Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe
5 signs you might not be living as intentionally as you think.

5 signs you might not be living as intentionally as you think.


Intentional (adj.): done with intention or purpose; intended

When you think about the big picture of life, it seems ridiculous and irresponsible to not live one’s life “with intention” or “on purpose.” But that is exactly what many of us are doing. We often allow life to happen to us rather than choosing how we live our lives.

Intentional living means letting your ideologies (the things you believe) and values (the things you hold worthy) permeate and dictate your lifestyle. Sadly, for many of us, our beliefs and values are simply piled on top of everything else in our lives to give us a semblance of meaning, much like we use salt and pepper to make a bland meal palatable.

What a sad way to live!

It’s easy to look at our lives and think, “That’s not me, I’m okay. I live pretty intentionally! I make my own choices...don’t I?”

Do you?

Here are some signs you might not be living as intentionally as you think:

1. You feel like your life revolves around one dominant thing.

Your job, your kids, your housework - whatever it is, it dominates your life. You may feel like you wake up, do this thing, and go to bed, barely managing to squeeze in some other things along the way. You feel as though you hit the ground running each morning only to fall into bed exhausted at night.

When your life revolves predominantly around one thing, that thing is dictating the rest of your life. This lack of balance steals your time, causes unnecessary stress, and leaves you feeling less than your best. Ultimately, it will burn you out.

If you are feeling this way, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Why does this thing dominate your time? Are you afraid to put boundaries on it? Do you derive value or identity from it? Even if this thing is your kids, remember - one of the healthiest examples you can set for your kids is living a balanced life.

Decide what boundaries need to be placed on the thing dominating your life, and begin to set those boundaries.

2. You are dissatisfied with the way you manage your time.

There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really care about. Never enough time to spend with your family, or to take up that hobby, or be creative. You feel as though you are always having to put off the things that rejuvenate your soul the most.

Spoiler: better planning and scheduling won’t solve this problem.

Only a refocusing of your values will help you begin to carve out time for the things that bring joy to your life. If you long to read more, start bringing a book with you wherever you go. If you enjoy knitting or needlepoint, bring that along. When you have a chance, do that thing, even if only for a few minutes. You will never find any more time than you already have, but you can use more of the time you have for the things that matter most to you.

3. You lack motivation in your life.

Or, to put it another way, you’re often “in a funk.”  You often find it hard to focus and give your best in your job, at school, or whatever you spend your time doing. You find it difficult to be truly present where you are, and are often zoning out.

In her book The Best Yes (a read I highly recommend!), Lysa TerKeurst writes:

A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.

Are you overwhelmed? Or are you underwhelmed? I find that if I am of a well-rested mind, soul, and spirit, I am extraordinarily productive. Perhaps it isn’t that we have too much to do, but that we are experiencing a kind of undernourishment of the soul. If we put the right things in our bodies, we have more energy. If we put the right things in our minds, souls, and spirits, we have capacity to do more and greater things.

Where is your mind, soul, or spirit underwhelmed? What are some small things you can start doing today that will feed those areas of your life so that you will be able to fuel your motivation to do everything else.

4. You lack direction in your life.

You struggle to make the decisions you really want to make for yourself and find yourself missing out on things you care about because you are too paralyzed to make a move in any direction. Maybe you feel as though life is happening around you - something you’re observing but not really participating in.

A lack of direction is a clear indicator that you might not be living an intentional life. If you’re not sure what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, it’s time to evaluate your life and make some decisions!

5. “No” might as well be a four-letter word.

Maybe you feel the weight of others’ expectations, or maybe you’re afraid to disappoint or anger others. Maybe you like loading yourself up with random tasks and commitments because it makes you feel like you can handle more than the average person...but it’s killing you. You’re exhausted, but you feel like you’re caught in a cycle you can’t get out of.

An inability to say no to the demands or requests of others means that you are living others’ purposes for you - not your own! Remember:

Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less. | Lysa TeurKeurst

Is what you’ve said yes to worth the less of you there is to go around? If not, choose one or two commitments you can start saying “no” to today.

Challenge: Choose one change you can begin to make today. Please feel free to share what change you decided to make in the comments below.

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