When you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.
What are you aiming for?
For a long time I thought simple living meant that I should not be a goal-driven person. I should take life day-by-day. Live simply.
But overtime I found that the “driftless” simple living definition is very rudimentary. As I studied more of the great philosophers, I learned that a simple life is also an intentional life. A simple life is lived by somebody who knows their values and intentionally takes action to live said values.
What does it mean to intentionally take action? It’s looking at your reasoning for every action, or inaction you take. Why did you do what you did? Sometimes your intentions are more pronounced for some tasks than others. The larger the impact, hopefully the more intention you are putting behind your action.
Two Steps to Intentional Living
- Define Your Values – The first, and I’d argue most important step in intentional living, is to define what your values are. Learning what is important to you allows you to create a narrative for decision making. Think about things that might be personal values of yours. Here are mine: generosity, healthy body, financial responsibility, limited environmental impact.
- Take Action Intentionally – Be in the captain’s chair of your life and make decisions based on what’s important to you. By filtering your decisions through the values you determined in the first step, you can now take actions based on your beliefs. The more intentional your actions, the more your life will resemble what you aspire it to be.
Examples of Intentional Action
We have the opportunity to take intentional action in nearly every aspect of our daily life. And while I don’t recommend over-analyzing your life to the point of emotional fatigue, it’s worth examining how values important to you are lived.
Below are some examples of values that are personally important to me, and how I take actions to live those values.
Value: Healthy Body
Intentional Action: Setting an alarm clock for an early morning work out. Going for a walk after work. Turning down (most) sweets at the office. Not buying anything from the grocery store that doesn’t look the like food.
Value: Financial Responsibility
Intentional Action: Creating a monthly budget. Only purchasing items that fit within a determined budget. Not using debt. Saving an emergency fund. Controlling my material wants.
Value: Limited Environmental Impact
Intentional Action: Bike instead of drive a car. Not purchasing plastic water bottles. Reuse products, or fix a broken item instead of buying new. Turn off lights when not needed.
Intentional Actions Over Time
The effect of intentional living can compound on itself over time. As you continually make an effort to be intentional with how you live your life, you’ll slowly build your way into a life that is in sync with your beliefs.
With repeated positive actions, habits will be developed that make your effort even easier. Depending on your personal values, things like financial responsibility, or healthy eating, become easier as your intentional actions are getting results.
The outcome of intentional action is an intentional life. A life that allows you to be at peace with your own self.