“The quality of your commitments will determine the course of your life.” – Ralph Marston
Recently, I spoke to a room full of high school students on the topic of “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Among the advice that I gave them, I offered this nugget of truth: “Don’t just drift through life. Live with intention and purpose.” I believe that is one of the most important lessons that a person can learn—and the sooner we get it, the better.
Living a simple life certainly requires intentional living.
In a world that is hectic, busy, and hurried, simplicity is not. In a culture that encourages selfishness and excess, minimalist living does not. And in a society that is rushing to gain more, satisfaction with less is counter-cultural.
To begin living with intention, we must begin by laying a proper foundation and then add practical steps on top of it.
First, Lay the Foundation.
- Realize that your life is made up of choices. Every morning is a new day full of decisions and opportunities. You get to pick your attitude and your decisions. You don’t have to let the circumstances of your past negatively determine the pattern of your life in the future. You have a choice in the matter. You do not need to be stuck in the same pattern of living that you have been for years… realize that every morning is a new opportunity.
- Evaluate the culture that you’re swimming in. Life is not lived in a vacuum. It is lived surrounded by a culture that is moving somewhere. This culture around us forms a swift downstream current. Living with intention will require you to take a step back and evaluate the flow of the stream to determine where it is headed, how it is affecting you, and if it is taking you in a direction you desire.
- Examine yourself. Know who you are. Get a strong handle on your passions, talents, abilities, and weaknesses. Give precious time and energy to this endeavor. It is one of the most valuable things you can do.
Second, Add Practical Steps.
- Decide to live your life. Stop comparing yourself to others. You were not born to live their life. There is no sense in wasting yours being jealous of theirs. Instead, you were born to live your life – determine today to be good at it. After all, you only get one shot.
- Define a purpose. Identify what you want your life to communicate and contribute. Find a passion to live for that is bigger than yourself. Write it down. It will bring new meaning to your life. It will wake you from the slow death of only living for yourself.
- Set goals. Goals move us and goals shape us. Set goals that are directly in line with your defined purpose. By their very nature, they will introduce intentionality into your life.
- Stay focused. We live in a world of constant connectivity and distraction that is begging for our attention nearly every moment of the day. Learn to turn off the distraction and live your life instead. Turn off the tv and don’t read gossip magazines. Remove nonessential physical belongings that are robbing you of time and energy that could be better spent living with intention.
- Learn from others. Successful people are curious people. They possess the humility to learn from others. Identify people accomplishing your purpose and goals. Then, study them and learn from them.
The worst thing you could ever waste is your life. Instead, commit yourself to intentional living and living with purpose.
Thank you for this. It is so easy to bog oneself down with our circumstances that we forget such small things as being in control of our attitude. It takes nothing to smile and be grateful, and oh what a change that can make in our day. Literally choosing the small things, creates more joy-and when we have more joy, our attitude improves and it’s a snowball effect. Before you know it, we are making other changes, like the ones you mention and a lot of those times, others are positively affected by us as a result. It’s a win-win! If people would just commit to starting their day with a smile and purposeful attitude, regardless of their situation, they would begin to see changes. Everyone can at least do that much. Thank you!
I’m 71 years old, recently divorced and trying to find my place in the world. Every day offers new opportunities for growth. I don’t have cable or network TV, I never listen to the news (tho I do get it in my inbox each day). First thing in the AM, I put on some music and let the day carry me where it will. I’ve embraced the minimalist lifestyle after my other moved out and took his plethora of stuff with him. A great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I gave away about 75% of my clothing, kitchen stuff and other things that were just taking up space. Such a wonder feeling!
Luis Zelaya says
Good for you! I’m glad you are now living life as it should’ve always been.
I don’t know if it was your intention, but you comment seems unnecessarily condescending. Angela’s story is inspiring that she is still able to turn her life around at 75 and also eliminates excuses for those who have not learned to live with intention early in life. Her story also challenges us to look within ourselves. I am 37, I don’t have to wait any longer to make my life mean something. The same goes for you. Perhaps the thought you shared was meant more for you instead of her.
Carol Blackburn says
God bless you on your new journey. You sound like a very capable woman who will enjoy the remainder of her life immensely.