Today’s post is all about getting the most out of life. As the world becomes more crowded, more digital, and frankly madder, many people are looking to simplify. To create a life that is calmer, more grounded, and more satisfying. This has lead to the rise of minimalism but in the past 4 years or so, there has been a shift from minimalism to other -isms and intentionalism seems to be the cream rising to the top of the butter churn.
In case you’ve been living in a cave (like a true minimalist), let’s define minimalism, not the art/sculpture movement of the 1950s or the avant-garde music style but the lifestyle movement. As defined by the Minimalists, minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. Hey! That sounds a lot like living with intention to me!
Whatever you call it, I think that the two words are synonyms for living with the awareness of how you impact the world around you, living with what makes you happy, and reducing the stress in your life.
- Want to live in a 100 sq ft flat with just a fork, cake plate, and bean bag chair? Do it!
- Want a 10 piece wardrobe? Go for it!
- Want to have 2 kids, a dog, and a house in the suburbs that is well-maintained and brings you joy each day? Have at it!
I don’t think there are any hard fast rules but I do think there are guidelines to having more with less. Keep in mind, I am absolutely NO expert on any of this. I haven’t published a book, studied a control group of minimalists against maximalists, or done any research at all. My opinion is based on personal experience and my internal barometer of what feels right. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way here are (what I believe) the key tenets of intentional living.
1. Streamline your life (decide what you need to be happy)
2. Purchase only things you really love (and return them if you don’t)
3. Donate what you don’t use regularly (so that others may benefit)
4. Take digital diets (ditch social media, even if just for a weekend)
5. Care for what you own (maintain, clean, repair)
6. Stop attempting to multi-task (it has been scientifically proven to be impossible)
7. Be content and grateful for what you have (gratitude looks good on everyone!)
8. Explore the world around you (it is very humbling)
Those are the basics as far as I am concerned. Now, buried in each one are additional actions you need to take so here is a list that can you get started.
1.Engage in some serious introspection. To me, that is the key to everything in life; looking at yourself and the way you live closely. It may not be comfortable but life gets so much better when you understand yourself and can identify what is working and what is not. If you have to, write down a list of what you want to change. It may be the clutter in your home, it may be the emotional timesuckers in your life, it may be a job that you dread each Monday morning. Once you’ve decided what you need to change, you need to…..
2. Make a plan. Even if you like to play fast and loose with you life, a plan is always a good idea. You don’t have to have it mapped out to the atomic clock, but knowing what you want to change propels you forward and helps you make a plan to get there. Using SMART goals is a great way to create a plan. I’d write about SMART goals but that would take a few lengthy posts and there is an Internet full of information on how to write them.
3. Take action. When you have your plan you need to execute it. This is easier said than done for some and, if you struggle with procrastination, you can break the plan into small steps. Breaking it up makes it easier to handle, especially when you are emotionally invested in the challenge. For example, you may want to declutter your home. Don’t attempt to do it all in a weekend. Start with 1-hour blocks of time and focus on a single challenge be it organizing your personal paperwork, cleaning out a closet, or packing up all the unused kitchen gadgets. If you are dreading any of this be sure to celebrate each time you check off a piece of your plan. Just don’t celebrate by buying something you don’t really need/love.
4. Assess your goals regularly. Make time to check in on your progress and adjust your goals accordingly. Depending on your personality it may be monthly or quarterly but to stay on track, you’ll need to stay on top of your plan. Feel free to seek out books, blogs, or anything that can help you. Just don’t use these tools as an excuse to avoid doing the real work.
5. Focus on one thing at a time. Want to watch a movie? Then watch the movie without surfing the internet. Want to call a friend? Engage in the conversation without flipping through a magazine. The human brain cannot multitask, as proven by science.
5. Get out there. Seeing the world, even if it’s just across town, helps broaden your perspective and helps you develop a sense of gratitude. Traveling, reading, and volunteering in your community are all great ways to learn about the world around you. You CANNOT be surprised I added something related to travel in this post, can you? 😎🗺
Intentional living may take some doing but if you want to live better with less, get more enjoyment from the things you have, and reduce the stress in your life it may be worth exploring. What do you think? Is living intentionally a realistic lifestyle? Let me know what you think in the comments!
4 thoughts on “A Minimal Life or An Intentional Life?”
Great post! I’ve only started living intentionally last year October and it has been liberating I would say. I think living with intention and responsibly is one of the principles in the larger concept of minimalism. In this ever face-paced world where we worship instant gratification, we did not give ourselves much time to actually “think” – what are we doing, why are we doing this and that. Surely living intentionally does slow down everything and gave us a calmer and simpler life. I’ve written about my journey too at my blog, check it out if you like:
And I started this minimalist life after a tedtalk:
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Rachel, thanks for your comment! Intentional living looks different for everyone and I am glad to get your perspective. I enjoyed reading your blog, especially your post titled: ‘Minimalism is more than owning less stuff’. It is easy to get caught up in comparing our lives to those we see on the Internet and this can be the death knell of an intentional life. It’s impressive that you understand this at your young age. Keep it up and continue to inspire others!
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