The Power Of Intentional Living & 5 Tips To Get Started

explosive blue background and the text 'What do you want?'

I found myself for the umpteenth time ‘wishing’ I could blah blah blah. What was different this time from all the other times? I decided I really needed to explore the things I was wishing for and began to set my intention in concrete. I have not done this for a couple of years, and because it has always worked in the past I decided it was time to do this process of setting intentions again.

Know what you want

Knowing what you want is the first step. Remember though to be careful what you wish for because wishing and visualizing really can make dreams come true. This happens in my life. I am not talking about winning the billion-dollar lottery or wanting to be a tall blonde – I am a 5-foot-tall redhead with white-ish hair!

What do you realistically want given your present circumstances? The things I want are very doable, and doable without hurting another human being, which is important to me.

Let’s use decluttering of material possessions as an example. While working with others I have found the urge to declutter a home is often tied to the desire to make life changes. Out with the old, in with the new.

Setting Intentions for a fresh start 

Now that you know what you want, you can take the second step of making clear and concise intentions. Sticking with the decluttering theme… decluttering is not just about getting rid of physical belongings; it’s also about creating a fresh start mentally and emotionally. Setting intentions allows us to define our purpose and gives us a clear vision of the kind of things we want to add or subtract from our lives.

When we set intentions, we are essentially causing a ripple effect by programming our minds for success. Instead of just wishing I wrote out my thoughts in a notebook I keep for just this purpose. 


The information that comes through in my writing is my intentions. Having clear intentions is the second step of Intentional living. The most amazing things happen when I follow this process, it is like the energy around me picks up on my intentions and suddenly tools to navigate to my dreams begin to appear. I call this synchronicity.

the word synchronicity is written on a sparkly deep emerald green background

There are different ways to set intentions. I will tell you about my favorite tools. They are my favorite because they work.

Vision boards 

I am a visual person so I love to make vision boards. 

Starting about 25 years ago friends and I would get together, bringing a bunch of old magazines, scissors, adhesives, and markers to the party. We would then start cutting out images of our dreams or drawing them. These became our vision boards. Today we can do this with digital apps and editing programs.

I made a vision board with my friend Pam from Canva Clubhouse the other day. Pam has tons of free and easy to follow tutorials in her club! You will have lots of fun whatever way you choose to make a vision board! So grab a couple friends and get started manifesting your dreams.

When we finished our vision boards we decided to hang these in a prominent position in our homes where we would see them often. By meeting weekly and sharing our stories we got to watch our successes play out in real time. The most amazing pictures of our changing lives started to emerge and we all supported and helped each other. Three of us began new careers in the first few months!

I still lead groups of people to this day to manifest their dreams. I do this for two reasons – it is so inspiring to witness others success and I always learn a lot. Keep in mind it takes more than looking at a vision board to make dreams come true. Change takes work and work takes time. Making changes requires leaving your comfort zone.

Check out my new free Shift Into Action course I made for all my cluttered friends!

Given the alternative of staying stuck though the risk is well worth it! Another tool I use is my version of the popular to-do list. I write out my short-term and long-term goals and check in regularly to see where I am on my journey and what shifts I may have to make. I set myself up for a win by not being overly ambitious.

For example, regarding decluttering, if you plan to declutter your home I would not suggest you get a dumpster and empty your entire home of all the material possessions in it in one day. I would suggest you pick a closet or a corner of a room, whatever your schedule allows, and call these your short-term goals, your long-term goal would be to rid your home of clutter.

someone is sitting on the floor with a cup of coffee making a vision board with pictures and markers.

Morning Reflection and Visualization

Start your day with a few moments of reflection through writing and visualizing. These are very powerful tools. I do this by writing in the notebook I mentioned in what I call stream-of-consciousness writing.

This means the writing is for your eyes only and to pay no attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Writing rules don’t matter when writing in this free-flow manner. Apologies to all the purists out there!

You don’t have to be a writer to do this because this exercise is strictly getting your raw thoughts on paper. If I wake up with negative stuff still in my head from the previous day I write about why I am holding onto negative thoughts and then let the past go. There is, after all, nothing I can do about the past!

I then remind myself of the dreams and goals I am manifesting. I write out my intention of having a good, productive, joyful day because when I write it down in the morning I am mindful of this during my day. This by no stretch of the imagination means every day is sunshine and roses for me! 

By writing down my daily intentions I reinforce my wishes. I can either have a good day or a day from hell, it is up to me and my reaction to annoying things that come up. Laughing things off rather than going into a road rage state of mind is much gentler for my mental health.

Visualize the organized and serene spaces you aim to create. Setting intentions in the morning allows you to carry a focused mindset throughout the day, making it easier to prioritize the things most important to you. 

I would not still be doing the practice of writing, intending, and visualizing for 25 years if it was not valuable to me.

Accountability partners

Decluttering and anything new can be a challenging endeavor as are all new things and having someone share the journey with you can make all the difference. An accountability partner is your private cheer leader! This friend provides support, encouragement, and may even be able to offer some help.

Whether it’s a friend, family member, or a group of friends like me, having someone by your side can help you stay on track and motivated. The book we started using as a guide is the same book I recommend today. The title is The Artist Way and it is written by Julia Cameron.

I always enlist the help of someone to be accountable to when I have important scary deadlines to meet. Scary because I have never done this before and am not sure if will be able to do it correctly. It is also possible if I don’t want to do the work to meet the deadline, like tax preparations and other paperwork I detest doing I will procrastinate, which of course will make the whole thing harder.


