4 Surprising Steps To Live Your Life On Purpose

What does it mean to live life on purpose? What does intentional living look like? The answer is different for everyone. Click through for 4 things I do to make sure my life looks + feels the way I want. #selfdevelopment #selfhelp #motivation #intentionalliving

On more than one occasion, a well-meaning friend has told me to “let my hair down” or “loosen up” or “stop with the lists already.”

And while I appreciate their concern* I’m pretty happy with my life, thankyouverymuch.
I’m happy with my life because I carefully, conscientiously made it awesome.

Like, on purpose. With lists and journals and stuff.

How to live your life on purpose

1. I think about how I want to feel + do things that make me feel that way

Like pretty much every other woman on the internet, I’m a big fan of The Desire MapDanielle LaPorte’s method for happiness and fulfillment. She encourages those of us who are addicted to our to-do lists and quantifiable goals (“$75K a year with a corner office”) to instead pinpoint a few core desired feelings and then do things that will create those feelings.

So instead of a 15-item to-do list, I think of three things I can do today that will make me feel proud (call my grandma, fix that wobbly chair, go to the gym) and two things I can do today that will make me feel psychologically lean (cancel the Netflix subscription I never use, clean out my junk drawer.)

2. I stopped doing things or hanging out with people who make me feel bad

I’ve never been particularly inclined towards ‘frenemies’ or self-destructive behavior, but I’ve certainly had my share of embarrassment-inducing friends and activities that I did out of obligation or a desire to be The Type Of Person Who Can Make A Souffle.

You know what? People who drag you down and activities that suck you dry are a waste of your time and energy. And who has time for that? Approximately no one.

3. I schedule time to try new things + do things that I love

Yes, I realize it’s not particularly sexy to scrawl ‘1 fun thing’ onto my Every Damn Day list, but if I don’t make Fun Things a priority? I’ll end the day feeling productive and accomplished …. and sort of bored and hateful.

That’s why every year I make a list of new things I want to try and then wrangle my incredibly patient friends into joining me. That’s why I travel three months a year. That’s why I carve time into my day for thrifting and new recipes and reading by the river.

Really, filling my life with things I love is an extremely conscious effort. It’s a daily struggle not to fall down internet hole after internet hole.

4. I plan my social + work life around my introverted nature

Did you know I’m the friendliest, chattiest introvert you’ll ever meet? I’ll introduce myself to strangers, I’m happy to attend events where I know no one, and I can make friends with your throw pillow.


After three hours of social interaction, the light inside me turns off and I need to sit somewhere quiet, by myself. It took me years to realize this about myself – I wasn’t just ‘tired’ or ‘in a weird mood.’  I’m introverted.

Now that I know that, I try to make plans accordingly. I’m not really interested in more than two social obligations a day and if I’m in a big group of people for a long time? I’ll invent some sort of ‘errand’ I ‘need’ to run and then hustle off all by my lonesome for a bit.

How do you live your life on purpose? What’s one thing you could do to add a little intention to your daily life? 

*Not really. Mostly I just feel judged and slightly annoyed.

P.S. How to figure out what makes you happy so you can add more of it to your life

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash

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  1. Anonymous

    What is the most adult way to break up with one of those soul sucking "friends"?

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Good question, Anon! If someone's not really malicious, just negative or a bit self-absorbed, I try to only see them in group situations or for super short periods of time – like a happy hour when I have to be somewhere else in an hour and a half 😉

  2. Julia Cassels

    I've just become a facilitator for The Desire Map. It REALLY has changed the way I think and act. Since I started doing that, I've gotten published on a national platform (!), made more money, made more *real* friends who don't suck the life out of me, and am so much happier, it's unbelievable.

  3. Vanessa Vancour

    I'm currently reading the Desire Map and LOVE it. What a great post!

  4. Kate

    Wonderful post Sarah!

  5. Rachel Ann Pierce

    Love it. As a fellow introvert I especially like number 4.

    Similarly, I don't do things that I'm not interested in. When my (loving, wonderful) friends invite me to events/movies/parties that I'm not interested in I've said "no thanks" without giving any other excuse so many times they've stopped asking.

  6. Anna

    Love the description of the "light going out" inside you. I am a textbook introvert and totally experience that moment as well. But it took me a while to recognize it, and it is a work in progress to honor it and leave the party when it happens.

  7. Rachel

    Sarah! After two friends within two days asking me if I was an introvert, I finally googled around, spent my lunch break taking some version of the Myers-Briggs test, and holy toledo, I AM AN INTROVERT.

    I had no idea, because like you, I'm more than happy to meet new people (and internet friends!), tell the cashier to have a great evening, and hang out with my bffs alllllll the time. But suddenly I understand why I don't see eye to eye with people who ALWAYS want to hang out / never want to be alone, and why after a certain amount of party time I "tap out." I remember an old boyfriend getting really, sincerely mad at me because I took a solo road trip to Texas when I had some rare time off work, instead of going on yet another couples' weekend with him… and I couldn't understand why he didn't understand.

    Even though nothing about me has changed, understanding how my introvert tendencies differ from extroverts' helps me understand my needs – and theirs! – sooo much better!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! I'm so glad I had this realization now rather than later (and I imagine it would have saved my ex-boyfriends some seeeerious headaches!)

