How to Live Intentionally at Home - One Homely House (2024)

April 2, 2020


How to Live Intentionally at Home - One Homely House (1)

How do you know that you’re accomplishing anything with your life when your world is your household? I’d wager that every homemaker asks herself this question at some time or another.

It has to do with intention and integrity.

Living intentionally means knowing your purpose in life and setting goals to get you closer to that ultimate purpose.

Integrity is making sure your actions align with your goals, so you’re not professing to believe one thing while actually doing something else.

Here are some practical ideas to help you live with intention and integrity, even on the days when you’d rather be anywhere but home. Especially those days.


Living intentionally starts here. You can wander through life watching the days come and go listlessly, or you can see each one as a new opportunity to learn, grow, and form yourself into the person you were created to be.

If you want to keep growing, but feel like you’re stuck in a rut, it helps to take a step back and remember where you’re headed.

What is your ultimate goal in the eternal scheme of things? What are the smaller goals that help you get there? How does your current job or situation fit into your dreams and goals?

For example, caring for young children every day might never have been your dream. But if raising your children to the best of your ability is important to you, then this period in your life has a purpose.

You don’t have to feel happy all the time if you know that you’re going the right direction, and moving toward your goal.

But if you’re unhappy and your life goals seem unattainable, maybe you’re aiming at the wrong goal.

Maybe it’s a goal you set for yourself years ago, and you’re not the same person now. In that case, you might need to do some deep thinking about whether or not the goals need to change.

But if your goals are sound, you can feel confident that you’re headed in the right direction. This may not sound like a big deal, but it makes your daily duties more meaningful- and therefore more bearable.

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It’s great to fix your eyes on a goal, especially when you’re going through tough times. Just be careful that you don’t let that goal absorb all of your attention, or life will slip away from you.

Another bad habit is to let yourself be continually distracted. Media, in its many forms, is the number one distraction for most people today.

It is so easy for us to fall into this habit, myself included! But it’s so destructive. Before you know it, you’re paying more attention to a screen than to your spouse, kids, or God.

When this happens, we find ourselves living a lie: we say that our faith and families are important, but if something else is taking up most of our time, that can’t really be true.

How can we stop getting distracted? Take time to really be present- to live in the moment- at least once a day.

Put away your phone. Shut off your computer. Feel the warm sun or cool rain on your face. Smell the damp earth. Listen to your children. Look your spouse in the eye and have a heartfelt conversation.

It may seem strange at first, accustomed as we are to distractions. But living in the present moment gives your life richness. We are not machines, working mechanically with no self-awareness.

When we take the time to look around and become aware of our surroundings, we can appreciate not only the tangible world around us, but also things like beauty, goodness, and humor. Awareness of these is what makes human life so amazing and precious.

Your life is amazing and precious! Don’t let it slip away while you’re distracted.


Please don’t take this to the extreme. I am not recommending a total renovation of your house here. But if you spend most of your time at home, why not add some personal touches to make it a place where you truly enjoy being?

Perhaps most people don’t need to be told to get creative and make their house look nice. But I admit that I have trouble with it.

I’ve been renting for the past eight years (four different places), and it’s hard for me to justify spending money on furniture or decor items when I know that we’ll be moving again. As a result, none of our furniture matches, and there are only a few pieces that I actually like.

We got a new (used) couch recently, and it made me realize how much I had disliked the old one. I actually enjoy looking at and sitting on this one! What a difference it makes when you like your furniture, instead of just putting up with the least expensive option.

Again, I’m not suggesting you go out and buy lots of new furniture. Maybe all that’s needed is a rearrangement of what you already own.

But if there are pieces you really dislike, see if you can start replacing them slowly. It might take a while; that’s okay. This can be a long-term project.

But this section isn’t only about furniture. What else can you do to make your home a pleasant place to live?

  • Set out a vase of fresh flowers or some potted houseplants
  • Hang some cheery curtains
  • Open a window and enjoy the breeze
  • Bake something delicious
  • Use pretty tablecloths, place mats, or napkins
  • Make a pretty tea shelf or cabinet to store your favorite teas and accessories
  • Light a candle (or two)
  • Clear the clutter
  • Display the things you love where you can see them
  • Turn off unnecessary noise and distractions

What else can you think of?

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Now that you’ve made your house a welcoming and pleasant place to live, it’s time to leave it for a while. Make it a goal to get outside every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Sunlight and fresh air can work wonders for a tired, drooping spirit- and you don’t have to live in the tropics!

I just spent a long, cold, Alaskan winter inside our little cabin. I barely poked my nose outside for over two months. For me, that is no way to live. I need fresh air! When I finally did venture out again, I felt so much better, even though it was still cold.

Spending time outside, even just 10-15 minutes, refreshes my mind and melts my worries away. Sometimes your house becomes a cocoon insulating you too snugly from the rest of the world. Stepping outside reminds you that there’s a whole big world out there, and you’re part of it!

How can you convince yourself to start spending time outside? Plant some flowers or herbs. Hang your laundry out to dry. Take walks around your neighborhood. Ride a horse- or a bicycle. Go for a hike. Meet a friend for a picnic.

Even in the winter, there are plenty of outdoor activities: walking, ice skating, snow shoeing, and skiing, to name a few.

Yes, it’s cold in the winter. It’s hot in the summer. Sometimes it’s raining, or windy. Maybe you’re just too busy. I can always come up with an excuse to stay indoors if I don’t feel like it.

If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself: Would I rather experience a little discomfort and get outside, or stay stuffy and cranky indoors?

If you choose to ignore your excuses and go outside, you won’t regret it!


Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re productive just because you’re busy. You’re only productive if you’re making progress toward your life goals.

There are a million things you could do each day, but you don’t have to do all of them. Busyness is not a virtue.

If you’ve thought about your life’s purpose and established goals, you can look at all the things you do each day and determine whether they are helping or hindering your progress toward these goals.

Sometimes something comes up unexpectedly and demands your attention. I’m not talking about those because you can’t control them or prepare for them. But there are probably a lot of things you do each and every day. They’re habits.

Habits contribute to busyness because we keep doing the same things over and over without really evaluating their effects. Unproductive habits merely waste time and distract us from what’s really important. Before we know it, we don’t have time for anything extra, and maybe not even for the things and people that are truly important.

This is not a good way to live. It’s a recipe for burnout and discouragement. What can you do to fix it?

Start evaluating your habitual actions, and the things you do over the course of a normal day. It’s probably easiest to examine them one at a time, as you start to do something out of habit, instead of all at once.

Ask yourself if the habit is getting you closer to your goal, or driving you farther away from it. Some actions don’t seem to be related at all, initially.

Take, for example, brushing your teeth. This is not a morally good or bad action, and it might not seem connected to any of your life goals.

But it’s part of caring for your body, and contributes to your overall health. So if you aspire to be healthy, then brushing your teeth helps you accomplish this goal. Likewise, if you aspire to be neat and tidy, brushing your teeth helps with that goal, too.

Some actions might be helpful in small doses, but quickly become counter-productive if you spend too much time on them. I’m thinking of social media specifically, which is a terrific time waster! I am ashamed of how much time slips away from me in this manner when I’m not careful.

Even if you don’t use social media, don’t think you’re immune to this! There are plenty of other habits that fall into this category.

Make sure your habits are helping you become a person you respect. If they’re not, stop now- and cultivate a new habit in its place.

This is more effective than merely trying to stop an ingrained habit. If you don’t replace it with something, you will feel like something’s missing, and you’ll be more likely to slide back into the bad habit you stopped.

Replacing a negative habit with a positive one is essentially distracting yourself. It’s hard to stop a habit, especially if it’s an old one. Cultivating a new habit at the same time really does help, because you probably won’t have time for both!


You probably don’t reevaluate your life’s purpose every single day. It’s not necessary, if you’ve formulated goals and identified what you need to work on to achieve them.

But even if you’ve done this, it’s still easy to get caught up in the multitude of urgent issues demanding your attention. It’s easy to go from one thing to another from morning till night, and repeat this for days or weeks without pause.

By the time you finally raise your head and remember your goals, you might be off track a little- or a lot.

How do you keep your sights focused on eternal goals in the midst of everyday life?

Start every morning with a brief reminder of why you’re here and where you’re going.

That might be a morning prayer or offering, dedicating all your work and all you do each day to the Lord. It might mean writing down some of your long-term goals and looking at them every day, so you can keep yourself focused on them throughout the day.

Another practice I find helpful is to start the day by determining the one best thing I can do today. Then I do it. Maybe not first thing in the morning, but I will get it done if I start the day determined to do so.

Your one best thing doesn’t have to be a huge and noble task. Sometimes it’s writing a letter to a friend or family member. Sometimes it’s cleaning up a pile of clutter that you’ve been ignoring. Sometimes it’s asking yourself a difficult question that you don’t want to think about.

Start small. Determining to do one good thing each day might seem like nothing, but even small acts of love keep you aiming upward and moving toward your goals.

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The best way I know to banish a negative attitude is to be genuinely grateful for your blessings. So many things have been given us, which we did nothing to deserve. Every one of us has many reasons to be grateful.

But you can’t be grateful at all if you’re focused on yourself. (I’ll be the first to admit that I focus inwardly all too often.) This inward focus makes yourself the center of the universe, and it skews all of your relationships.

That’s why the opposite of love is selfishness, or self-love. Love focuses outward, on other people. It wants the best for them (and not out of false piety, which really glorifies itself). Selfishness focuses inward, and hoards the best for itself.

To have a grateful spirit, you need to know your place in the world. This is called humility: realizing just how small you are, and yet how significant, how precious your life is.

When you can see yourself, other people, and the world itself in their proper relationships, then you can begin to see goodness, and be grateful for it.

You begin to see through the lens of gratefulness, and discover more and more gifts: a dazzlingly clear sky, the soft sound of raindrops, a baby’s tiny hand, or the worn and callused hand of an old man.

Everything is a gift, if you have the sight to see it.

Set your goals intentionally, and live with integrity

You may have noticed a theme here. Each injunction involves pausing to examine some part of your life, and making adjustments when your actions don’t line up with your goals.

That’s not an accident. You can only move upward if you’ve set a true goal, and setting a goal doesn’t guarantee accomplishing it.

You have to be intentional about the way you live your life if you want to accomplish good or great things. Saints and heroes aren’t made by accident. They are formed through discipline and integrity.

Jordan Peterson captures the essence of what it means to “live properly” in his 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos:

Orient yourself properly. Then–and only then–concentrate on the day. Set your sights at the Good, the Beautiful, and the True, and then focus pointedly and carefully on the concerns of each moment. Aim continually at Heaven while you work diligently on Earth. Attend fully to the future, in that manner, while attending fully to the present. Then you have the best chance of perfecting both.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan B. Peterson

Get your priorities straight first. Think about your purpose and goals. What do you need to change to become a person that you respect? How can you approach each day as a new opportunity to do good? How can you live today in the light of eternity?

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in reading more about The Purpose of Homemaking.

How to Live Intentionally at Home - One Homely House (2024)
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