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6 Steps for Living Intentionally Each Day

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6 Steps for Living Intentionally Each Day

Most people fail to achieve their desired outcome, not because they lack the ability to do so, but rather because they are short on the fortitude to remain intentional in their given pursuit or endeavor.

Being intentional is really as simple as having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, really knowing why you have deemed it worth your time and effort, and identifying what steps you’re going to take each day that will ultimately move you closer to where you want your life to go. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Don’t mistake simple for easy though. It will take effort. And that’s a good thing really, because as you move through the day to day tasks you’re going to be motivated along the way by everything you overcome that’s moving you closer to your intended destination. Simply put, when things are too easy — it’s very easy to become bored and end up not doing those day to day activities which are required to get us to the pinnacle of accomplishment that we are after.

Without a plan, without intentionality, we are like a ship at sea, floating aimlessly, waiting for the waves to move us whichever way they see fit to do so. That’s a pretty grim description isn’t it? Fortunately it doesn’t have to be your reality so long as you are willing to be an active participant in your own success journey.

So that I’m not just spouting off a bunch of theory here for you I’ll share some practical ideas you can put into practice in your daily routine. If you will put them to use you’ll join those that go from wishing things were better, to a person who understands that they have in them the ability to do what’s required to create positive changes in their own lives.

Here are the 6 Steps for Living Intentionally Each Day:

 

1Begin each day in gratitude

This one may sound a little rah-rah to you, but it can really make a big difference with regards to how our overall day goes. Beginning each day from a place of gratitude has many benefits. Not the least of which is that we are forced to realize that there are good things happening in our lives. No matter how hectic things might appear, we do in fact have things to be grateful for. That in and of itself can make a big difference when facing the day ahead.

I like to think of it as rebalancing the things that are happening in my life. When we reconnect with the many reasons we have to be grateful, we inevitably come to realize that we have much to be thankful for. Just as we met with success in the past, so too can we expect to overcome whatever current hurdles we might be facing. It really is a great way to set the tone for your day.

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson

2. Get some exercise

I’m not suggesting marathons or even anything heavy duty here (unless that’s your thing). As for me, I have found that going for a walk or jog shortly after waking up does wonders and literally pays dividends throughout my entire day. I used to put my earbuds in and listen to music or catch up on podcasts. I still do that sometimes, but recently I’ve begun splitting my exercise time, using the first part to enjoy silence and the second part to listen to some music or a podcast (i.e. learning time).

I find that starting out in silence allows all the thoughts that are running through my mind to germinate and work themselves out. I also like to use that time to strategize my day ahead, or projects I have to work on. I do keep a pad or use the note taking app on my phone to write the important thoughts that come to mind for later recall. Needless to say you want to consult with your doctor before taking on any exercise routine, but assuming you’re able this is one thing that can really be helpful.

 

3. Journal

This really is a terrific way to reconnect with what success means to you. As I said before, it’s important that you have a clear definition of what achievement looks like to you. It would amaze you just how many people run through their daily lives never fully celebrating their accomplishments along the way. One of the surest ways to avoid that is to track your day to day progress and have a mechanism for tracking your progress. Your journal allows you to do just that.

 

4. Write down your daily To Do/Actions List

Prioritize the things that when completed will give you the greatest results and outcome. Remember that not all things are created equal when it comes to achievement. For example, let’s say your position in the company or business you work in requires you to do both administrative related tasks, as well as generating revenue, or calling on clients to make sales.

Certainly, it would be important to accomplish everything that was required of you, but you would do well to give the income producing activities priority in just about every instance. To give another example, in my business it would be very easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks that pop up. While things like checking email, replying to requests, editing contributed articles and such are important, and need completing.

It’s much more important that I give priority to activities such as personal writing, scheduling newsletter issues to go out, making contacts with industry colleagues, and working with consulting clients. In short, I don’t neglect the less important items I identify that need doing, I just prioritize things by level of importance and am careful to delegate the things others can do. Look for opportunities to do the same in your life and you are sure to benefit as a result.

 

5. Make time for learning

Be intentional (there’s that pesky word again!) about learning and improving your skillsets. We are either learning and open to new things or we’re getting stagnant. I’m not saying you have to fill your mind with worthless facts about things which hold no interest to you. What I’m suggesting is that you commit to learning something new in your given profession, or an area you’re passionate about. Doing this on a consistent basis can move you into expert territory which can open up all sorts of new life opportunities. Plus, you get to grow your knowledge along the way.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

6. Review your daily progress and rewrite the next days To Do / Actions List

This really speaks for itself. It’s one thing to identify what needs to be done, and why, but unless you keep those things front and center as a reminder it will be too easy to get sidetracked. I’m big on the saying, “what gets our attention, gets done, more often than not.

 

Remember that being intentional really gets down to making the decision to live your life with the realization that you have the choice to either live in reactionary mode, that is, reacting to things that life throws your way, or you can follow the steps shared above and lead an intentional life.

One that you plan out, take the necessary actions on, adjust to as needed, and ultimately feel a heck of a lot more accomplished for having made the decision to live your life in this way.

Remember, it’s your life, LIVE BIG! Thank you for reading my article!
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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Shaik

    Aug 6, 2015 at 5:32 am

    Dear Hinds, Thank you for the article. Prayer,Exercise,Journal great way to kick start the day. I would practice them.

    • Josh Hinds

      Aug 7, 2015 at 5:16 am

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. Give the things suggested a try. I think you’ll find doing so helpful. I know they certainly make a positive impact on my life.

      All the best,
      Josh

  2. Lawrence Berry

    Aug 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    One of the things that will allow you to really strive to reach your personal excellence in life is to live your life with intention. So many people are living life kind of like a zombie and are complacent with their life, never leaning more or striving for more. Progress is the secret to happiness and it have to be intentionally sought after if you want to get anywhere to reaching it. These are some great tips to live your life with intention.

    • Josh Hinds

      Aug 3, 2015 at 3:12 am

      Lawrence, you make some great points. Sadly, many people let life “happen to them”, instead of being an active participant. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  3. Travel the Life

    Aug 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Really useful post. Sometimes we forget to learn more about the topics in whic we are interested, so we can be in a standby moment; so totally agree this is one of the most important issues to perform.

    • Josh Hinds

      Aug 3, 2015 at 3:14 am

      Glad that you found the post useful. You’re right, being a lifelong learner is incredibly important.

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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