Have you ever realized you don’t actually like your life?
Having that realization is sobering, yet revolutionary.
You might feel hopeless and frustrated.
I know because I’ve been there before too.
However, knowing that you don’t like your current life is the first, crucial step to designing a life you love.
Awareness is key.
But how do you change that?
In this blog post, you’ll learn how to design an intentional life you love.
A few years ago, I was working towards a life that society pushed.
I believed that if I grinded through school, found an internship, and found a “prestigious job”, then a happy life would be waiting for me.
The things I did were dictated by other people’s expectations. I never thought about what I wanted and why.
I was essentially living on autopilot mode, doing things others expected of me.
Luckily, I gained awareness and realized I hated my current life. I went through a major identity crisis that made me reassess who I was.
As a result, I am living a more intentional and purposeful life that is aligned with my values and my vision.
Common Misconceptions about Designing your Dream Life
Before I get started on how to design an intentional life, I want to go over some of the biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to designing a life they love.
These are also the misconceptions that delayed me from building a life on my terms.
1. My dream is impossible and I’ll just fail if I try
But did you try it? Did you make a plan, take consistent action for at least a year, and reflect regularly on your progress?
I used to think this way too. I assumed the outcome of something before trying it.
For example, when I was younger, I wanted to be a YouTuber. A dream many people think is unrealistic.
Because I listened to the naysayers, I also thought it was impossible.
With that belief, I posted videos irregularly for a two months. I later quit because I didn’t see any results.
However, that mindset already set me up for failure.
My friend, who is a great content creator, spends 10+ hours on YouTube on top of his full-time job.
He posts 2-3 videos a week, shows up for his audience, and is always scouting new opportunities. He is consistently action taker.
Did I do the same? No.
If you never take action, then you can’t say your dream is impossible.
Luckily, I got rid of that mentality when I started my blog. Because of that mindset shift, I am seeing results my younger self would consider impossible.
We tend to overcomplicate things in our minds before even trying them out.
My advice to you is to just start. Consistently taking action, even if it’s not always right, is better than taking no action at all.
2. My dream life will come to me
I used to think this way too. Unfortunately, this thinking didn’t do anything for me.
The longer you wait for your dream life, the longer you’re letting other people make life decisions for you.
You find your dream life by consistently taking action. You need to learn what you like and don’t like, and regularly reflect on your progress.
If you don’t start now, you’ll keep on procrastinating until who knows when.
To live an intentional life, you can’t live your life passively. Take a stance and create what you want.
3. I already finished college, have kids, etc. Is it still possible to build a life I love?
Yes it is.
I finished an expensive four years of college and realized that the life I was working towards was not what I wanted.
At the time, it felt like I drained a lot of money and resources into the wrong thing, but without those events, I wouldn’t have learned those valuable life lessons.
You might not be able to abandon everything and chase your dream of being a forever nomad, but you can lead a life that is aligned to your values, principles, and vision.
Here’s a random example: I might not be able to compete in the Olympics as a figure skater, especially if I never skated in my life.
But what I can do is ask, why the Olympics?
And from that, I can deduct:
- The feeling of joy and freedom on ice
- Exhilaration of performing new moves
- Being Proud when I reach a new milestone
- People cheering me on when I perform well
With that knowledge, I can incorporate those aspects into my life.
Even if I can’t compete in the Olympics, I can enjoy skating, celebrate milestones, share videos of me skating on YouTube, and more.
(I don’t actually skate, but that’s just an example.)
Let me do a more applicable one for you guys.
Let’s say you went to college as an English major, and realized you actually love drawing comics.
However, you’re already in debt and can’t afford to go back to school.
What you can do is incorporate drawing comics in your life now. You don’t need to get a degree to enjoy doing something.
For example, you can draw during your free time. You can draw after work, before work, during your breaks, etc.
Also, you can constantly work on improving your art, find different mediums, experiment, share your work, and find your own unique style.
Eventually, once you have the skills, you can reach out for different opportunities.
Many people think these dreams aren’t achievable.
And to be truthful, some of your biggest dreams might not ever happen.
But there are ways you incorporate the aspects you like about your “impossible” dreams into your everyday life now.
There’s a way you can live life being authentically you, making choices you truly want to make.
And for me, that’s the key to an intentional life: living a life where you feel aligned to most of the choices you’re making.
You have to keep your eyes open for opportunities everywhere. If you don’t, you’ll just keep thinking that everything is impossible for you.
It’s not about the past experiences, but how you choose to view them. See your past choices as an indicator that you grew and matured as a person.
4. I’m too old to design a life I love
Definitely not, you can start anytime. I know many people in their 50s and 60s who did a complete career change and as a result, they’re living a way happier life aligned to their vision and purpose.
At the end of the day, life is what you make out of it – it is your experiences and how you perceive them.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into how you can design an intentional life you love.