  8. Danielle Zeigler

    I can relate to this post so much! I was working on writing my "How I Live on Purpose" post earlier and The Desire Map came up in mine too. It has made such a huge difference in how I perceive my goals, making it easier to make intentional decisions in my life. Of course I love your #4, too, since I'm a self-proclaimed introvert! It's so important to know how to manage your energy.

  9. vickieveldhoen

    #2 is SO true. I can't say that I've ever been friends with people that I've hated but I have gone along to do activities that I have no interest in whatsover… simply because of a shared history. But now that I'm older it just seems like a waste of time. If I don't want to do what they're doing (even if I love them), then I won't!

  10. Chrystal

    Wow. New to your blog, but have to agree with #4. I think I am like that and didn't know it. I am very friendly and can be fine at parties where I know no one, but I do like my ME time. You describe this perfectly.

    And I love the second half of #1 – perhaps that is what I need to do instead of making such long lists. I adore list making, so this might be a solution!

    New follower. Off to check out some more of your writing.

  11. Kaylin Lydia

    Ohhhhhh wow to #4!! I'm glad I'm not the only one! It took me years to figure this out about myself and it's been life changing!

  12. The Rachael Way

    Freaking love this post. Bookmarking it… but wait, everything you write I bookmark? Oy.

  13. Free Like Water

    Speaking of Meyers-Briggs and introversion, I recently learned that I'm an INFJ. Would love to meet others in the same boat, since we are apparently very rare!
    I seem to be bookmarking every single one of your posts, too! 🙂

    • Kaylin Lydia

      After my therapist made a comment about me being introverted (mind blowing!!), I've been referring to myself as an extroverted introverted. I just happened to see your comment and did some research – I had never heard of all that! It was like I was reading a description of myself, crazy! I'll be looking into it more. Thank you!

    • Free Like Water

      Oh wow–thank you for writing this, Kaylin! So glad I could help! My favorite site for personality stuff is Personality Junkie–written by two people and the woman is an INFJ. This topic (as well as introversion in general) is one of my current obsessions–planning to write a ton about it on my blog if I can ever get back to blogging again! I love finding out that so many of the people I'm drawn to online are introverts, and am convinced that many of them are INFJ's–amazing when we're just 1 or 2 percent of the population! 🙂

  14. Lisa Sperling

    Sarah, your posts are the best! An introvert myself I can relate to #4 – I've become much more mindful about how I schedule my social events, too. It's taken me a while to figure out what my limitations are, but now that I'm aware, I feel much more in control (for me 2 hours are perfect). I've heard so much about Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map – I need to finally read it! And I LOVE your list of new things you want to try. I browsed through your archives and am inspired to create my own 🙂

  15. Meg @ Adventures in Verdance

    I know that I am an introvert — I always have been. I would much rather hang out in my apartment with a cat than go be social. However, I made a conscious decision long ago, 4th grade, to be exact, to pretend to be extroverted and social. The issue at the time was that I had only one friend, and she was out sick with some extended disease (chicken pox, maybe?), and I realized that while having only one best friend had some downfalls.

    Ever since, when I describe myself as an introvert, people wholeheartedly disagree with me. Aside from my immediate family, no one remembers me being an introvert. It's been hard and it takes a lot of intent, but it has made such a difference in my life.

    In short, I totally associate with what you just said up there. There is a certain point when my cup becomes full and I have to back away slowly for some me time. Never feel like you have to apologize for those 'errands'. That kind of personal maintenance is *so* important.

  16. uncustomary

    So good, Sarah! Love this list. Especially making time and actually *planning* to try new things! I think we should all do that!

    Uncustomary Art.

  17. Maxine

    Hello, I'm new to your blog, can't remember how I got here, but I just love this post! Agree with everything on the list, do most of them by instinct and am also a very "chatty" introvert. Thanks for writing!

  18. Sharyn

    I agree, The Desire Map is life changing! As an Empath, Highly Sensitive Person and INFP, I really found myself when I delved into The Desire Map. Being Sensitive made sense finally! I am so passionate about it that I became a Desire Map Facilitator and I run in person workshops here in Australia, and online. I never thought I’d run workshop, but like you Sarah, yep, I’m a friendly chatty introvert!!

  19. María

    #4 is genious, but I agree with the whole article overall. It’s nice to know there are other introverts and addicted to lists people like me in the world, lol!

  20. Carla Cram

    Thank you, this is a great post

  21. Teya|tlmblog

    I love how you mention that you decide how you want to feel and then plan your day around that!

  22. Halina

    Another great post Sarah!

    I know that “Stop doing things that make you feel bad (*or just don’t like)” sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many of us don’t follow that. I don’t like most museums. I find them boring. But when I went to Florence, Italy, I stood in line for over an hour to get tickets to the Uffizi museum, which is packed to the ceiling with art work. I mean, it’s the world renowned Uffizi museum! Yes, it’s beautiful art work, but for the most part, I was bored.

    Years later, I’m in Paris and my husband and I go to the Louvre and look at each other. Should we? Nope. We don’t like museums.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! I don’t care about art museums or most history-related things! But I love poking around foreign grocery stores, hikes, diners, and having conversations with locals – so that’s where I put my time, energy, and money!

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