Author Kilroy J. Oldster observed that “living a meaningful life entails immersion in the continuous flow of life through passionate thinking, observation, and directed action.”

What Kilroy was referring to was living with intention— sitting in the driver’s seat of our life and playing on the offensive instead of reacting to life’s circumstances. Easier said than done, am I right? It’s pretty easy to get lost in the comfortable flow of everyday existence.

Routine can very quickly turn into a robot-like mundaneness that we never meant to happen, replacing the goals and dreams that make us come alive. Upon self-reflection, living with purpose quickly becomes a necessity when we ponder the finite nature of our life: “A person must be selective with their time and energy because both elements of life are limited” (Oldster).

So how do we live with intention, and start to craft our lives with purposeful direction? Although I am still learning, below are three strategies to help start living with intention that I have found to be helpful.

Learn Release

How much time do we spend sitting in the rocking chair of worry? Or, how often do we hold on to comfortable routines that negatively impact our life? One critical step to re-directing our lives is to let go of needless worries, distractions or occupations that pull us towards mindlessly existing in life instead of intentionally living life. Letting go is incredibly difficult. It means uprooting what we know for what we don’t know. That is a scary trade, which is why many stay safe in routines instead of exploring new options. However, by letting go we give room for the opportunity to become more fully ourselves. Hermann Hesse noted the power of release: “some of us think that holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go”. Deciding to let go of that part time job that weighs you down, or an unhealthy relationship will ultimately leave you with the freedom to craft an intentional life.

Look Forward

Keeping our mind and energy honed in on our goals is a critical component of living with intention. Even if we are not in an ideal place or job, looking forward and having faith in what lies ahead is invaluable. Aristotle said that “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. Looking forward means solidifying an inward intention for our lives—a sense that even in small actions and choices, we are moving towards our goal. Having a goal-oriented approach to our lives is the central core of living with purpose. Only a goal that excites the core of who you are and moves you into action is big enough. Michael Jordan understood the need to look forward and keep focused: “The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals, and you can’t let yourself be beat because of a lack of effort.”

Lean In

A powerful way to let go of extraneous worry and keep focused on our goals is by leaning on Grace and grounding ourselves in prayer. Being vulnerable to God with our struggles and most authentic desires allows us to release them and entrust them to another. “Throw your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.” –Psalm 55:22. To ‘sustain’ means to support and provide peace. Often living with intention and deep purpose is trying and deeply exhausting. It requires the best of ourselves and all of our faculties. Prayer rejuvenates and replenishes our hope and revitalizes our dreams, while also keeping us grounded and authentic. Spending time in prayer each day gives us a structure in which we can set the intention of our day and week, a way to intentionally begin each day in Grace.

We only have one life… what we do to cultivate and mold it will shape our future. Living with intention is a daily choice and effort that often produces an abundance of peace, joy, and gratification. By letting go, looking towards our goals, and leaning on prayer, we can lead a life of rigorous and meaningful intention.

Imagine what your best life looks like. Now is your time to live it.