun one for adults! 

 

It’s also hugely popular so there’s got to be some value in trying it. The number 1 rule is that there aren’t any rules…how refreshing!. It’s all about you, your style, and your creativity.

 

Remember that feeling at school when you got a brand new exercise book? (now I’m showing my age – it’s all tablets now!)

 

I used to looove writing on that first page in my best handwriting. (That didn’t last BTW. By the time I got to page 5, it looked like a spider had crawled across the page!) 

 

That’s what journaling feels like. You’ll look forward to your time spent with just you and your journal. It’s a private and peaceful time.

 

BTW, your handwriting doesn’t matter. The journal is for ‘your eyes only’

 

So, choose a pretty one and personalize it any way you want. Doodle, draw emojis, use colored pencils, be as random or as systematic as you like.

 

 

Intentional Living Is Not The Same For Everyone

 

People value different things so intentional living will mean different things to different people. The main point is to figure out what’s important to you.

 

It’s about simplifying your life so you can find joy and fulfillment, and if the process is making you stressed, take stock of what’s causing it and approach it in a more enjoyable way.

 

Sometimes the very act of taking stock of your life and deciding what relationships to invest in…and which to let go, can be quite daunting. Don’t let it get you down.

 

Remember, you have a plan for creating an amazing life!

 

Always Keep A Positive Mindset Text on white wood background

 

  • Keep a positive mindset. Get into the habit of continually reminding yourself of the positive outcome of being able to achieve your dreams and being in control of your destiny. I know it’s not always easy…but being positive about life is so rewarding!

 

  • Go actively looking for people who are always positive, enjoy life, have fun, and spend time in their company. You’ll probably find they are living intentionally too.

 

  • Take some quiet time and think about what you want out of your ideal life. Really envision it. Write it down. Writing things down somehow helps bring them to life more than just in your head.

 

  • Write some action steps to achieve your ideal life. Think about how you’d like your life to be in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years.

 

Here’s 21 Key Steps For Living An Intentional Life

 

1.   Talk to your partner about what’s not working in your relationship. Is it salvageable? 

 

2.  Talk to family members about any lack of support and how you want that to change.

 

3.   Evaluate your friendships and break free of those that no longer make you feel good.

 

4.   Arrange a meeting with your boss about a raise you feel you’ve earned.     

 

5.   Make plans to study for a new language, skill set, or maybe starting your own business.

 

6.   Start a budget specifically for the holiday you intend to take.

 

7.   Make short-term goals towards a bigger long-term plan to quit your job and/or travel.

 

8.   Keep your goals constantly in your mind by journaling.

 

9.   Check-in with yourself regularly to help stay on track.

 

10.  Take a day by day approach. It’s not a race, it’s a journey and one worth planning. 

 

11.  Take responsibility for your decisions and actions. Don’t be swayed by others.

 

12.  Prioritize your mental health by staying away from ‘toxic’ negative people. 

 

13.  Surround yourself with like-minded positive, who also have a purpose in life.

 

14.  Keep well-rested. It’s so much easier to stay on track when you’re rested.

 

15.  Stay healthy. Take responsibility for it. You have dreams planned now!

 

16.  Celebrate each goal you achieve along the way towards your major goal.               

 

17.  Be grateful for what you have and are achieving in your life. It keeps you ‘grounded’

 

18.  Be intentional about so many aspects of your life, not just achieving your dreams.

 

19.  Keep a budget for all aspects of your life, not just your dream. It’s a great habit.

 

20.  Make time for YOU. Self-care is so important for maintaining a positive mindset. 

 

21.  Limit SM consumption. It’s good fun to connect..but it’s a time-suck and can be negative.

 

Something To Remember  

 

Other people have their own issues to deal with. Brutal though it sounds, unless you’re a professional counselor they’re not your responsibility. Trust me, you don’t need the drama.

 

Conclusion

 

I really hope you have enjoyed this post and that it has helped you to understand the importance and power of living an intentional life.

 

Here’s to you taking back control. Being able to live your life on your terms, fulfilling your dreams, and benefiting from the sense of joy, happiness, and purpose.

 

Let me know in the comments if you have made any plans to change your life. I’d really love to hear about it.