On my journey towards intentional living, I carry the words of my favourite historical figures, authors, philosophers and thought leaders with me. They motivate me on the days I lack self-discipline, put me in the right mindset, and gently guide me towards personal growth (sometimes it’s more of a kick up the backside, but whatever – I need it!).
If you’ve ever felt like you lack agency in your own life, then it’s time to get out of the passenger’s seat and take the wheel. From questioning your internalised beliefs to identifying your values, you are responsible for everything in your life – so stop being passive, playing the victim, or letting other people affect your inner peace.
It’s time to reclaim your personal power.
These intentional living quotes are profound and thought-provoking… And, more than anything, they remind you that you’re not alone in striving for a more purposeful life. I hope that they serve to inspire you in your quest to live intentionally!
What Is Intentional Living?
Intentional living is the counter-cultural antidote to a relentless, consumer-capitalist, 21st-century rat race. It’s about purposefully designing your life to prioritise the things you value the most – simultaneously eliminating the non-essentials and making time for more of what matters.
If you’re tired of working harder and stressing more, all to feel miserable as you lay in bed contemplating the meaning of life, then you’re not alone.
It’s time to start living your life for YOU.
I know what an unintentional life looks like, because I’ve lived it. It’s short-term dopamine hits in the form of fast fashion hauls, trash TV and fast food. It’s living a life that appears outwardly successful but feels vaguely numb and hollow on the inside.
An unintentional life accepts the status quo. You grow up with cultural attitudes, beliefs, and ways of doing things that you’ve never even hesitated to question. Maybe it’s just the way your parents always did it. Or it’s what you were taught at school. But it’s not anything you’ve ever made a conscious decision about on your own.
You can go through your whole life living on auto-pilot. After all, by the age of 25, your brain is pretty much hardwired with its usual thoughts, that in turn become your beliefs, daily behaviours and character. And all of this starts to congeal into the overall trajectory of your life.
Do you know what you value? Are you clear on where you’re headed? Are you living a life of true purpose, or are you living someone else’s vision of success?
30 Self-Motivational Quotes About Being Intentional
Quotes, like affirmations, are powerful forces that you can revisit regularly to reprogram your subconscious mind and motivate you to make necessary changes. So, without further ado, here are 30 of my favourite intentional living quotes to inspire you to live your best life!
Question received wisdom to live an intentional life
The first step on your intentional living journey is to question… everything.
Questioning received wisdom isn’t an easy task, but one that is essential when it comes to building a meaningful life. Tradition can be a good thing – it forms the fabric of our cultural identities and helps us to make sense of the world. But, on the flip side, it can also be blinding and stifle independent thought.
These intentional quotes are about moving beyond the blueprint set out for you by others and forging your own path. Stop expecting to be spoonfed the answers and start making your own choices today!
Never surrender your hopes and dreams to the fateful limitations others have placed on their own lives. – Anthon St. Maarten
If you’ve ever been beaten down, told that something isn’t possible, or that a steady job is more important than going after your passions, then you’ll know how easy it is to internalise these messages. No matter how many failures you have or how many people tell you otherwise, never accept a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living!
Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside. – Anon
It’s the most natural thing in the world to crave validation from others, but people pleasing and chasing other people’s visions of success can lead to a life that isn’t authentic. Validate yourself – intentional living begins from the inside out.
Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter. – Harold Kushner
Stop searching for fulfilment in the places you’re typically told they’re found. Exploring a minimalist mindset by decluttering and buying less stuff is a good place to start.
Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore conventional wisdom. – Sam Walton
I love this quote from Sam Walton on embracing counter-culturalism. It reminds me to keep going even when the going gets tough. For example, although transitioning to veganism or breaking up with fast fashion can feel particularly hard on some days, I know it’s worth it.
Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. – Will Rogers
Amen! Focus all of your energy on the stuff that makes your soul sing.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. – Tony Robbins
It might sound like stating the obvious, but it’s true both on an individual and a societal level – you’ve got to change the input to change the output. Oh, and by the way, Tony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within is a great place to start if you’re looking to be more intentional in every area of your life.
Living intentionally means knowing your why
When you pause to question everything you once held as gospel, it’s normal to be left feeling a little disoriented and lost. This is where identifying your personal system of values comes in – perhaps one of the most important things you can do if you want to live intentionally.
This is something that is surprisingly lacking in our education system and that not enough people ever get round to figuring out.
By practising mindfulness and knowing what is most important to you, big and small decisions become so much easier. You also have more willpower to do difficult things and hold yourself accountable when you’ve identified why they matter.
These quotes are a little reminder for you to revisit your personal values statement anytime you need to get back to intentional living basics!
A highly developed values system is like a compass. It serves as a guide to point you in the right direction when you are lost. – Idowu Koyenika
I like the analogy of a value system being like a compass. If you feel lost, consider whether you have built a stable foundation with a considered system of values. I’d really recommend taking the time to do this – it’s possibly the best half-hour you’ll ever spend!
When you get right down to it, intentional living is about living your best story. – John C. Maxwell
If your reality is dictated by your thoughts, then at least make the story you’re telling yourself a good one!
It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. – Roy E. Disney
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde
Start living on purpose and less on autopilot to live life to the fullest.
Core values serve as a lighthouse when the fog of life seems to leave you wandering in circles. – J. Loren Norris
Another striking analogy – your core values can always be relied on to guide you in the right direction.
Open your arms to change but don’t let go of your values. – Dalai Lama
A good reminder from the Dalai Lama to stay flexible and adaptable whilst staying true to your values. Try to become less attached to specific goals and outcomes, instead aiming to embody your values in everyday life. You can trust that compound interest will do the rest!