1. Do a Life Audit
As I mentioned before, awareness is key when it comes to changing your life.
To gain that awareness, you need to perform a life audit.
Think about the different areas of your life.
Here is how I section up the different areas:
- Mental Health
For each area, think about what you like and don’t like.
Write your findings down on a piece of paper, your journal, or any notebook.
By performing a life audit, I was able to learn that I actually didn’t like my career. I also discovered that I was living a life other people wanted for me and not a life I actually wanted for myself.
2. Define your True Values
You might hear it all the time, but finding your values is necessary if you want to design an intentional life on your terms.
Values are the things that you hold important in life. They are the motivation behind meaningful and intentional action.
Notice that I added meaningful and intentional in front of action.
A big reason why many people feel lost is because they aren’t living a life aligned to their true values.
Instead many people are living their life on autopilot mode, taking mindless action instead of meaningful ones.
It’s crucial that you look inwards to find out what your true values are and why.
Here are some questions that’ll help you understand your values:
- What is something you’ll miss when it’s gone?
- When was the last time you truly felt fulfilled and happy?
- Who is someone you admire and why?
- What can you not live without?
3. Create Your Life Vision
Once you understand your values, it’s time to create your life vision.
It’s how you’ll commit to living your life.
It’s crucial that your life vision is something you truly believe in. It shouldn’t be something that’s influenced by society, your parents, school, etc.
The truth is: you’ll rarely find true fulfillment if you just follow what other people want.
Trust me, I did that and landed myself right into an identity crisis.
To create your life vision, visualize the life you truly want to create.
I also encourage you to use a vision board to aid in the process.
4. Pinpoint your negative beliefs
Do you have any negative beliefs? Any beliefs that will get in the way of living your dream life?
For me, I would never make any money from my blog.
I thought other bloggers had something that I didn’t.
Until I got rid of this negative belief, I didn’t make any money at all.
Our beliefs influence our behaviors and our behaviors create our results.
Because I thought I wasn’t capable, I didn’t apply serious effort and work. Naturally, I saw no results.
However, once I identified that belief, I challenged it and made a new belief that was more aligned with my goals.
And as a result, I started to make money. Once I knew I could do it, I did what I needed to do to generate income.
The sooner you can identify your negative beliefs, the sooner you’ll see results.
5. Create Goals to guide you
Now that you have your life vision, let’s create some goals to guide you there.
To preface, most people approach goals the wrong way.
Instead of seeing goals as a guide, many people treat them as the end game.
For example, let’s use weight loss.
Rather than creating systems to maintain a healthy lifestyle, many people opt to lose weight through unsustainable methods.
An example is someone starving for a week to lose 10 pounds.
However, after they achieve these goals, they almost always revert back to their old habits. The old habits that made them unhealthy in the first place.
Living an intentional life is not an one time thing. It’s a ongoing process.
Goals should be used as guides to your greater vision in life.
In addition, goals aren’t what get people results. It’s your everyday habits that brings results.
6. Create a system
This is where the magic happens.
In order to see results, you need to create a system to follow everyday.
You can’t control whether or not you achieve that big thing, as there could be many unforeseen circumstances. No one can accurately predict the future.
However, you can control the things you do everyday to get to your goals, and ultimately, your ideal life.
For example, if you want to publish a book next year, you can write for an hour everyday.
There isn’t 100% certainty that your book will get published next year (delays and conflicts you can’t control exist), but you do have control over the small actions you do everyday.
And it’s those small actions accumulated that will get you to your overarching goals.
Furthermore, taking massive action everyday may also lead you to other paths of success you haven’t thought about before.
For example, when I first started this blog, I was committed to making it a blog about fitness and finances.
However, through taking massive action everyday, seeing the responses of my readers, and more, it evolved into intentional and purposeful living. I created planning products and found immense fulfillment and joy in my work.
Last, but certainly not least, is reflecting.
Reflection is a core component of living an intentional and meaningful life.
Not reflecting on your life was what led you to doing things you don’t like: staying in a job you hate, leading an unhealthy lifestyle, staying in toxic relationship, and more.
Thus, when you don’t reflect, you’re just reliving the same experiences over and over again – like a hamster on the hamster wheel.
You can reflect by keeping a journal. I make it a habit to journal and reflect on my day every night before I go to sleep.
I recommend you revisit your life audit at least every few months.
In addition, you can also revisit your vision to make sure it’s something you still want and also when you have something new to add to it.
But most importantly, it’s important to reflect on your systems.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again but expecting different results.”
What’s working and what’s not? An easy way to keep track of this is through keeping a journal.
If you’re ready to do those first steps of reflecting on your life, I designed a free journal exercise PDF for you to use.
Putting it all together
These concepts are extremely important to designing an intentional life.
Designing an intentional life you love is an active process. You can’t sit and wait for the perfect circumstances to come around. You have to go around and find it.
However, if you do put in the work, it is 100% possible.