What is the greatest key to success? Ask a group of people and you’ll hear many different answers. Discipline, hard work, intelligence, persistence, confidence, race, ethnicity, privilege, and luck usually top the list.
I hear this question time and again and I often ask myself the same thing. Did one characteristic lead to my success or was it a combination of them? It was certainly a combination. I cannot discount the boosts that bumped me up the ladder, but there was also something else.
Something that rarely gets mentioned; a focus on intentional living. It was that focus and this little blog that helped make me a multi-millionaire.
What does intentional living mean? It means recognizing the power of your choices. When you live intentionally you make decisions about your life with your eyes and heart open to the world.
When you live intentionally you live with intention. You choose to live the life you want. You recognize that your decisions impact your life in a meaningful way.
What is the Greatest Key to Wealth?
What is the greatest key to wealth? If you sent out a survey most people would say things like, pay off your debts or never miss a credit card payment.
Those steps lead to wealth, but they don’t make you wealthy in the first place. The thing that makes you wealthy is thinking about your future wealth.
Think about this in terms of eating dinner. You have to think about dinner before dinner arrives. Do you have chicken thawed in the fridge, do you have a new recipe you plan to make, or is this the night you want to go out for Chinese food?
There is nothing wrong with any of these options, but if you live intentionally you have to think about them in advance.
It works the same way for wealth. If you want to accumulate wealth you have to create a plan for it. You can’t just expect money to be waiting in your bank account. Just like you can’t expect dinner to be sitting on your kitchen table.
Intentional Living to Achieve Better Health
Intentional living directs our life decisions. Let’s say you want to lose ten pounds. Well, you can think about losing that weight, but nothing will happen. It won’t magically melt off your body.
So how do you lose weight? You begin to prep your meals. You remove junk food from your kitchen cabinets and replace it with healthy snacks.
Then you put your workout clothes on your dresser and your sneakers beside the front door. When you plan it’s harder to convince yourself not to workout.
Intentional living is planning and preparing to lose weight. The preparation is what’s necessary. It’s scheduling a time to exercise or calling a friend so you can chat every morning on your daily walk.
Intentional Living is Planning for Your Future
Intentional living is making a plan rather than just hoping for the best. It’s consciously thinking about your decisions when you want to veer off course.
If you want to lose weight set a goal for the number of minutes to exercise or the number of calories you want to eat. If you want to save money set a goal to pack your lunch, ask for a raise, or put in extra hours to achieve that yearly bonus.
Every night when you go to bed ask yourself, “What did I accomplish today?” Did I meet the goals I aimed for and if I didn’t how do I get back on track and try again tomorrow?
Intentional Living to Achieve Wealth
To be intentional with your money you must review your finances and evaluate your expenses. You must think about money each day.
If you want to be wealthy you can’t spend money however you please. You can’t walk out the door in the morning and not think about your daily financial transactions.
I’m probably making intentional living sound boring and painful. “I can’t just pull my wallet out to buy a soda or a bag of chips,” you ask. “I can’t just buy myself a new toy without weighing the impact on my overall expenses?”
Yes. That’s right. In the beginning, intentional living requires you to spend a lot of time thinking.
Eventually, you will train your brain to act with purpose and intention even though you aren’t taking time to think about it. Over time your purchases will map to your intentions, but in the beginning, you have to stop and pause.
You have to think about it often. Keep it fresh in the front of your mind. Talk to your money mentor and ask them to keep you accountable.
Focusing on Our Intentions
So how do we focus on our intentions? How do we keep ourselves aligned with our goals? To begin you must pause before you act.
If you are intentional with your money you will stop in the middle of the store and pause. Ask yourself, “Do I need this thing I’m about to buy? How long will I want to take care of it? How long will I use it? Is it good for me?”
Yes, I understand your baby might be fussy, your husband may be waiting for you for dinner, and you are going to be late for a meeting. I’m not asking for thirty minutes or two hours of time. I’m asking you to pause for a few short seconds so you can really think through the actions you are about to commit.
Before pulling out your credit card you need to pause and ask yourself why you are spending money.
Vow to Do Better Tomorrow
Are you in the drive-through lane because you didn’t plan for dinner? Are you at the store because you didn’t create a grocery list earlier in the week?
Allow yourself to reflect on the reason you are purchasing something new. Then vow to do a little bit better tomorrow.
What can you do to prevent a trip to the drive-through? Can you create a meal plan for the week? Can you cook extra servings and eat leftovers?
Ask yourself how you feel as you stand in line or wait in your car? Are you stressed, rushed, tired, or bored? How can you prevent those negative emotions?
If you document these purchases you will see that money is not buying you happiness. You will be happier planning your life in an intentional and thoughtful way.
Intentional Living Isn’t Easy
Intentional living isn’t easy. It’s easier to walk through life without a plan. It’s easy to flash your credit card at the drive-though or in the checkout line. That’s a whole lot easier than planning a weekly menu or making sure you go to the gym each morning.
You can step through the motions of life or you can choose how to attain the things that matter to you.
What do you want out of your life? If you aren’t sure close your eyes and think about it. Think about breathing your last breath? What do you want to accomplish before that happens?
Don’t look at your neighbors, siblings, or peers for advice. Your goals will not be the same. My goal may be to help others or teach my children. Your goal may be traveling the globe or creating your own business.
We only get one chance at life. You can wander through your days or accomplish great things. But you can’t start until you define your values and goals.
When you live with intention you focus on the things that matter and ignore the background noise. You act with purpose and make choices that lead you to your goals.
Your Goals Are Not Set In Stone
When I was younger I wanted to earn a lot of money. I measured my wealth in dollars and cents. The higher my bank balances grew the more successful I felt.
But over the years my wealth can no longer be measured this way. If I had nothing but money to comfort me I would be a miserable soul.
Did intentional living lead to my wealth? Without a shadow of a doubt.
You don’t need to plan for the rest of your life. You don’t need to know your profession, how many children you want, or where you want to retire.
Instead, ask yourself what you want out of life. What would make you happy? What are you passionate about?
Write your thoughts down and review them often. Before you go to sleep ask yourself if you felt happy or passionate that day. If you didn’t ask yourself why.
When we live with intention we can focus on our goals. We can figure out how to achieve more for ourselves and for those we love.
Picture Your Future Life
After writing down your goals stop to picture your future life. Think about yourself five, ten, fifteen, or more years from now. Imagine how happy and passionate you want to feel.
As you go through your days try to reimagine this image of yourself. As you make choices and decisions think about who you want to be.
Don’t allow the distractions of everyday life to interfere with this goal. Plan ahead, live intentionally and find a way to become the person you want to become.
Who Am I
When I started living intentionally I was twenty-six years old. I was physically broken, bitter and angry. I am now a very happy, forty-plus year old, multi-millionaire.
I’m not saying you can achieve wealth, health or happiness. As I said it’s not easy, but if you want to reach any of those goals living intentionally will help you get there.