Last week I poured out anxieties about putting myself out there here on the blog. It turned out to be very therapeutic for me to do so because since then, I’ve experienced a lot of relief, I’ve felt much more motivated, and have been really productive as a result.

The writing session forced me to zero in on the root of the issue — I felt like everything was slipping through my fingers and I resultantly didn’t have time to get out there like I wanted to. And if I did get out there, I felt guilty because of the amount of work that should have been getting done instead. I often feel this way when I lose sight of being intentional about my days. The first time I really heard about intentional living was via one of Lauren Ash’s Instagram stories a while back. The co-founder of Black Girl In Om, a wellness space and platform for women of color to breath easy, blew open the lid on the concept for me. A concept that resurfaced last week after my much-needed digital journaling session.

It’s something that I’ve been wanting to implement since then, but I didn’t really know how. Like, what is living intentionally? One could assume that it’s just making sure you have a plan for your day, right? Well, that’s certainly part of it. To get a clearer understanding of what living intentionally meant for my life, I began by really thinking through how I should start tackling the anxiety that comes with me not being able to be everywhere at once. I needed to understand why I experienced that anxiety. Why did I feel like I was missing out if I didn’t go out to this shindig or that happening?

It primarily came from me feeling like getting out there and going to a party or a brunch gathering meant I was going to be behind with work. That turned into me noting how I’ve ALWAYS felt behind, with everything — especially in my career. A feeling a lot of POC, particularly my fellow black folks know all too well. Then I thought “well, Nailah, if you stayed on top of your shit, then you wouldn’t  be behind when you go out to enjoy yourself.” Which also turned into “Nailah, you also need to recognize and acknowledge the great work you’re doing more often and know that you are deserving of a break here and there.” Amazing stuff, huh?

And these thoughts made even more sense after listening to BGIO’s podcast episode: Intentional Living with Roe of Brown Kids, a platform that champions unapologetic living through minimalism. Roe touched on things like how intentional living is about unlearning self-deprecating, toxic behavior, and how being intentional is a practice in fulfilling your root desires rather than filling them at the surface (i.e., buying a nice dress to cover up deep-seeded feelings of insecurity). Is your mind blown yet? Becuase my brain has reached the end of the earth, my mind is so blown.

So then came considering what living a more intentional life looks like for me and understanding how to maintain that thinking for the long haul. Here’s what I’ve discovered as good places to start, based on my life as it stands.

Living intentionally requires planning and lots of it:

First things first, the saying proper planning prevents poor performance rings so true here. I find that when I plan out how I want each day to go, I’m more likely to stick to the said plan. It’s usually when I haven’t planned out my day that I start feeling like an anxious failure.

And this goes beyond planning your workday. Try to plan everything from your work schedule to your breaks to working out to face mask time and yes, time with loved ones. Be very deliberate with following the schedule, too (this is where things get really tricky for me).

Be unapologetic about how you choose to live your life:

Turns out, this is one of Roe’s mantras, which I discovered after writing my list for this post. Guilt trips are real, and I’m a caver. Look here ladies and gents, don’t be like me. If you have to work because you have big aspirations for where you want to go in your career, don’t apologize or feel bad about that. The folks who really care about you will understand and be fine when you FINALLY answer that text you left on read an hour ago because your phone was on DND.

Steer clear of outside distractions:

Let’s face it, to be awake these days is to be constantly distracted, right? And to be intentional with what you’re doing means to be deliberate about getting things done, right? Right, so, all the more reason to stay away from being swayed by outside distractions. I find this much easier to do when I’m intentional about each part of my day. I also do things like turn off notifications for apps including all social media, and texts. And since I’m a blogger and have to utilize social media regularly, I allow myself a few minutes to peruse my social media accounts during my planned breaks so that get my fix throughout the day.

If you have a vice such as social media, or a fave tv show, allow yourself time to indulge in it during your breaks, or plan time to indulge in those things sometime in your day. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a planned work session scrolling your feed instead of getting work done or being present with your loved ones. #guilty

“Distraction is the enemy of vision” ~ Kanye West (thank goodness he’s back on Twitter)

Make a decision and STICK WITH IT:

This one might seem weird to you, but there have honestly been times where a decision to work from home or a coffee shop turned into a downward spiraling, distraction-filled, unproductive day of sulking. As a result, I’ve started to give myself like a minute to decide what to do, stick with it, and deal with whatever comes of it as it comes. Think about it, indecision leads to delays, delays lead to not getting things done, not getting things done leads to me feeling like a failure. Don’t be like me. Decide already!

Understand that the intentions you set for your life are just that…:

YOURS! Everyone will have a different approach to living intentionally. We all have different ways of planning, different distractions, different goals and so forth. Remember that and just focus on what works best for YOU. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit sulking the day away because I made the drastic mistake of comparing what I deemed to be my lackluster life to that of someone else’s seemingly more amazing life. Again, don’t be like me.

Regularly check your progress and celebrate them wins!

This one is SOOOO difficult for me, let me tell YOU! But it’s an extremely imperative step, especially with regards to staying consistent with being intentional. Acknowledging the progress you’re making is like woodchips being added to the rising fire pit flame. Pat yourself on the back every once in a while because unless you’re sleeping all day every day, playing video games, or watching Netflix, you’re doing good.

STYLE PHOTOS CAPTURED BY: MYESHA EVON | EDITED BY NAILAH ALI

STYLE VIDEO CAPTURED BY: RASHEED INGRAM | EDITED BY NAILAH ALI

Have you guys heard of intentional living? What does it mean to you? What steps, if any, have you taken to live intentionally?

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