Many of us reach a stage in midlife where we feel we have lost control over their lives. That we’ve somehow lost direction. This post is about How To Live With Intention and Purpose and 21 Critical Steps to help you so you can enjoy your best life possible.
Are You Feeling Lost In Midlife?
Here’s a super important question for you.
Ever feel like things aren’t playing out the way you imagined? Like you’ve lost your way somehow and 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 this question is particularly important when you reach midlife for some crucial reasons…
- kids left home
- you are aware that you’re aging
- there are dreams you want to realize
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?
Yes, this could have been me. 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 sort of stands me in good stead as I work for myself, and maybe came in handy with my corporate sales career, but it wasn’t really necessary as they don’t teach you how to sell in a business degree.
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 made out to be AND, we missed many of our kid’s most momentous moments.
We watch our kids grow up, get married, have kids of their own…now what? Empty Nest Syndrome is very real but depending on how you look at it, it can be a blessing.
Look at what you’ve achieved. You raised human being to be self-sufficient adults…and maybe with kids of their own.
Well done you!
Now I understand that this loss of direction doesn’t affect everyone. But there are many people, women AND men who go through this period of limbo wondering what to do with the next stage of their lives.
Looking back, although I can say I’ve enjoyed my life, 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!
Why You Should Live With Intention And Purpose
So many peopIe 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.
Even if you’re past 50 like I am, there’s plenty of life left and it’s got to be lived with intention and 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!
Why It’s Powerful To Live With Intention & Purpose
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…everyone else will be too busy thinking about their own”.
It’s a brutal truth.
Ultimately only you can be responsible for how you choose to live…an amazing 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.
Live Life Aligned With Your Core Values
It seems like a tough thing to do but, 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?
When you choose to live with intention and purpose, you really need to take all these relationships and how they make you feel into account.
We all have an idea of what our core values are. How we want our lives to be lived. Including how we want and need to be treated. With this in mind, evaluate the relationships in your life.
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 mean they always behave with your best interests at heart.
Everyone has their own agendas…it’s a fact of life.
Never Live Someone Else’s Version Of Your Life
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.
“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before other peoples’ choices make us” – Richie Norton
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 Friendships…Are they Still Satisfying?
People change as life progresses. Just as you have, so have your friends.
Their lives, experiences and values naturally evolve over time. If being in their company now leaves you feeling criticized, unsupported and unhappy…it’s time to cut the friendship loose.
You are worth more that…and so is your life!
Being unhappy with some members of your social circle isn’t unusual. Remember, they’ve been through their own life-changing experiences so they may no longer share the same values as you.
If they don’t align with who you’ve become that’s ok. Nothing wrong with moving on. Some friendships last a lifetime, but most do don’t.
Consider The Relationship With Your Spouse
Difficult subject but a biggie…and one that some women really want and need to address. So let’s spend a bit of time on it.
Contrary to what some people like to believe, you didn’t purchase each other when you got married.
No-one owns you!
I don’t care what some factions of society may want to believe. A relationship should be an equal partnership (hetero or same sex).
Meaning, if for whatever reason you feel the relationship no longer brings you happiness, it may be time to walk away.
Your life is way too short to spend time in any relationship that doesn’t uplift you, support you, and bring you happiness and joy.
Believe it when I tell you, more and more women are choosing to move on from a spouse they no longer have anything in common with, or is unsupportive or abusive.
Also, abuse isn’t always physical. Emotional Abuse is very insidious and just as damaging, leading to serious anxiety, depression, and a sense of hopelessness.
Some partners are not even aware they do this. Like many people, they understand abuse to be only ‘physical’.
Be Aware, Emotional Abuse Takes Many Forms
From refusing to listening to anything you have to say as if your opinion isn’t of value, or behaving as though you aren’t educated enough to have a valid opinion.
Maybe making a joke from putting you down in front of people, constantly making unkind comments at home, or just refusing to interact with you because they consider you deserve punishment for something.
Sadly, this just may be a peculiarity of your partner’s personality. Often to other people, they may come across as charming and very amiable. But for you, it’s a devastating situation to be in.
Not only can it be an extremely unhappy way to spend your life, but also you feel that no-one you tell is going to believe you…their reaction is likely to be “he’s just so lovely”.
If you need immediate help:
- USA Resource USA
- UK Resource UK
- Australia Resource Australia
- Canada Resource Canada
Intentional Living Will Be Life-Changing
BTW, I know that you can be unhappy in a relationship where there’s no abuse involved. You may have just grown apart.
Personally, I’m not sure it’s natural to spend your entire life with the same person.
Some would see it as admirable to do so…almost like a mark of achievement.
BUT, we all change so much throughout life. Why would we assume that both we and our partner would stay aligned in our lives over the course of years?
I know my view will be controversial, but as we go through life it often starts to become obvious to some people that their lives with their partners are diverging.
I understand that choosing to leave your relationship isn’t always something that’s easy to achieve.
There are financial considerations, and fear. The fear of being alone after so many years. Fear that you won’t meet new people. Fear of changing everything you’re used to. Or even fear of what an abusive partner may do as a result.
But it IS DOABLE!
Of course for some women it’s not a choice. They have lost their partner and MUST find a way to move on with their life.
I meet single women of all ages traveling in other countries all the time. It’s scary but once you’ve taken the plunge, the sense of freedom and purpose will be life-changing. I’ll do a post dedicated to this subject soon.
In the meantime, quietly plan!
Why Battle Away In A Job You Hate?
This is an area of your life that really needs some intentional & purposeful choices made, because you spend soooo much of your life at work.
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!
