Make Smarter Choices: 5 Tips for Living More Intentionally

May 21, 2024

Intentional living is all about making conscious choices to live your life deliberately, with purpose and meaning. Rather than sleepwalking through life on autopilot, intentional living means waking up and taking control of the direction you want your life to take.

Living intentionally has numerous benefits. It can help you feel more fulfilled, aligned, and empowered. When you make intentional choices, you are taking active responsibility for your life rather than passively letting circumstances control you. This leads to a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction.

Intentionally choosing how to spend your time and energy also leads to improved productivity. With purposeful living, you are focusing on what matters most to you rather than getting distracted by less important activities. Your days become more efficient and effective when aligned with your core values and goals.

In this article, we will explore 5 powerful tips for living more intentionally:

1. Clarify Your Values
2. Set Meaningful Goals
3. Practice Mindfulness
4. Foster Meaningful Relationships
5. Continually Evaluate Your Life

By putting these suggestions into practice, you can take control of your choices and start living every day with clear intention and purpose.

Tip 1: Clarify Your Values

Your values are your core beliefs and what matters most to you. When you live intentionally, your values serve as an internal compass to guide your thoughts and behaviors. Clarifying your values is essential for making smarter choices aligned with what you care about.

Here are some steps for identifying your core values:

  • Make a list of what's important to you in all areas of life - family, relationships, career, health, etc.
  • Reflect on your recent decisions and behaviors. What motivated you? What makes you feel fulfilled? This can reveal your values.
  • Consider what principles you want your life to represent and what legacy you hope to leave.
  • Prioritize which values matter most by ranking them. The top 5-10 are likely your core values.

Once you've clarified your values, align your life with them:

  • Evaluate how your current behaviors reflect your values. Are there gaps to close?
  • Set goals and make decisions guided by your values rather than external pressures.
  • Build daily habits and routines that allow you to live out your values.
  • Surround yourself with people who share your values and support your personal growth.
  • When you face difficult choices, consult your values to maintain an intentional life aligned with what matters most.

Clarifying your core values provides a solid foundation for living more intentionally. When your life reflects your authentic values, you'll find greater meaning, fulfillment and direction.

Tip 2: Set Meaningful Goals

Setting meaningful goals is a critical part of living intentionally. Goals give direction and purpose to your days. With well-defined goals that align with your values, you can ensure you're spending your limited time on this planet on the things that matter most.

When setting goals, make sure they are SMART:

  • Specific - Clearly define what you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable - Include quantifiable metrics to track progress.
  • Achievable - Set realistic goals you can accomplish with effort.
  • Relevant - Choose goals that align with your values and vision.
  • Time-bound - Set a deadline to create accountability.

Here are some examples of intentional living goals:

  • Spend at least 30 minutes every day this month connecting meaningfully with my spouse.
  • Read one book per month this year on personal development topics like mindfulness and gratitude.
  • Take a weekend nature retreat once per quarter to recharge.
  • Volunteer 10 hours per month at the animal shelter to give back.

Setting goals like these that align with your values helps ensure you're living the life you want, rather than passively letting life happen to you. Evaluate your goals regularly and align them to your values as you grow and change. Living intentionally requires continuously refining your direction to make the most of this gift called life.

Tip 3: Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware in the current moment, without judgment. It involves tuning into your thoughts, feelings, and sensations and simply observing them without attaching meaning or analysis. Practicing mindfulness can provide many benefits that facilitate intentional living:

  • It reduces stress and anxiety. Mindfulness helps calm the mind and body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the "rest and digest" response. This leads to lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels.
  • It increases focus and concentration. By training your mind to be present, you avoid distractions and can better direct your attention. This helps you make smarter choices aligned with your values and goals.
  • It enhances self-awareness. Mindfulness allows you to objectively examine your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This self-reflection provides insight so you can make more conscious decisions.
  • It improves emotional regulation. By observing feelings without reacting, you can better manage difficult emotions like anger or anxiety. This equanimity allows you to respond thoughtfully.
  • It cultivates gratitude. Mindfulness makes you more attuned to the present and aware of small joys throughout the day that you can appreciate. This sense of gratitude boosts mood and life satisfaction.

Here are some beginner tips to practice mindfulness meditation:

  • Set aside 5-10 minutes daily to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Use an anchor like counting or repeating a word to stay present.
  • Notice when your mind wanders, and gently return your focus to the breath without self-judgment. The act of continually returning is mindfulness.
  • Do a body scan, slowly moving your attention through different body parts to notice any tension or sensations.
  • Practice mindful eating by going slowly, savoring tastes and textures without distraction.
  • Take mindful walking breaks where you carefully pay attention to each step and the environment around you.

By regularly practicing mindfulness meditation and integrating a mindful approach to everyday activities, you can live with greater intentionality, aligning your actions with your values and goals. Mindfulness creates the foundation of awareness that allows you to make smarter, more conscious choices.

Tip 4: Foster Meaningful Relationships

Our relationships play a pivotal role in our well-being and life satisfaction. While surface-level relationships can provide some enjoyment, deep and meaningful bonds truly nourish us. When you have people in your life who know and accept you fully, it creates a profound sense of belonging. This allows you to show up authentically as your true self.

Meaningful relationships take effort to build and maintain. Make spending quality time with loved ones a priority. Identify a few key people you want to foster deeper bonds with. Reach out to them regularly and make plans to connect in person when possible. Share your feelings, hopes, and struggles to allow for true intimacy. Provide emotional support when they need it, even if it means going out of your way. Show your gratitude for having them in your life.

