Benefits: Gain an understanding of one intentional living lifestyle — Deliberate Thinking.
So That You Can: Use it as a tool to develop your personal growth goals, meet your needs, and, ultimately, live the fulfilling life you were meant to live.
Go From Inspiration to Action With the Worksheet Below!
What Does Intentional Living Even Mean?
Intentional living is a buzzword being kicked around quite a bit in the personal development world. I use the term a lot because it’s one of those high-ranking phrases for search engines. But what does “intentional living” even mean? And why is it something we would want to strive for?
According to Wikipedia:
Intentional living is any lifestyle based on an individual or group’s conscious attempts to live according to their values and beliefs.
Simple enough, but why is there so much buzz around this phrase right now? I think it’s because we’re facing a time in history like no other. A time when people can’t figure out what their purpose is. A time when people have no idea what’s really important to them. A time when people are anxious, lonely, and disconnected from a sense of community.
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How Many Varieties of Oreos Do We Really Need?
Why are people void of purpose, anxious, lonely, and disconnected? I’m sure there are thousands of reasons, but here’s a basic one. We are putting way too much stress on our brains and constantly fighting our own instincts. For example:
- We experience more outside influences than ever before. No society has ever received as many messages, from as many sources, as we do. In a single day, we are bombarded with hundreds of messages from social media, TV, radio, email, text messages, and the list goes on and on.
- We have more options than any society has ever had. Forget the endless options available on the internet, how about the options we have at the grocery store for crying out loud. How many types of Oreos do we really need people?
Our brains were not designed to process this much information or make this many decisions. We know this because neuroscience is figuring out that our willpower — our ability to make good decisions — is a depletable resource.
So it stands to reason that, after we make 35,000 decisions in a day*, we have fully depleted our decision making resources, and then some. Of course we’re going to have a hard time figuring out our purpose. And it’s no wonder that we’re anxious; our brains are completely worn out. Our anxiety leads to feelings of loneliness, and loneliness causes us to lose touch with our community. It’s a natural progression.
It’s also a natural progression that we are recognizing this epidemic and are becoming fed up with it. Our society is saying, “There has to be a better way,” and in comes the buzz around intentional living — a “. . . conscious attempt to live according to [our] values and beliefs.”
*(35,000 is the magic number being tossed around the internet. It seems like an outrageous number, but think about it. You make 5-10 decisions while you’re getting dressed, and that’s before you even leave your bedroom. Say you have 100 emails in your inbox; that’s 100 decisions right there before you even open any emails and have to make more decisions.)
My Intentional Living Lifestyle = Deliberate Thinking
If you’re new to The Expectation Gaps, you may not know that our mission is to build a community of Deliberate Thinkers. I could say that I settled on this mission statement because I was sick of living a mediocre life, I was sick of settling, and I was sick of watching others do the same. And that’s all true.
But the real genesis of this statement is much messier than that. This statement is the byproduct of 40 years of doing what I thought I should, bending to other people’s wants and needs, and not paying attention to my own wants and needs.
It is the byproduct of having that behavior blowing up in my face, leaving me emotionally and physically drained, enough times that I finally decided I’m not going to live that way anymore.
It is the byproduct of being brought to my knees a few times and realizing that all the bullshit I was trying to acquire or achieve meant absolutely nothing to me.
I’ll put links to a couple of posts that shed light on my story at the end of this one, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the power of intentional living, and in my case . . .
The Power of Deliberate Thinking
How do I know there’s power in Deliberate Thinking? Because I’m living it, and I have never been more fulfilled! I have never been less anxious. I have never felt more connected to others. I have never felt more of a sense of belonging. And I’ve only been living this lifestyle, full time, for about eight months.
To encapsulate the philosophy of this lifestyle, I created The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking.
But I realized a few days ago, that I haven’t done a very good job of explaining The Cycle yet. I’ve hit on every aspect of it in one way or another, but I haven’t presented it all together, in one post. So here goes ?.
Meet My Buddy Abraham Maslow
One power of Deliberate Thinking is that it can help you become self-actualized.
Self-actualization is a concept introduced by Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist and philosopher who just happens to be the 10th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. You may be familiar with his most notable contribution to the field of psychology, his theory dubbed “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”
What I love about Maslow is he focused on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating people like a “bag of symptoms,” the way many of his contemporaries did. That’s why I call him my buddy ?.
Here’s a visual aid to introduce Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you’d like a more detailed description, I have a link to a great article by Simply Psychology at the end of this post. And if you’d like to hear about it from Maslow himself, there’s a link for that too!
I imagine that most people reading this post have fulfilled their Physiological and Safety needs (Needs 4 and 5). But, I also imagine that most people are struggling to meet their Love/Belonging and Esteem needs, meaning they cannot become self-actualized. I actually think there’s a pretty big Gap, The Expectation Gap, between Need 2 and Need 3.
Why? Because that’s where our expectations live, along with our limiting beliefs and egos. In The Expectation Gaps’ philosophy I say, “Our Expectations create the lens through which we see the world. This lens shapes our thoughts, feelings, and ultimately our actions.”
