The Beginner's Guide To Living With Intention

Written by Ashley Wilhite

Do you know what kind of life you want to live?

I thought I did, but really I was just passenger sitting idly, allowing things to happen, situations to change, and moments to pass by.

I thought I wanted to marry my college sweetheart and move to the suburbs. I thought I wanted to finish my Master’s degree, open my own private practice, and start a family. All before turning 30, of course.

Then I got a phone call that changed everything.

My father was in the hospital. He was sick and we only had a few days to say goodbye.

After the funeral I began journaling as a way to cope with the grief and process what had just happened. I filled page after page as I poured out my anger, my sadness, and my confusion.

Writing through my feelings became a powerful means for me to connect with myself. For the first time, I became aware of my deepest desires, my values, my hopes and dreams.

With the passing of my father, I quickly learned that our time here on Earth is too precious to live without purpose. So, I made a commitment to myself and made it my personal mission to live every day with intention.

I want to mindfully choose how I spend each day, how I exert my energy, what thoughts fill my mind, what food fills my body, and what environment surrounds me. I want to choose my thoughts because I know they create my feelings. I want to choose the direction I’m headed and where I’ll end up in the future.

It's been five years since the phone rang that day.

Since then, I quit my 9-5 job and started my own coaching business where I help women figure out what they actually want. I spend my mornings running along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and my evenings sipping wine, reading, and dreaming up my next big travel adventure.

The suburbs and the corporate ladder are no longer dreams of mine, especially now that I’m clear on my values.

After taking a step back, analyzing my life, and discovering what was most important to me, I have been able to intentionally create a life I love.

I know how choosing to live with intention can radically improve your levels of happiness and fulfillment, so I want to share four tips with you on how to begin living an intentional life:

1. Dream big.

Let your mind wander. What would a completely joyful, radiant, love-filled life look like for you? A bungalow in Costa Rica? A daily yoga practice? Starting your own business so you can walk away from your desk job?

Only consider the “whats” right now, not the “hows” (you’ll figure that out later). We want to focus on what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be living, and who you’re spending your time with, not how you’re going to make it happen. If you jump into the logistics right away, your mind will shut down and this brainstorming-dream session will come to a close.

2. Uncover your values.

When you know what’s important to you, you can use that as a compass for each decision you make. If your values include self-acceptance, health, and gratitude, you’ll likely choose to spend your days practicing yoga, drinking green juice, and meditating, instead of drinking gin with your girlfriends until 2 a.m. at the local bar. So, what lights you up?

3. Prepare for resistance.

It’s natural to feel increased fear and self-doubt when examining your life, your choices, and your routines. But know that resistance is a sign that you’re on the right path, heading toward your higher self. If it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t be scared. The resistance is a sign that you must keep going and do the thing you’re scared to do.

4. Take a step forward.

Are your actions aligned with your values and your goals? Make sure that what you’re doing today is preparing you for the kind of person you want to be a year from now. What can you do today to get you one step closer to that peaceful, happy life you’ve imagined for yourself? Go do it!

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