Relationships thrive on trust, vulnerability, and mutual understanding. Don't be afraid to open up, ask for help, and speak your truth with those closest to you. Accept them fully, flaws and all. Offer forgiveness readily. Approach conflicts from a place of love rather than anger. Let go of grudges and tiny irritations that don't really matter. Laugh together as much as possible.

When you feel securely connected in rich relationships, it empowers you to live more intentionally. You have a solid support system to lean on during tough times. You have people who appreciate you for who you are. With the foundation of meaningful relationships, you can take more risks, embrace new directions, and stay true to your deepest values. Your squad will cheer you on as you live your life with greater purpose and meaning.

Tip 5: Continually Evaluate Your Life

Living with intention requires regularly stepping back to examine your life and assess if you are staying true to your values. Self-reflection allows you to course correct when needed. Here are some principles for effective self-evaluation:

  • Ask yourself probing questions. At least once per month, spend time in self-examination. Ask yourself questions like: Am I living according to my values? Do my daily activities align with my goals? Am I feeling fulfilled and satisfied? What changes do I need to make?
  • Compare your life today to the past. Think back to who you were 5 years ago. Have you grown as a person? Are you moving in the right direction? Reflect on the path that led you here.
  • Envision your ideal future self. Imagine who you want to become in 5 years. Are your current actions leading you there? What needs adjustment to close the gap between your present and future self?
  • Listen to trusted advisors. The people who know you best can provide an outside perspective on your life. Ask for their candid feedback and take it seriously.
  • Make course corrections as needed. Be willing to change your habits, activities, behaviors, or relationships if they are misaligned with your values and aspirations. Don't rigidly cling to things that don't serve your growth.

Regular self-examination provides the insight needed to live more intentionally. Be honest with yourself, and don't be afraid to adjust your path if it's not leading you to fulfillment. With consistent effort, you can create a life true to your deepest values.

Putting It All Together

Living with intention requires ongoing effort, but implementing even small changes can have a big impact. Here's a quick recap of the 5 tips covered in this guide:

1. Clarify Your Values - Identify your core values and use them to guide your decisions and actions.

2. Set Meaningful Goals - Define short and long-term goals aligned with your values to give your life direction and purpose.

3. Practice Mindfulness - Increase self-awareness through activities like meditation, journaling, and reflecting on experiences. This allows you to make conscious choices.

4. Foster Meaningful Relationships - Prioritize connections that energize and inspire you. Surround yourself with people who share your values.

5. Continually Evaluate Your Life - Regularly assess how you spend your time and resources. Make course corrections to realign with your values and goals.

The journey towards living intentionally begins with your next step. Start small by picking one area to focus on first, whether it's clarifying values, setting a goal, or building a new habit. Over time, these small changes will snowball into a more purposeful life.

For additional guidance, check out the many books, blogs, podcasts, and courses on intentional living. A few great resources to start with include Essentialism by Greg McKeown, The Minimalists podcast, and The Art of Living course by the Art of Living Foundation. The key is finding resources that resonate with you personally. With some self-reflection and consistent effort, you'll be well on your way to living a more fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don't know my values or life purpose?

It's completely normal not to have a clear sense of your values or life purpose. The journey of self-discovery is lifelong. Focus on learning more about yourself through reflection, trying new experiences, and having conversations with those close to you. Over time, your values and purpose will become clearer.

How can I stay motivated to live intentionally?

Living with intention requires commitment and discipline. When motivation fades, focus on your reasons for wanting to live intentionally. Reread your values, goals and vision. Share your journey with a supportive friend. Reflect on how intentional living has enhanced your life already. Consider how you'll feel if you give up. Motivation fluctuates, so persist through the ups and downs.

What if others don't understand my lifestyle choices?

It's your life to live. While considering others' perspectives can be worthwhile, your choices should ultimately align with your own values. Explain your approach respectfully. Set boundaries if needed. Focus on how intentional living benefits you rather than convincing others. Stay open to learning as your journey evolves.

How do I balance intentional living with obligations?

Be realistic about what you can manage. Prioritize self-care. Ask for support when needed. Schedule time for what matters most. Practice saying no to nonessential duties. Explain to others how you want to live and work collaboratively to find solutions. Every situation is different, so adapt as needed. Do what you can until you have more freedom.

What if I set goals but don't achieve them?

Goals provide direction but remember flexibility. Focus on your efforts rather than just results. Adjust timelines or modify goals as needed. Don't give up completely because that guarantees failure. Failure is feedback to help you improve. Reflect on what you have learned and try again. Progress may feel slow but every step forward matters. Keep your eyes on the big picture.


Living intentionally requires dedicating time for self-reflection and being mindful of your choices. While it may seem daunting at first, the rewards are well worth the effort. When you clarify your values, set meaningful goals, practice mindfulness, foster relationships, and continually evaluate your life, you begin to live in alignment with your true self.

Rather than sleepwalking through each day on autopilot, you become an active participant in your own life. You gain a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and gratitude for each new day. Your relationships flourish, as you invest time in the people who matter most. You make wiser decisions that reflect your priorities and values. Ultimately, living with intention allows you to shape the life you want, instead of passively accepting whatever comes your way.

The tips in this article are simple ways to become more intentional, starting today. Identify a few small changes you can make, then build momentum over time. You have the power to create a deeply meaningful life. It all begins with your next choice. What will it be?



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