Now that we’re a few weeks into the new year, you’ve likely set your goals and made big plans for the year. But as motivated as you might feel to begin making progress, you’ll more than likely run into the difficulties of making those goals a reality. Women are often pulled in so many directions on a daily basis - work, kids, keeping house, your friends, hobbies - the list goes on. That’s where intentionality comes in.
Intentionality is the state of being purposeful and intentional about your thoughts and actions. You might not realize it, but many of our actions are done out of habit and we spend much of our time on auto-pilot. Following these ingrained habits keeps us from being intentional with our actions.
Before you can start being more intentional with your actions, it’s important to know what you want to be more intentional about. It can be part of your goals or even growing deeper in your values, like wanting to be more patient or empathetic.
If you aren’t already clear on your intentions, take a few minutes to conduct an “intentionality inventory” to help you understand what’s most important in your life right now. Download our free version here:
Once you know your intentions, it will be easier to to make decisions based on those intentions. For example, if your intention is to eat healthier, at dinner time, you can make the choice to eat broccoli instead of French fries or to cook the meal yourself instead of ordering out.
Focusing on your intentions and keeping them in mind when it’s time to make decisions will help you make better decisions that lead you closer to your ideal self.
Overcoming Obstacles to Intentionality
Plan Your Day
Setting aside a little time to plan your day in the morning or the night before can help you use your time for what’s most important. There will be some things in your schedule that you can’t adjust, like work commitments, but you might also find more time than you think for activities you want to prioritize like exercise.
It also helps to specifically schedule time for activities like meditation or reading if that’s not something you normally would put in your schedule, but want to prioritize more. Scheduling time for the things that are most important to you will help you give them the necessary space in your day.
Track Your Time
Another way to help you become more intentional is to track the amount of time you spend on various tasks throughout your day. Accounting for each minute of your day may be a little tedious at first, but you’ll also be surprised to find how much time you likely waste on things like scrolling through your phone.
When you see the areas of your day where you waste time, you can replace them with actions that are more aligned with your intentions. Being intentional with your time instead of just falling into habitual routines will help you reach your goals.
We may have the best of plans to quit eating junk food or binging Netflix in the evening, but when you get home from work, worn out, it’s all too easy to grab a snack and flop on the couch.
If part of your intention requires breaking bad habits, remove the temptations of those habits to make it easier to follow through with your intention. Don’t buy the junk food or put it in a cabinet that’s hard to reach. Make it easier for you to make decisions that move you toward your ideal self.
On the flip side of removing temptations, you also want to make it easier to cultivate the good habits. If you want to read more, set a book on your bedside table to remind you to read before bed instead of browsing social media. Set an alarm to exercise as a reminder.
The world is full of clever ways to remind us to work on those good intentions - from apps that remind you to drink more water to watches that vibrate to remind you to take a screen break. Whatever your intention is, there's probably a reminder of some type out there to help you!
Review Your Day
To make sure you’re staying on track, and to help you see areas where you can continue to improve, take a little time at the end of the day to review how it went. Reflect on what went well and how you could do things differently tomorrow.
Taking time for reflection at the end of the day can also help you get to know your emotions better. Building self-awareness is critical to any self-improvement.
In addition to daily reflections, also try to incorporate monthly check-ins and even longer term check-ins like quarterly or yearly. This will help you see your progress over time better than the tiny changes from day to day and also help you to refocus on bigger picture goals as necessary.
Visualize Your Intentions
Finally, another way to help you be more intentional is to put your intentions front and center with a vision board or similar items. Having a visual reminder will keep those intentions in the front of your mind throughout the day.
Whether you want to create full vision board or just tape a favorite quote/picture to your mirror, keep it somewhere you can see it frequently - your bathroom mirror, bedroom dresser, or even the fridge - whatever works for you.
Being intentional is a process, so don’t get frustrated if change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s hard to overcome our deeply ingrained habits. Taking small steps each day toward being more intentional will add up over time and you’ll become a better version of yourself and reach your goals.