Intentional living requires saying ‘no’
Ah, if you’re a recovering people pleaser like myself, then this one is going to be easier said than done! Even now, I still have to catch myself taking the easy way out, i.e. saying yes to everything.
Especially as women, I think we have a tendency to try and take on the world plus the kitchen sink. We wear our stress and busyness as badges of honour, but there’s really no one heaping this pressure on ourselves… other than ourselves.
If you constantly feel the need to bend yourself into a pretzel but never actually seem to get all that much done, then a radical simplification of your daily schedule is in order! Prioritise your values and think about how you can honour them each day with these inspirational quotes.
It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. – Steve Jobs
If it works for Steve Jobs – I’m all ears!
If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no! – Derek Sivers
Derek Siver’s famous quote reminds me of Marie Kondo’s favourite decluttering question: does it spark joy? Well, maybe it’s time to apply this question to more than just stuff – the things you’re spending your time on and who you’re doing it with would be an interesting exercise to try!
Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. – Farrah Gray
This one really gets me – I’ve put my heart and soul into other people’s businesses over the years, but the best thing I ever did was to start investing in myself, my own passions and my own dreams.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically – to say no to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside. – Stephen Covey
Saying no doesn’t have to make you or the person on the receiving end feel terrible. It’s certainly easier to let people down gently when you know your why.
Prioritise your work, be clear with what you want to do in your life. – Shehnaaz Gill
How many of us are swept up in a sea of ‘yeses’ which take us down career paths we never truly signed up for? Don’t align yourself with a brand or company – align yourself with your values and you will naturally find happiness and fulfilment.
Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. – W. Clement Stone
Intentional living, authenticity and integrity all go hand in hand.
Make small changes to live a life of intention
I think that we can all be guilty of assuming that intentional living means making huge changes in our lives, and then we become so overwhelmed that we don’t even know where to start and probably just talk a lot with zero real-world action.
Well, the good news is that a small step forward is better than standing still. And, after a while, the tiniest meaningful actions add up to something quite extraordinary. If you haven’t read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits yet, then I’d recommend this to understand the power of 1% habit change – it really can radically alter the direction you’re headed in life!
For my pick of intentional living quotes to motivate you to take inspired action and embrace productivity every single day, read on.
Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it. – James Clear
Create more, consume less. This is one of the basic underlying principles of intentional living – you can read more in-depth about why it’s so important here.
Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love – is the sum of what you focus on. – Cal Newport
There is power in shifting your mindset and focusing on the things you want more of in your life. Change your thoughts for unlimited abundance. Also, check out Cal Newport’s inspiring book Deep Work.
The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Whenever you feel like you’re not where you’re meant to be in life (ah, I know this feeling well!), then pause, take a deep breath, and let it go… As long as you’re committed to self-improvement and are taking small daily actions to be the person you want to be, start to enjoy the process rather than concentrating so much on the destination.
The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities. – Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey has some wise words to share – and absolutely deserves two quotes featured in this list! Make this one mindset shift and watch your life change.
It’s not about ‘What can I accomplish?’ but ‘What do I want to accomplish’. Paradigm shift. – Brené Brown
If you’ve always felt the need to appear outwardly successful, then you’ve probably never even thought too much about what it is you want to accomplish! When you turn this question on its head, you can align the answer with your values and be more intentional.
Intentional days create a life on purpose. – Adrienne Enns
This one hits the nail on the head – focus on the 24-hour block you have in front of you rather than trying to fix your whole life in one go. The present moment is the key to an inspired intentional life.
An intentional life embraces simplicity
Last but not least, you come to realise that intentional living is really the art of living simply. Becoming intentional encouraged me to strip away many of the things I don’t need – both in terms of physical stuff as well as emotional clutter – and I began to choose more wisely the things I brought into my life.
Embracing minimalism is a wonderful way to live in the present moment, practice gratitude, and appreciate life’s simple pleasures. Time spent with loved ones or a walk in nature become so much more meaningful when you let go of modern-day stresses (honestly, there is so much more to life than shopping!). Extraordinary moments are all around us if we just stop to appreciate the little things in life.
Whilst simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean easy, the long-term rewards are worth the effort to get there.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Practice being intentional by giving your full attention to whatever it is you are doing – whether drinking a cup of tea, eating dinner, or having a conversation with a loved one. Stop multitasking and learn to be truly present.
The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction. – Ann Voskamp
You don’t need half the things you think you do to make you happy – moments of joy can be found in the simplest of moments.
The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. – Duane Elgin
A misconception of minimalism is that it involves extreme deprivation, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Voluntary simplicity can lead to more fulfilment and long-term satisfaction in life.
Simplicity boils down to two things: identify the essential and eliminate the rest. – Leo Babauta
Check out Leo Babauta’s intentional blog Zen Habits for more on simple living.
What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives? – Greg McKeown
If you haven’t read Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, then you must! It’s an essential text if you’re interested in becoming more intentional.
Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. – Lao Tzu
The Tao Te Ching can be a maddening yet endlessly profound reading experience. This ancient wisdom from Lao Tzu holds as true today as it did in 400 BC.
Intentional Quotes for a Healthy Mindset
How many of us truly live our lives with intention? Do you steer your own ship, or do you drift and let the current take you wherever it will?
Intentional living isn’t always easy, but it’s a process of self-discovery, self-discipline, and knowing yourself at a deeper level. I believe that it is the only true way to live with integrity and feel fulfilled in the long term (rather than relying on instant gratification).
I hope that these intentional living quotes inspire you on your own journey, and if you have any of your own favourite intentional living quotes that I’ve missed, then please do share them with me in the comments below!
For more inspirational quotes to build your intentional morning routine, check out these 21 motivational quotes to wake up early. And if you’ve enjoyed this post, then these top tips for being more intentional with your time are a must-read!