Updated: Feb 27
adverb 1. deliberately; on purpose.
A quick story for you - during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was quarantining with some friends and waiting with bated breath for the lockdowns to be over. You see, my life has always been busy. I was the type of student to put 110% into my studies, and after getting my degree, I felt restless after my workday. What are you supposed to do after 5pm? There's no homework, no college clubs or organizations, and most work days left me mentally exhausted, but, at times, unfulfilled. I was faced with a problem that I never had before: I had free time. When I was quarantining, working from home, and no longer commuting, I had even more free time. Without plans, projects, friends, concerts, events, and everything else to distract me, I began doing a lot of self-reflection. And boy, was it a bit painful.
I started thinking about all the things that brought me to where I was and where my life was taking me. I reflected on where I grew up, the major regrets I had, and the events in my life that led me here. How did I end up here? As I thought about it, I realized that my perspective was all wrong. I'm not just along for the ride, here! I have a potential that is yet to be realized, and standing by to go through life by habit isn't going to get me to where I want to be. So, with all social distractions forcibly stripped from me, I decided to work on me. This was the moment that everything changed. Self-reflection brought about an astounding moment of clarity, peace, and understanding which led me to start living intentionally.
I like to think of intentional living as the opposite of habit. Habit is effortless, natural, and comfortable. It's the food we eat when stressed, or the things we do when we feel overwhelmed. We do habitual things without thinking about it or acknowledging that we even did them. Habits can sometimes feel like accidents because there is no intention behind them.
Intention brings about a change in habit. It's making decisions based on your goals, aspirations, and pursuits. It takes focus and awareness, but it's because of this focus and awareness that you can choose to do things that are more in line with your personal, professional, or health goals. Living intentionally is putting the you of tomorrow ahead of the you of today.
So what does it mean to be intentionally you? There are no doubt things in your life that have been outside your control or couldn't change, but those things aren't you. You are composed of things you can control - how you interact with others, how you view the world, how you treat yourself. You are you on purpose. Intentionally.
For me, being intentional means being aware of how I spend my time and energy. It's making decisions that benefit my health, like eating nutrient dense food, and exercising daily. It's being patient and attentive when a friend needs a listening ear, treating others with the same respect that I have for myself, and having the humility to apologize when I make a mistake. It means being consistent and keeping my goals in focus. I'm a generalist by nature, an adventure-seeker at heart, and too ambitious for my own good. I am all of those things on purpose.
My challenge to you: Reflect on what it means to be intentionally you. Why do you do the things that you do? Are you living out of habit or out of intention? What can you do today to be more authentically you?