Now that you know how to get unstuck, it’s time to focus on living with intention. But what does this mean? If you’ve figured out what you value and have made actionable steps to start living by those values, you’re ready to start living with intention (well, you’ve already started). There are three things to know that will help you keep the course. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it!

Exercise Willpower

Living with intention usually means going against the flow of society. The world wants us to spend our money frivolously. These purchases make us feel good in the moment, but usually don’t help us live by our values. This is where willpower comes in.

I used to go to Target for diapers, formula, and toilet paper. Every trip I would also stop by the $1 section, walk the home decor aisles, and browse clothing all while sipping my Starbucks. This usually resulted in my shopping bill being $100-$200 dollars over my original intentions.

I would come home excited, but a few days later I would look at my credit card bill and be baffled by the total. How did I spend that much? I honestly couldn’t recall all my purchases. That shows how important and useful they were, right?

When I realized that shopping at Target wasn’t good for our budget I stopped going. I bought toothpaste, toilet paper, and cleaning products from the grocery store. This helped significantly. There did come a day when I finally stepped back into Target. It was difficult to walk past all those bright colors without grabbing something. I had to remind myself I didn’t need that item and place it back on the shelf.

When I returned home without those extra purchases, I was really proud of myself. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. With continued practice, my shopping cravings lessened - mostly because I was seeing results. My credit card bill no longer depleted my bank account. I even had money left over to save for vacations. This continues to give me the willpower to continue. I haven’t been perfect, but I’m still making progress on our freedom dreams.

Don’t Be Afraid To Spend On Your Values

Things will pop up in life that you don’t expect. Decisions will need to be made. But how do you make the best decision in relation to living an intentional life? Consider your values and available resources.

When my plans for a weekend trip to Arizona got canceled, a decision had to be made. My ticket was non-refundable. I could forgo the trip and take a $500 loss, or we could spend more money to get Chris a plane ticket and turn it into a short getaway. Had this happened a few years ago, Chris would have said to take the loss. He wouldn’t have been able to come to terms with spending money on something unnecessary.

But now that we know our values, Chris recognized the quality time that this trip would provide. We also had the funds to make this happen. We had decided a few months prior that we would set aside a nice amount of money each paycheck for vacations. Choosing to spend more money, especially on short notice, was the right decision for us. It fell within our value system, making it an easy yes.

(Follow up on that story: After dropping our girls off at my parents for the long weekend, our departure flight ended up being canceled due to the weather. We decided to take the refund instead of rescheduling due to our limited time in Arizona and spent a kid free weekend relaxing, watching movies, eating out, and taking a trip to IKEA. It ended up being a fantastic weekend.)

Learn and Move Forward

When you take action in changing your life (maybe it’s unplugging the TV, choosing to eat out once a week, or taking a vacation), keep moving forward. Keep progressing, learning, evolving, and doing.

After our first family road trip we were eager to continue. The following year we had a successful trip to Florida - maybe even better than our first! Then we planned our third road trip.

We were full of confidence, pushing ourselves to the next level, excited to explore out West. We covered over 4,000 miles in twelve days, spending over 60 hours in the minivan. We had several four hour stints of driving that resulted in screaming fits. We had a child with her first loose tooth who refused to eat anything but milkshakes. And over half of our hotel stops made me cringe. By the time we reached our last motel of the trip I made Chris make a U-turn in the parking lot and keep driving until we found a Holiday Inn Express. The closest one was three hours away! The next morning the girls and I were like stubborn donkeys that refused to move - we did not want to get back in that minivan!

That experience could have been the end of our road trips, but we valued the quality time and experiences this trip had provided. We hiked at Glacier National Park, Mt. Rainer, Yellowstone National Park, and Mt. Rushmore! We never would have had those experiences if it weren’t for that road trip, so no regrets. But we did learn lessons.

We crammed in too many miles for a twelve day trip. Our next trip needed to be slower - fewer miles driven each day and time to relax at our hotels. When we planned our next summer road trip out East we kept this at the forefront of our minds. It turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. We loved hiking in New Hampshire, walking around Central Park, and swimming in the ocean in Delaware.

We didn’t give up on something we valued because it became stressful or challenging. The answer wasn’t to stop doing what we loved, but to make some adjustments so that we could live according to our values even better. Because of this, we were able to move forward in our journey with more knowledge and better results.

Are you living with intention? What has helped you in your journey?