What is the nature of your existence? What is the impact of your presence in the world?
We are an inherent part of whatever situation we find ourselves in and are responsible for how interesting (or uninteresting) it is. We can make life exciting, inspiring, and fun—we just have to remember to exist, in a meaningful way, wherever we are.
When thinking about our lives, it can be helpful to think about what “intentional” means. For me, leading an intentional life is about choice—making our own decisions about what we do, think, and feel. It means charting a path for ourselves and navigating that path effectively.
Many people go through their lives engaging in only those experiences that pop up. Something comes across their path—a job, an experience, a friend—and those things become their life. They aren’t proactive in creating their lives—their lives just happen. Others only live the life that is expected of them. Expected by their parents, their teachers, or their circumstances. They do what is expected of them, not what would give them a sense of happiness or meaning according to their values and passions.
It is important to make some time for reflection in our lives.
If we can make the time to think deeply about what we do, how we interact with others, and what direction our lives are heading, we can make each of these aspects of our lives more meaningful and give ourselves the peace of mind that comes from living intentionally.
It is important to understand not just what is happening in our lives but why it is happening and what the consequences will be. Sometimes it may feel like we’re going through life like a pinball—being bounced around with little control over our direction. Why does it feel this way? Are we not taking charge of our direction? Are we trying to take charge but can’t for some reason? Are our lives really out of control, or does it just seem that way? If we reflect on our direction in life and gain a better understanding of the forces that influence that direction, we will be much more likely to move in the direction that we want and will feel more confident in our path.
The notion of balance is an old one but is as important now as it has ever been. Modern life tends to move at a frenetic pace. Our professional and personal lives are equally demanding, and we are getting information, both helpful and unhelpful, at the speed of light.
We each start our day with a bottle full of mental and emotional energy—our energy juice—and it can go fast.
We use up a significant amount during our workday. For many, that’s where most of the bottle is poured. Then when we come home, we pour a bit more out—maybe while coaching our kids or engaging in their school functions. We pour a bit more out while interacting with our spouse and working through marital issues. Then we see if there’s any more left in the bottle to address day-to-day problems and issues, such as bills, doctor appointments, household maintenance, and the never-ending stream of minutiae we all have to deal with. After all this, we turn to those things that we do for ourselves. But when we pick up the bottle, there’s nothing left.
It’s never pleasant to be criticized—even if the person criticizing you has the best of intentions. But being open to criticism, even if you disagree with it, can potentially improve your path in life.
The path of self-improvement should be continuous. Part of this journey is a healthy and honest self-assessment, but we should also be open to the opinions of others. This doesn’t mean that you have to accept, agree with, or incorporate others’ criticism, but it never hurts to consider it. Sometimes someone else’s opinion is not meant with the best of intentions, and although we should be aware of their motives, that doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is wrong. Consider the motives of those criticizing you, but even if they’re hurtful or harmful, don’t let that get in the way if their criticisms are valid.