“We all have two choices: we can make a living or we can design a life.”
Are you living intentionally or is your life on autopilot?
You are living intentionally when you focus on what is most important to you. It means that you are living consciously and your life is aligned with your core values.
In short, living intentionally gives you a sense of personal fulfillment.
A coin, however, always has two sides. If you aren’t living intentionally, you are living on autopilot.
To learn whether you’re living life by default or by design, let’s examine what it means to live on autopilot.
Do you ever get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, unsure of what you truly desire? If that’s the case, you’re most likely living by default.
A poll of 3,000 people was conducted recently to establish how much control people have over their life. In a surprising revelation, 96% admitted that they were living on autopilot.
The research also discovered that the average person will make 15 decisions on autopilot per day. That is 250 000 autopilot decisions in a lifetime!
Autopilot decisions include everything from what to wear in the morning to what to eat for lunch. And even what to do on weekends.
When you live life on autopilot, you are simply passively taking things as they present themselves.
To find out if your life is on autopilot, look out for these 5 signs:
Most days, you wake up wondering how you got ‘here.’ You are wasting your life away by doing things mindlessly. More often than not, you act without thinking about what, why, and how.
This is no different from sleepwalking through life. People who let their minds wander, often think about events from the past, present, or future. And this often leads to a lot of unhappy feelings.
You feel that you are not in control of your life. Things are always happening to you and you have no control over them. At times, you may even feel that your life is spiraling out of control.
You’re fine one minute and then you’re not the next. And you have no idea why.
You want to accomplish so much in life but can’t seem to get started. Even though you’re overflowing with thoughts and ideas, you feel unable to make any meaningful changes in your life.
You’re just ‘fitting in’ because you’re not doing what you really want to accomplish. Because you let others’ expectations influence your life decisions, you are left unhappy.
If you feel like you’ve been living on autopilot and are tired of feeling embarrassed and self-loathing, do something. It’s time to make a change.
You can choose to live your life mindfully with purpose and intention.
Living intentionally means living a life that is in line with your basic principles. A person who lives a purposeful life decides what they want their life to look like.
You are actively involved in shaping the path of your life instead of passively going along with whatever life throws at you. So, how do you know that you are living intentionally?
Here are 6 indicators that you’re on the right track:
You know that you have complete control over all aspects of your life. And you accept full responsibility for it. The most important aspect of living intentionally is to be responsible for every area of your life.
You’re aware that you are the only one who has the power to make changes in your life. Regardless of who or what influences you.
“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
We each have a unique set of core values. My core values are embracing life with optimism, a dedication to lifelong learning and living life on my own terms.
To live intentionally, you would have already figured out what your core values are. And you’re living your life in a way that reflects those values.
When your core values are in sync with your actions, you’re moving in the direction of your dreams and desires. Your core values dictate who you are and how you make decisions in life.
If you are unsure of what your core values are, try Atomic Habit author James Clear’s list.
You are conscious of the decisions you make in your life and ensure that they align with your values. Because time is a valuable resource, you will say “no” to activities that do not add value to your life.
Living intentionally means you focus on what and who you’re willing to devote your time to. You will go to great lengths to ensure that each day is fruitful.
You use productivity tools and apps (like RescueTime) to cut down on distractions that limit your work. Moving in the direction of what you want and away from what you don’t suggests that you’re living intentionally.
One of the prerequisites for living intentionally is establishing a purpose. With a purpose, you will build your life’s objectives around it.
It is what motivates you and gives you a reason to get up every day and do what you do. Even when life seems to get tough, you are driven to do the things that are aligned with your purpose.
Purpose provides you with a sense of direction in life and helps you become aware of your choices. It is certain that it will guide you in the right direction.
The vital components to living intentionally are your core values, priorities, and purpose. And the one thing that ties all these things together is your mindset.
You can create any change you want in your life. Just alter your thoughts.
A right mindset is essential, for it guides and controls the direction of your life. It also allows you to focus on what needs your attention right now.
Your positive mindset will allow you to view failures as feedback. It is also an opportunity to learn and grow. And you know that you have complete control over your life, thoughts, and feelings.
When you are living intentionally, you embrace the only thing that matters: the present moment. Being present is an effective way to remain focused on the task at hand.
Embracing the present means that you are neither distracted by future events nor burdened by the weight of the past. Being in the “now” helps you maintain mental stability and enhances your physical health.
It is also a huge contributor to your psychological well-being.
The constant barrage of interruptions and distractions you face daily can stimulate your body’s natural stress response. This will result in elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol in your system.
Many studies have proven that mindfulness helps cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. When you remain present, it cultivates your mindfulness. This is where you become grounded, self-aware, calm and at peace.
Now that you have examined both sides of the coin, it all boils down to this…
You are either living intentionally or you are living on autopilot. If you are not living by design, then you are definitely living by default.
But all is not lost, because…
You have two options. You can choose to live intentionally. Alternatively, you can live on autopilot and let circumstances and people make decisions for you.
There will come a time in your life when…
You’ll need to pause and think about what you want to achieve and why it means so much to you. Start living intentionally by looking at the choices you make every day.
You must be certain that your decisions are leading you in the right direction. Begin by taking a step back and assessing the decisions you make on a daily basis.
One approach to doing this is to make it a habit to ask yourself why you do what you do.
“Why do I hang out at this place with my friends every Friday?”
“Why am I eating this snack between meals?”
“Why am I getting all worked up over this?”
A lot of the things you do might have become habits over time. Finding the underlying reasons behind a habit can help you figure out if it’s in line with your core values. If it is not part of your plan for intentional living, you might want to drop the habit.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of living life by default. When you spend most of your time on the daily grind, you might forget what you want out of life.
Furthermore, there are countless distractions that prevent you from attaining your goals. To break free from that takes a concerted effort. This is where intentional living reminds you that you have influence over how you react to circumstances beyond your control.
You are living intentionally when your core values are consistent with your daily actions. So, it is merely a matter of aligning your behaviors with your values.
Aligning your core values also requires you to say “no” to many things. There is a hidden cost to saying ‘yes’. When you say ‘yes’, you are committing to something.
Saying ‘yes’ creates an obligation. There are times when you must say “no” so you can say “yes” to something better.
You and I have the same number of hours each day. What distinguishes the winners from the runners-up is how they spend those hours.
Because anything that is not in alignment with your core values is a distraction. Take away distractions from your life so you can live intentionally.
One major source of distraction today is notifications from electronic gadgets. This is one thing that can make you lose focus.
You can put a limit to the distractive nature of all your electronic gadgets. Check your notifications at the proper intervals throughout the day using your schedule.
Do not worry about missing out, because when you live by your core values, you already have all you need. Core values are the pillars upon which you can build a life that you can be proud of.
Making meaningful choices every day to meet your life’s goals is what intentional living entails. When you live intentionally, you are making a conscious effort to lead a good and decent life.
Focus on the things that are most important to you. Be aware of your priorities and put yourself first. Living intentionally, you will be able to strike a balance between what you can control and what you can’t.
Your money, time, and attention are your resources. If you do not have a plan for how you will spend your days, you are living a default existence.
Begin living with intention today by putting your plans into action. One good way to get started is to create a plan based on your core values.
It will be something that helps direct your activities now and in the future. Hence, you must generate this plan according to what matters most to you.
Here are two tried-and-true methods for getting started on your path to living a life of purpose.
Have it written down, together with a description of the future you want. This will be a blueprint of what is most important to you.