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The Lost Art Of Intentionality

by Ashley Perez

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I increasingly live more and more of my day-to-day life on autopilot. This is the curse of the modern-day woman, we have so much on our plates that in order to handle it all we mentally checkout. Between our families at home, our bosses at work, our trainers at the gym, and our girlfriends over brunch, we are hardly allowed a word in edgewise, let alone a thought as to what we’re actually doing to ourselves.

And what is it we’re doing?

We’re becoming machines, instead of honest-to-goodness real women, with real thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We’ve let our autopilot rob us of the joy of one of life’s simplest gifts, the gift of intentionality.

Intentionality by definition is the state of being deliberate or purposeful. Essentially it means you are taking even the smallest second to stop and think about what it is you are actually doing with your days, weeks, months, and life. It almost seems silly that we have to stop and think about the things we do, but we must. In order to be women who live up to the best of our potentials, we must also be women who aren’t afraid to look inside our everyday actions.

But what do I mean by look inside? Inside what?

Think of it this way, have you ever been so distracted by everything going on in your head that you hop in your car on your way to work, only to arrive what seems like minutes later with absolutely no recollection of actually driving there? This is exactly what I’m talking about, we are living our lives at such a high speed that we keep arriving at different “places” in our lives and wondering how it was that we got here?

When was the last time you sent someone a hand written letter? Sincerely complimented a co-worker? Had a real conversation with a significant other concerning something besides the bills, the GOP nomination, and American Idol? We have stopped doing things in our life with purpose.

If there are two things I believe every human needs to feel like a real life human being, it is purpose and community. Without one or the other life somehow seems off balance. Though we may be seemingly connected at all times through our omnipresent iPhones, how much real communicating do you really do? Do you find yourself mindlessly texting friends, family, and loved ones and not even really paying attention to their responses?

We need to slow down, and put some intention back in to our lives. We need purpose and we need each other. So how to we do it? Where do we do it? When do we do it?

Easy, you do it one step at a time.

Intentionality requires a lot of patience, another lost virtue, and coming to live a truly intentional life means you need to give yourself some space to work, and a little credit for the work you are already doing.

Let’s start with what you’ve already got. Chances are you—being such a smart, engaging woman—must already have at least two or three pretty great relationships in your life, be it your boyfriend, your girlfriends, your parents or your co-workers, there are some good people in your life. Therefore, give those good people some good quality time. Be intentional. Let them know why you appreciate them, what great support they give you, and then most importantly let them know you’re there for them too. This is always the best place to start, where you are already standing.

Then, start setting some goals. What is it exactly you want to be intentional about? Living an intentional life doesn’t just have to do with our relationships, it’s everything we do with our days. What we eat, how we exercise, what we watch on TV, read in the bathroom, and listen to on our iPods. Make three categories that you are actively choosing to be intentional about, it can be anything really: the food that you put into your body, the time you spend with your friends, your attitude about how to approach each day… anything.

After you’ve complied your three categories of things you want to focus on being intentional about, give yourself three concrete ways you can achieve your goal of being more purposeful. For example, if I am choosing to be more intentional about the way I do my job, I would decide that I need to:

  1. Get to work on time everyday
  2. Read at least one non-required reading each month concerning some aspect of my job
  3. Purposefully ask my boss if there are any areas of improvement I can be working on in the next month.

You see? All it takes is a little intention to inspire some truly meaningful action.

You can do it. And what’s even better is that as you start to consciously think about what it is you’re doing with your life, you will find it that much more enjoyable, because it is finally yours.

I’ll leave you with this: if given the chance, a father will always ask of the young man interested in dating his daughter this one question, “What are your intentions concerning my daughter?” This is how we have to live our lives, asking ourselves the same type of question. Living a life with purpose and intention is the only way to live fruitfully. So take a step back and ask yourself, “What are my intentions for today?”.

What about you? What are your intentions for today?

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