Time is both a challenge and a remedy when it comes to decluttering and achieving your goals. It’s essential to allocate dedicated time for the process, ensuring that you can focus without feeling rushed. Setting aside specific time slots in your daily or weekly schedule for decluttering activities makes it a priority, reinforcing your commitment to the task. 

a grey old fashioned alarm clock with 2 bells design on top a calendar

Simply writing a note to clean the bedroom means nothing without assigning the task a timeline. I add to my calendar the dates and times I have available to work on certain projects. I meet these appointments with myself as I do all appointments – on time and ready to go. 

Intention-making, like decluttering and all significant changes, isn’t a one-time task; If you have not been practicing mindfulness you need to incorporate new habits. If it is ‘your nature’ to act like Debbie Downer’ you may want to retrain your thinking. I guarantee you Happy Harry has far more fun than Debbie. 


Replacing negative habits while developing more positive new habits is crucial for sustaining the positive transformations you seek. Consistent efforts, no matter how small, lead to the lasting changes you keep wishing for. Don’t quit before the miracle! Sometimes I hold on too long until I pivot for fear I may be quitting right before the changes start to occur. 

A great way to replace not-so-great habits with habits that will better serve you is to do it slowly and with small steps.

Trying to introduce a ton of new daily habits at the same time is not recommended. Finding a new habit to replace a self-limiting habit with one new habit at a time is best. 

gorgeous orange-y sunrise in the sky up ahead, on the paved road  where good habits is written across the lanes in white paint.

Keep practicing this habit until it becomes, well, a habit. It is a habit when the action kicks in without forethought. At this point, it is the right time to introduce another new habit.

By breaking down the process into bite-sized pieces you give yourself a much better chance at actually doing these tasks. As you do each task you can feel victorious and celebrate these small wins along the way. Small wins build momentum and keep you motivated on whatever journey you have embarked upon.

With consistency and small and steady steps, you will meet your goal. Be patient. Instead of simply wishing you are taking action to bring yourself closer to your dreams.

Celebrate your wins!

By doing these steps you are encountering small wins along the way and these wins need to be celebrated. Gather your accountability partner(s) and inspire and motivate each other.

If decluttering is your goal and you have rid your kitchen of all extraneous physical clutter take a bow and then invite your friends over to gather in your beautiful decluttered space. I would beg them to not bring knick-knacks and if they still want to bring something make it edible to share.

black and white lines suggesting a firework display as a sign of celebration!

​Less is more

The mantra “less is more” applies to living intentionally just as it does when discussing decluttering. Letting go of unnecessary items and simplifying your surroundings can have a profound impact on your mental well-being just like knowing your most important desires and living intentionally. 

Do yourself a favor before you start resisting the idea of setting intentions. If you think you are different and can’t incorporate new goals, make a fresh start, and other important things in different areas of your life due to obligations, time, and financial restrictions, think again.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day and I am pretty sure a lot of us can scrape together an hour a day to work toward our long and short-term goals. A great way to do this is by doing a little less scrolling and streaming and using this time to work toward your dreams

huge flat concave stones on a flat, still, serene body of water

Mindset shift

Once you shift your mindset to can-do thoughts the sky is the limit. I am an extremely practical person and I believe in facts and science backing up these facts. If for example I am waiting for the results of a test I took and I think and intend only a good outcome it feels better while I am waiting for the results.

Does this mean every intention is going to come to fruition? When action, consistency, and persistence follow your intentions the answer is yes.

Consider that every action we take is preceded by an intention whether consciously or not. It is this very intention as we approach a situation that influences the outcome often in profound ways.

My number one long-term goal is to achieve inner peace. My reaction will be quite different when I am reminded about my intention for a joyful day when a perceived slight is done to me. Otherwise the chances are good I’ll employ the ‘I’ll show her!’ reaction.

My personal experience proves intentions are a powerful energy that goes into my situation before I do.

ocean at sunrise and a person practicing yoga reaching to the sun

Intentions and mental well-being

One of the coolest things about living with intention is it keeps you in the present moment. Too many people stay stuck in the past hanging on to all the resentments of those times. This is extremely unhealthy and serves no purpose because try as you may you will never change the past.

Have you ever driven home and when you arrived thought ‘Wow, how did I get here’? It is kind of like scrolling through social media only to realize ‘I did it again! That is 20 minutes gone forever that I will never get back!’. These things I describe are the opposite of living with intention.

Only in the rarest of circumstances do I allow myself to scroll through my town’s social media groups. This is because I intend to not waste time reading comments that more often than not leave me feeling less peaceful before I start scrolling. This is living with good intentions or in this case an effective intention.

Gratitude for Mental Clarity

Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it.
~The Dalai Lama

The next time your day falls apart as days often do, take out your notebook and start making a list of all the things you have that you are grateful for like healthy kids, a roof over your head, and food in the fridge. If you have these things in your life you are mountains above some folks. 

Maintain a gratitude journal to appreciate the positive aspects of your life. Practicing gratitude on a regular basis can shift your focus from being resentful and angry to grateful for all the things you do have. This mental shift contributes to a more intentional and fulfilling life.

The Power of Reflection and Adaptation

By implementing one simple step at a time you can begin to live with intention. I have laid out a few easy ways to start the process for your new future self. You will come to find the positive impact this practice has on your daily routine when you replace your negative thoughts with effective intentions.

Intentional living makes a huge difference everyday. Try spending a few minutes tomorrow morning making a conscious decision about how you want your day to go.

Simply intending to do the things you want plants a seed in your brain and with action, you are on your way! So find an area of your life you would like to work better for you and get on the path of making positive changes and living the life you deserve to live.

author pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

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