When I was younger, I didn’t live with intention.

I didn’t put a lot of thought into my decisions. Instead, I did things because “that’s what everyone does”. Doing what was considered “normal” led me on a path toward accumulating $75,000 of student loan debt.

When I realized my student loan payments would be $816/month, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about doing what I thought a “normal” person would do in this situation…buying an overpriced house I couldn’t afford, taking out two car loans, getting a few credit cards for emergencies.

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Thankfully, I read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and had an epiphany. I didn’t have to do what was “normal”. I didn’t need to spend my life buried in debt.

Related: My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment

Now, my husband and I have paid off over $100,000 of debt and I’m on track to be debt-free by the end of this year. We no longer do things just because “that’s what people do”.

We make decisions thoughtfully.

We live intentionally so that we can design a life we love. As Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else now so later you can live like no one else.”

Here are 25 ways to live more intentionally!

Financially

  1. Create a budget and stick to it. This helpful download walks you through setting up a budget and comes with a free printable worksheet!
  2. Monitor your credit regularly with Credit Sesame. Your credit score impacts the interest rate you’ll receive on a mortgage or other loan.
  3. Have monthly (or weekly) budget meetings with your spouse.
  4. Spend mindfully. Give yourself time to think it over before making a large purchase.
  5. Have a plan to get out of debt. The debt snowball or debt avalanche are two popular methods.
  6. Create separate savings accounts. Give each account a name (like “emergencies”, “car replacement fund” or “vacation fund”).
  7. Use the cash envelope system to make it easier to stick to your budget.
  8. Analyze your 401(k) and meet with a financial planner for advice if needed.
  9. Read personal finance books to inspire you to save, invest, and pay off debt.
  10. Listen to personal finance podcasts. I like the Dave Ramsey show and the Fire Drill podcast (about the FIRE movement – financial independence, retire early).

Health & Wellness

  1. Create weekly and monthly health goals. My goal might be to walk on the treadmill 5 days per week or to avoid junk food 6 days per week.
  2. Use a FitBit to track your steps. You might notice trends with your steps (I tend to get the lowest amount of steps on Sundays, for example). Aim for a certain goal per day. Most people go with 10,000 – I shoot for a minimum of only 8,000 since I sit at a desk all day.
  3. Check in. Monitor your progress. Are you reaching your goals? Why/why not? If not, what could you do to change that? Are your goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based)?

Work & Productivity

  1. Use an app for productivity or scheduling. 
  2. Use a physical planner if you prefer to write your plans down on paper (I do).
  3. Set weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Some people recommend setting three year goals as well. What would you like to have accomplished in the next three years?
  4. Listen to podcasts.
  5. Read personal development books.
  6. Do a digital detox for a day, week, or month. I often take two week breaks from Facebook and sometimes take longer breaks from Instagram. I’m much more productive when I do!
  7. Schedule time wasters if you don’t want to cut them out. Don’t want to ban yourself from social media for a week? Try scheduling your social media time instead. You could give yourself 15 minutes of social media time after your work is done.
  8. Use small amounts of extra time productively. When I was in grad school, I used my 60-90 minute bus commute to catch up on reading for my classes.

Life

  1. Become a minimalist. Minimalism is all about intentional living. Minimalists only hold on to only the things that are useful to them or bring them joy.
  2. De-clutter regularly. If you’re like me, it’s easier to feel relaxed and productive in an organized, uncluttered space. I find it hard to focus when I’m surrounded by clutter.
  3. Start a gratitude journal. Writing down the things you’re thankful for has been shown to increase happiness and reduce stress.
  4. Set relationship goals. This is one area where you might not set goals, but relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives. Your goal doesn’t need to be anything huge. It could be something like “go on one date night per month with my spouse.”

When you live intentionally, you thoughtfully plan and make careful decisions. You don’t just do things because “that’s what everyone does.” Living intentionally allows you to design a life you love.

Ready to get your life together? Follow the tips above to finally start reaching your goals!

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