Isn’t there a better way to live your precious life!
Maybe it’s time to consider what you may have always wanted to do.
Could this be the opportunity to change and work according to your core values? Few people actually do this and if you can achieve it, you will find it much more fulfilling.
My husband and I reached this stage in life. We 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 some goals in place to escape.
Maybe start an online business in your spare time alongside your day job…with the intention and plan for it to become your new full-time career.
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.
Control Your Life & Set Intentional Goals
Remember, you still have a lot of life to live. Make plans to live it well!
This will look different to everyone. For some it will be moving to a quieter part of the country to enjoy a more peaceful life. For others it may be changing jobs or choosing to work for yourself from home.
My husband and I opted for a life that would make us happy…a life on our terms, setting our own hours, and going wherever we wanted. For us that meant 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
If there is ANY good to find as a result of Covid-19 it’s that there’s no longer a stigma associated with freelancing or remote work. It’s almost become mainstream by necessity!
You can’t imagine the sense of freedom until you try it…but plan it. Taking a leap of faith can work but it’s scary, particularly now we’re older!
Of course, the pandemic has interrupted our travel plans but it’s the same for millions of people…and for many in much, much worse ways.
We got stuck in the highlands of Vietnam and have spent 16 months there…very beautiful and safe, riding out Covid-19. Now we have made the move to San Miguel De Allende in Mexico. Also a very stunning place and safe.
PLUS, we got vaccinated here which is a huge bonus and for which we are very grateful.
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. Or, maybe you would be super happy working from your home rather than commuting forever. (Starting your own blog)
Whatever your new plans are, it doesn’t matter if they don’t happen immediately. The idea is to decide ‘intentionally’ on a plan and set achievable goals to make it happen.
Intentionally Choose To Say ‘No’ Without Guilt
Part of Living with intention & purpose 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 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. You don’t need to compromise. Too many people spend their lives doing it.
So from now on, if it doesn’t align with your values, then the answer is No!
Intentionally Choose To Be A Positive Person
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.
Intentionally Choose To Ge Grateful
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’.
Intentionally Revisit Your Dreams From Years Ago
If not now, when?
If this sounds like a challenge…it’s supposed to be. Seriously. Life keeps marching on! When was the last time you yearned to follow your dreams?
Do you often catch yourself wondering about what might have been?
Time to stop dreaming girl!
Start to plan now to make those dreams a reality. Discuss them with your partner. You may be very surprised that they want to embrace your dreams too. (Related Post you May Like)
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 purpose…not by accident. I am pretty sure we only get one shot at it. So, time to get on with it my friend. Make some plans.
Is Intention Living starting to make sense now?
Be Intentional And 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. Going against these can have unexpected negative effects on you.
- 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. Living a life you love is totally joyful.
- 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 intentions and 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. Don’t live a version of life that someone else expects of you.
- 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, and celebrate all your achievements.
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 think they would really benefit from a life change.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with not having plans. I have friends who genuinely can’t understand why I wanted to go anywhere outside my own city in Australia, let alone country!
I can’t understand why people wouldn’t want to because the world is exciting!
But no probs…each to their own.
Be Intentional About Controlling Your Budget
Being intentional about budgeting seems obvious if you think about it.
This applies to any lifestyle you choose. Whether you’re traveling or staying put at home. If you’re taking purposeful control over other aspects of your life, consider budgeting as being 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 you don’t have any long-term goal to work towards, you will 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.
I was the same.
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.
Learn To Be Intentional With Your Time
When you have a plan in place for what you want to achieve, make the decision not to waste time on pointless pursuits.
For example…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.
So…I lost time that would have been much better spent writing rather than watching endless YouTube vids about how to start a blog. Instead, I went down the ‘rabbit hole’ of watching cat videos.
Yes, I know you’ve done 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.
Intentional Living 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 proved 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 one. single. minute!
AND…it’s never too late to start living an Intentional Life! (Related Post You May Like)
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 plus 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 of your life, and you know it.
Check-In With Journaling
Yes it’s type of diary, a really fun one for adults.
It’s also hugely popular so there’s got to be some value in trying it. Remember…the number 1 rule is that there aren’t any rules…how refreshing!.
It’s all about you, your style, and your creativity…AND your goals.
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, because by the time I got to page 5, it looked like a spider had crawled across the page!)
That’s what journaling feels like…the joy of that first page! I’ll bet you will 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.
So, 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!
- 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.
21 Critical Steps For Living With Intention And Purpose
1. Talk to your partner about your relationship. Is it salvageable?
2. Tell your family what support you would like from them.
3. Evaluate your friendships. Lose those that no longer feel good
4. Arrange a meeting with your boss about a raise you’ve earned.
5. Make plans to study a language, skill set, or start a business.
6. Start a budget specifically for the holiday you intend to take.
7. Make short-term & long-term plans 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 a journey, one worth planning.
11. Take responsibility for your decisions. Don’t be swayed by others.
12. Prioritize your mental health. Stay away from ‘toxic’ people.
13. Surround yourself with like-minded positive people.
14. Stay well-rested. It’s easier to stay on track when you’re rested.
15. Stay healthy. Take responsibility for it. You have plans now!
16. Celebrate each step you achieve towards your major goal.
17. Be grateful for what you achieve in life. It keeps you ‘grounded’
18. Be intentional about all aspects of your life, not just your goals.
19. Keep a budget for all aspects of your life. It’s a great habit.
20. Make time for YOU. Self-care is important for a positive mindset.
21. Limit SM usage. It’s fun…but it’s a time-suck and can be negative.
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 below if you have made any plans to change your life…I’d love to hear about it.