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Mullica (Creative Commons)


My friend Ngina Otiende is guest posting today about intentional living.

Ngina is a writer, avid reader and recovering last-born, currently rebuilding a consulting business after moving 8,000 miles across the globe. She loves green tea, laughter and helping others take charge of their lives. She is married to her hero and they live in Maryland. You can find her on twitter @nginaotiende or at her blog.

I am a last born child (in a family of nine kids!). I don’t understand all there is to birth order, but I know being a last born child has shaped my life in a big way.

Last born children generally get a sweeter deal compared to older siblings. By the time the last child swings by, the parents have been-there-done-that with the older sibling(s). They are a bit relaxed. The last born kid gets to bounce along in life, experiment, get away with stuff, break some rules – all without starting a Third World War at home. At least that was how it was for me.

The last born child often grows up expecting others and life to pick up after him or her. They get miffed when life doesn’t serve up what they want.

The truth is that many of us are living our lives like last-borns.

We blame others – the past, colleagues, boyfriends, parents, bosses, wives, anyone but us – for the circumstances and conditions of our lives.

We hope to give minimum effort and reap maximum gain. We crave lives filled with ease and comfort – we self-medicate from the pains of a broken world because we are broken within.

It took awhile for me to understand that success is not something you wish for or hope to happen to you. It’s something you actively pursue. And not in a haphazard manner. It must be through deliberate choices.

Put simply, intentional living is living in a thought-out, pre-meditated way…making daily choices that lead toward success.

To live intentionally…

1. Know why you are here.

You must be a purpose-pursuer. Purpose means ‘the reason for which anything is done, created or exists’. It is very difficult to be intentional about ‘nothing’. You can’t pursue ‘nothing’. Knowing the reason for your existence gives you a target to aim at. It acts as a motivator. There are many ways to discover your purpose. Explore your gifts, talents, passions, and what others say you are good at.

2. Change your thinking.

To live intentionally, you must acquire a new mindset. It will mean confronting your inner fears and having the courage to change your present. This inner change will show in the actions you take and the decisions you make.

3. Simplify your life.

Focus on the important things and drop the others. It’s very hard to be successful when your energy is split in a thousand different directions. Most successful people become good at one thing, but not everything. When a gardener wants a flower bush to flourish, he prunes it. De-cluttering will mean letting go of some things as you reach for better things.

4. Persevere.

You must have a winner’s attitude. Success is not an overnight event. It is a long journey. You must be willing to put in the effort and work required over a long period of time.

Question – Are you living intentionally? Do you struggle with any of these four areas?