Reach Your Goals by Living a More Intentional Life
Imagine that you’re in a hospital bed, not sure if you’ll recover.
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Thinking about your life, hundreds of questions start running through your mind. After you get through all of the “what ifs” and estate planning, you come to an existential question.
Did I reach my full potential?
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that it’s time to put life into perspective. Despite being a morbid topic, the point is to highlight the importance of making the most of the precious time we have on Earth. That’s why we need to start answering this question now.
Each day always seems to fly by. Days become weeks. Weeks become months. Months become years. As time moves at warp speed, it’s imperative that we find ways to slow it down and savor each moment. One solution is to live every day with intention.
Don’t most people already live intentionally? They go to work, deal with family obligations, and so on. To a degree, these people might be living intentionally. For the most part, though, people live a reactive life. This has led to mounting stress and anxiety levels embedded throughout society.
During the hustle and bustle of life, most people lose sight of what they really want to accomplish. Chances are, you have bigger dreams in life than working and paying bills.
In order to find meaning in your life, take time to be intentional. When each part of life is filled with purpose, you will be exponentially happier and more productive.
Reflect on Your Past
We are all products of past events that, in culmination, give us the results we see in the present. Some people fixate on the past and never let go. Others block it out and move on. Both of these approaches are unhealthy and ill-advised. To create a better life in the present and future, you need to learn from the past.
In every experience, good or bad, there is a lesson to be learned—if you’re willing to search for it.
Think about your past business transactions, relationships, lifestyle decisions, and anything else that impacts your life. Go through one thing at a time and ask yourself these simple questions.
1. How has this event changed my life?
Each action we take in the present has an impact on future events. Sometimes it might be too early to tell how something will play out, but it forces you to try to piece things together.
2. What can I be proud of?
Regardless of the outcome, there’s something to be proud of in every endeavor, even if it’s just that you started. When you’ve already done something hard, it helps put your current circumstances into perspective. These accomplishments and breakthroughs will serve as proof of concept if you ever feel discouraged.
3. Looking back on this event, what could I have done differently?
The only way to move forward is to learn from your past. This doesn’t mean ripping yourself apart. Instead, it means that you need to take a step back and look at your actions objectively. Pretend that you are analyzing someone else and you’ll be amazed at how quickly personal bias disappears.
For better or worse, this might trigger an emotional response. If you feel guilty or frustrated with your actions or results, the best thing to do is forgive yourself. Oftentimes, we’re our own worst critics.
4. How can I apply these lessons to other areas of my life?
Notice that this last question is actionable. Pondering life and your past is a great start, but true change can only come as a result of action. Look at your current situation in life—are you still making the same mistakes?
Now is the perfect time to start correcting course. You don’t have to initiate a complete life overhaul in one day; that would be quite overwhelming. Just try to identify one or two things you can implement that would have the greatest impact and start there. The best thing about this is you will notice that positive changes in one area in life often roll over into others.
Take time each day to reflect. Start writing out these questions and analyzing your results. You might learn something new about yourself.
Plan Your Future
It may seem counterintuitive to discuss past events, then the future. What about the present?
Before addressing present concerns, you need to figure out what you want in life moving forward. Knowing the answer to this will help you design daily actions right now that move you towards your ultimate aspirations.
Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you want to change something about your current circumstances. In order to do that, you need to keep the end game in mind. By reverse-engineering outcomes, you will be able to take control of your life. It starts with visualizing a future where you’re living at full-potential.
1. Envision your ideal life.
Are you living your dream life?
Hopefully the answer is yes. If not, take some time to figure it out. People spend several hours per month perusing Netflix for new shows to watch, but hardly ever sit down to think about what an ideal life would look like.
To successfully complete this exercise, you need to eliminate all distractions. Put away all devices, find a quiet spot, and begin visualizing. Think about all the details that matter to you, from where you live to what you do to who you’re with. Each of these can be quite revealing.
Make sure you’re focused on what you want, not the desires of others. Some people may want fame and fortune, others might want free time. Whatever the case may be, it’s up to you to decide how your life plays out.
After visualizing, it’s time to recollect your thoughts. Take out a pen and a pad of paper and write down what you saw. Freeflow and see if you can also explain why you want these things. Creating an emotional response to any endeavor is most likely to initiate action.
2. Identify your goals.
Napoleon Hill once said, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.”
In the previous exercise, you were able to draw upon your dreams to visualize the perfect life for yourself. Now that you’ve had some time to consider what you want in life, it’s time to break it down into categories.
Choose one goal for each facet of life, based on how you want your future to play out. Think about the potential impact on your life. Which achievements will bring you closest to the life that you desire?
To create significant change, you will need to set a high bar for yourself. Although it will be harder to attain initially, there will be smaller goals met along the way. Your bigger goals will naturally lead you to achieve smaller goals along the way. In culmination, setting goals in these categories will help you create a life of purpose that moves you closer to your full potential.
Health: Without health, none of the other categories really matter because you won’t be able to enjoy them. Perhaps you want to have a six-pack. Maybe you just want to consistently go to the gym. The important thing is to consciously improve your health on a regular basis.
Wealth: This is where you want to consider things such as having X amount of rental properties or a certain amount of money in the bank. Wealth enables you to buy material things, but also affords you the luxury of time to spend elsewhere if designed correctly.
Love: Consider ways that you can learn to love yourself more and appreciate the people in your life that you enjoy being around.
Happiness: Think about what makes you truly happy. You might have specific hobbies you enjoy or places that make you feel at peace. Don’t forget to have fun in life—this will help you stay fresh in order to achieve in all other areas.
A final note on goals before moving on: Celebrate each step you make towards the end result. When setting lofty expectations, it’s easy to get discouraged without smaller victories. Recognize the little things you do each day that lead you closer to your anticipated outcome.
Using these categories as a guide, start planning your goals.
Take Action in the Present
There’s nothing you can do to change your past and the future hasn’t happened yet. The only time in life you have complete control over is now.
To make the most out of each day, you need to stop waiting and take action. Over time, your daily activity will compound into something far greater. Whether this is positive or negative is up to you.
Most people recognize that they need to do something. However, the reason most people never take action is that they aren’t sure what they should be doing. That’s exactly why you need to visualize your future and set goals for yourself.
Think of your goals as the final destination when driving. Between point A and point B, there are many roads you need to take to get to your final destination. Whether you take the correct turn or get lost, each day you have the opportunity to get back on track.
Perhaps the single most important part of your journey is the creation of effective systems. To do this, you need to ask yourself one simple question: “What can I do today that will lead me closer to my goal?” Then put all your effort and attention into that one thing.
In real estate, you might want to purchase a rental property. The first step would be identifying your criteria (price range, location, etc.). From there it becomes clear that you need to look at properties. This includes contacting a real estate agent and having them set up a search in the MLS. Once you do that, you can begin to analyze deals, and eventually, you will find one that makes financial sense.
Taking a day-by-day approach gives you small victories and the confidence to proceed. It also makes whatever you’re trying to achieve far more attainable. Notice that one action naturally leads to the next. Although you might not see instant results, each day is a building block for future actions. Consistent action builds until you ultimately get to your goal.
Stop living life on autopilot and start living with intention today. Your life will be filled with greater satisfaction and meaning than you could have ever imagined.
What steps are you taking now to bring you closer to your goals?
Let us know in the comments.