Feeling Lost? Is Your Life Out Of Your Control?
Here’s a super important question for you…
Ever feel like your life isn’t playing out the way you hoped. Like you’ve LOST yourself 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. Life’s just not going in the direction you thought it would.
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.
In my teens, I always wanted to be a Marine Biologist…which in Australia, with so much amazing reef and coastline seems like a valid choice doesn’t it?
But do you think I chose the correct courses? Noooooo!
I did a Business Administration degree which at the time seemed a good idea. WHY? because my friends were doing it. Also, it sounded like a legitimate type of degree (whatever that is).
But 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.
Where was I? oh yes…
Then 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 kids most momentous moments.
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 past years of 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!
So Why Does This Happen? Why Don’t We Live Intentionally?
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.
So enough already…!
It’s time to start living an Intentional Life.
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. 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.
It’s about living your life aligned with your Core Values…not someone else’s version of what you should be doing.
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 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.
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.
Same with a spouse. Contrary to what some people believe, they didn’t purchase you when you get married. They don’t own you!
I don’t care what some elements of society may want to believe. A relationship should be an equal partnership. If for whatever reason you feel the relationship isn’t salvageable and you decide you no longer want to be with that person (and visa-versa) then it’s your choice ….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.
Next, Let’s Talk About Employment
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 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, never going to get rich doing it’ lifestyle.
So we set goals. We 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 (way to go Covid!)…no more stigma. It’s almost become mainstream by necessity!
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 or 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
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.
Being grateful for your health, freedom to choose a different path in life (so many can’t elsewhere in the world), 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’.
So, What Happened To Your Dreams From Years Ago?
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). 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?
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?
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.
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 who aren’t living with intention and are following the ‘accidental’ life strategy tend to not be too careful with spending.
Sadly for some…
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, 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, who I wanted 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.
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!
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 is fascinating viewing at times but totally wastes 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.
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. It’s like everything in life. No-one knows what’s around the corner. Things change and we 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…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.
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 get there 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. It’s proof that you’re in control and you know it.
One Great Way For Checking In Is With Journaling.
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 are NO rules…how refreshing!…it’s all about you, your style, and 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’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.
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. 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 of 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.
Here’s 21 Key Steps For Living An Intentional Life
1. Talk to your partner about what’s not working in your relationship. Decide whether it can be sorted out, or whether it’s time to part ways.
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. Or start making plans to change careers.
5. Make plans to study for a new venture, 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 travel, working online from anywhere in the world (post-covid of course)
8. Keep your goals constantly in sight 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 that hopefully you will embrace for the rest of your life. So go easy on yourself and be patient. changing old habits takes time.
11. Take responsibility for your decisions and actions. Don’t be swayed from them by others who may not see the value in what you are doing.
12. Prioritize your mental health by staying away from ‘toxic’ negative people and naysayers. They have their own issues to deal with and, brutal though it sounds, unless you’re a professional counselor, they’re not your responsibility.Trust me, you don’t need the drama.
13. Surround yourself with like-minded positive, go-getter people who have a purpose in life. These people will be inspiring to be around.
14. Keep well-rested. It’s so much easier to stay on track when you’re rested.
15. Stay healthy. Take responsibility for your health. There’s no point in achieving your dreams if you’re not in a healthy state to enjoy them.
16. Celebrate each goal you achieve along the way towards your major goal. Each one is a big deal. You’re one step closer to your ideal life and achieving your dream.
17. Be grateful for what you have and are achieving in your life. There are always many things to be grateful for, even the simple things. It help to keep you grounded and aligned with your core values.
18. You can choose to be intentional about so many aspects of your life, not just achieving your dreams
19. Keep a budget for other aspects of your life, not just a holiday. This will get you used to planning to control an aspect of your life that is often not under control.
20. Make time for you. Self-care is very important and goes hand-in-hand with taking care of your health and getting plenty of sleep. Make time to reward yourself for the great job you’re doing with your life now.
21. Limit your social media consumption. Yes, it’s good fun to connect..but there’s also a lot of crap and negativity out there in the world, and you don’t need it in your head! Keep that positivity at all costs.
So there you have it.
I really hope you have enjoyed this post and that it has helped you understand the importance and power of living an intentional life. Here’s to you taking back control. Living your life on your terms, fulfilling your dreams, and living your life full of joy, happiness, and purpose.