In our quest for Love and Belonging, we often allow our lenses to be shaped by other people’s expectations, opinions, and beliefs. We stop living with intention. We fail to face and examine the expectations that we are willing to live by. We forget what is important to us (our core values) and who we really are.
That’s why we find it so difficult to gain the self-esteem and self-respect necessary to meet our Esteem needs so that we can move to the pinnacle of our Needs — self-actualization. And that’s where The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking comes in!
Here Comes the Practical Part
Now the fun part; let’s break The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking down so you can use it to escape The Gap. As depicted in the graphic above, there is no beginning or end to The Cycle. No one component is more important than another. The goal is to fully embrace each component, but there’s no straight path.
Component #1 - Stay Curious!
Even though I just said all of the components are equally important, embracing a curious mindset might be a bit more important than the others. Without a curious mindset, you wouldn’t care about becoming self-actualized to begin with.
Staying Curious means that you want to understand yourself, others, and the world around you. It means you are humble enough to realize that you will never know everything about anything and that education is a life-long event. It means that you ask, “Why?” a lot ? and do your best to avoid taking things at face value.
Staying Curious will help you build stronger relationships because you will have a better understanding of yourself and others. With this understanding, you will be better at giving and receiving affection, and you will be able to define what acceptance and belonging mean to you.
As a result, your self-esteem, self-respect, and reputation will become stronger, which will give you the power to push through The Gap.
In order to Stay Curious, it’s helpful to know how to be intentional with media:
Component #2 - Personify Core Values
I believe that identifying your core values is the foundation of all personal development. After all, they are, by definition, the core of who you are.
Personifying your core values means that you have not only identified your values, you are living them. When you’re faced with a tough decision, you turn to them. When your ego starts to fill your head with self-doubt, you turn to them. When other people try to force their agendas on you, you turn to them.
As a result, not only will you know who you are and what you stand for, other people will know too. Your words, behaviors, and actions will be consistent, which will help you build strong relationships and increase your sense of love and belonging.
Your consistent behavior will lead to increased self-awareness and respect, giving you the power to push through The Gap.
Start to identify your core values here:
Component #3 - Examine Expectations
Our brains create an expected result for every single action that we take. Our expectations help us navigate the world and keep us safe. However, some expectations, also called limiting beliefs, can stand between us and our needs.
Expectations are great at helping us meet our Physiological and Safety needs but not so great at helping us meet the rest of our needs. Our Love/Belonging need involves other people, which means it involves people’s expectations of us and our expectations of others. And how often do these types of expectations match up to reality? Not very often.
This disconnect between our expectations and our reality create The Gap. Within The Gap are all of our limiting beliefs, self-doubts, and insecurities. These are some pretty fierce foes so we tend to avoid facing them, let alone examining them. And, we end up stuck, where? That’s right — in The Expectation Gap.
That’s why I believe that the only way to gain the power to push through The Gap is to live with intention by examining our expectations. Then we can decide which expectations we are willing and unwilling to live by.
Every piece of content that I provide is meant to help you examine your expectations, but one in particular that might be helpful to start with is:
Component #4 - Execute With Intention
To Execute With Intention means that you don’t just sit and think about what you want out of life, you take action. You take all that knowledge you’ve gained from Staying Curious, the core values you’ve identified, and the expectations you are willing to live by, and you make informed decisions about your life. Then you take action to create the fulfilling life you were meant to live.
The more you practice Executing With Intention, the more confident you will become in your decision making abilities. You will start to have more faith in yourself. You will start to take more chances. And you will have less fear of failure.
And what happens when you combine all of these personal developments? Your self-esteem increases, giving you the power to push through The Gap.
This post will help walk you through an effective way to become more decisive:
Component #5 - Respect Other Points of View
In order to meet your Love/Belonging Need, it stands to reason that you have to build strong relationships. And in order to build strong relationships, you have to respect other points of view.
The more you examine your own limiting beliefs and realize how messed up you are, the easier it will be to Respect Other Points of View. And, as you gain more knowledge through staying curious, you will come to accept the fact that your point of view is not always right. You’ll also come to accept the fact that there isn’t always a right and wrong answer to everything. And, no, you definitely don’t know what you would do in someone else’s shoes.
When you respect other people’s point of view, they will respect yours (most of the time). With increased respect comes increased esteem and even more power to push through The Gap.
I’ve written several posts aimed at inspiring us to respect other points of view, but this one might be a good place to start:
What Happens Next?
As suggested by The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking graphic, I believe that embracing The Cycle will allow you to live the fulfilling life you were meant to live. You will be able to realize your full potential (become self-actualized) because you will know and show your authentic self. Being authentic will help you meet your needs of connection and belonging, and those needs are going to push you up to the pinnacle of that pyramid — self-actualization.
I’ve given you links to several posts that will encourage you to seize the power of intentional living, all of which include FREE worksheets to help you go from inspiration to action. Now it’s up to you!
Plus, I put together a FREE Worksheet for this post.
Click here for more posts with an “intentional living” theme.
If you’re ready to Stop Settling & Start Living! check out our home page to learn more about what The Expectation Gaps has to offer.
For a couple posts that shed light on my story, read:
And until next time . . . STAY CURIOUS!
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