Imagine waking up to a life that energizes you in every possible way. Imagine carefully crafting every aspect of your life (relationships, work, rituals, health) in a way that is uniquely designed to make you feel more alive, more joyful, and more fulfilled. Maybe you are thinking to yourself right now, that it seems like a pie in the sky dream because for you, life just isn’t working. Most days you feel like life is happening to you, not for you. You feel disempowered, overwhelmed, and stuck. How could you possibly wake up energized in this chaos we are experiencing?
A lot of times when we are feeling this way, it is because we have forgotten to live intentionally, the way God designed.
Living intentionally doesn’t just happen by accident, rather it is about being curious, making conscious choices and taking deliberate actions every day to bring about the outcomes and feelings you desire in your life.
Intentional living means to live by design not by default. To live by design means that you no longer live on auto-pilot. You are learning to let go of the belief that your life is the sum of your circumstances. Intentional living is about co-creating your life with the Creator of the Universe (God) to make your highest contribution to the world.
Intentional living starts with curiosity. Christina Crook, Author and TEDx speaker once said, “curiosity is a crucial condition for feeling fulfilled and alive and our need to nourish our capacity for wonder grows as we age.”
In the Bible, we see first-century crowds being curious to hear Jesus teach and that interest, for many, led to hope, healing and a purposeful life. Jesus also encouraged the people He encountered to stop and reflect on what they really were truly desiring and seeking in life and from Him. For example, when Jesus encountered the blind man by the Jericho road, he asked the man “what do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41, NIV) When is the last time you paused and got curious about what an intentional life really looks like for you? If Jesus asked you what you wanted from Him would you know how to answer that question?
Designing your life together with God begins with nurturing a holy curiosity about the Lord and His plans and promises for you. Do you take time to learn more about God or do you feel you’ve gotten so familiar with passages over the years that you can just carve your own path without checking in with God? Curiosity can be the invitation to dig deeper and ask good questions in order to see things through fresh eyes.
The next step to living an intentional life is to set your intentions. For many years, I confess I did this without God’s input. I would ask questions like: What is my life for? What do I want to achieve? And then write down my dreams and desires and go after them. Unfortunately, this practice was all about imposing my own will and not aligning myself with God’s will. When we are operating under our own will and motivations, our identity becomes cemented in the things we do, rather than in the One who called us in the first place. Our perspective is limited to our own imagination instead of leaning into the One who can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’”.
James 4:13-15 (NIV)
Notice that this is not about making plans apart from God, but about being curious about who God wants you to be and what God wants you to do.
One useful exercise is to ask the questions, “Who does God want me to be in regard to my (spirituality, health, mental wellbeing, work, restoration, etc.)? How will I commit to living that out in my daily life? Here are a few examples:
- God calls me to be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8) therefore I am committed to living abundantly with fewer things so that I can spend more time with the people I love and less time managing the things I have and/or worrying about the things I don’t have.
- God calls me to honor my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) therefore I am committed to being strong and healthy so that I can have energy at the end of the day to give my best self to my family.
Once you’ve set your intentions the third step is to align your daily actions. For example, if you’re committed to being strong and healthy, ask yourself: “what broad goals will help me achieve these intentions?” For instance, you could have some broad goals like eat healthier or be more physically active. From there, ask yourself “what day-to-day actions can I take that will add up to my desired result over time?” You may want to set daily goals like eat 4 cups of vegetables per day or walk 3 miles every day.
Know that intentional living is a lot like taking a cross-country road trip. Along your journey, you’ll need to pull over and refuel. You’ll need to stop, put gas in your car, grab a bite to eat and stretch your legs – not once, but multiple times. On your way to living your best life, you need to do the same, which is why the final step in intentional living is to reflect, re-evaluate and revise your plans based on these questions.
- Is this what God wants for my life?
- How’s my progress in regards to the intentions I set?
- What has God been able to accomplish so far in me and through me?
- What have been some of the most powerful learning moments so far?
As you take time to reflect, don’t forget to pause and pray and listen to what God wants to say. Then make a conscious choice to either continue pursuing your goals as is or make revisions to your plan as needed. An intentional life isn’t about perfection, but progress. It’s about being curious and having the courage to step into the purpose that God has called you to. Living an intentional life empowers you to start:
- Becoming a woman who is hungry for God and His word.
- Creating possibilities for your life that energize you and glorify God in the process.
- Living each day on purpose and not just coast through your life.
- Courageously taking leaps of faith and not just wait for better timing or more signs.
- Confidently choosing, even if imperfectly, actions that add to your life, not take away from it.
Wherever God may lead you, know that He desires for you to live intentionally and to live with Him, so that you may experience life to the fullest.