Learning from Jess Lively

The With Intention Guide JessLively.com


The Optimalist’s step-by-step guide to purpose, fulfillment, & joy from closet to career.
This January, Jess posted a miniseries of content from her Life With Intention process to get her listeners started off into the new year. Three short (15m) videos later, and my brain is working in a new way. Since I have been talking about this in my Five Things posts and her videos are no longer available, I wanted to type out a few things I learned. Her three videos are categorized below:

What are Value-based intentions? 

“Value-based intentions” mean we are embodying our deepest values in a particular area of our lives. Jess notes that our values should be supported by our goals, not the other way around. Reaching goals will not make us be truly happy – it just sets us running a mouse maze to get to the next check-box.

Value-based intentions are not goals. They are: present-moment focused, positive, make you feel peaceful (not scared), flexible (not metric-focused), fulfilling to YOU (not for anyone else), and enduring over time. Jess calls this P-P-P-F-F-E (just say it aloud, it catches on!)

In this series, Jess created four categories of life to help make intentions for each aspect of our days: possessions, personal habits, relationships, and career.

How to create Value-based intentions:

1. Define your Values

Remember, they follow “PPPFFE” (above),  and are not “check-boxes”. Jess recommends to write to yourself to dig deep & figure it out in yourself. Ask yourself, “why is ___  (one of the four categories) important to me? What in ____ (this aspect of my life) is important to me?” And then go back and highlight words or phrases that embody your intentions.

An example of brainstorming intention for me goes something like this… I chose career because it is an aspect of life that I am most confused about right now. Remember, this is my very first time and I am in no way good at carrying out Jess’ process:

Why is career important to me? What in my career is important to me? 

My career is what I do each for a part of each day in this phase of my life. I have time before and after “work” (potentially) for other things, but to pay my bills I have to provide a service to paying people each day. Since I will work a majority of my days, it is important to me that my work fulfills my intellectually need to continue learning and growing, and my emotional need to be needed and appreciated for what I do for others. I want to be proud of the outcomes I create each day in my career, and know that the hard work necessary to achieve personal value will make me happy (even if it also makes me very tired).

2. Categorize your values.

Put these intentions into “sandwhich baggies” for each category, and make catchphrases. These four categories are possessions (ex: clothes, home), personal habits (ex: exercise, reflection), relationships (ex: patience, reciprocity), and career (ex: purpose, daily fulfillment).

Career: encourages learning, room for growth, needed & appreciated, proud of myself

3. If possible, make a catchphrase for each category, and potentially a all-encompassing “umbrella value” that will be easy to remember each day.

My career will encourage learning & growth in a position where I am a needed & appreciated by others, and create outcomes of which I am proud.

How to use Value-based intentions:

Using these Values mean to “embody your values in the present moment.” Jess suggests this interactive practice to reconnect with your values again & again over time:

1. Make your value-based intentions (above)

2. Pick a time frame –  Jess suggestions by seasons

3. Write each intention on a notecard front – then on the back, write actions you can take to embody your intention (a moderate amount, about 2-5)

4. Also, write what you what your expect the results to be from those actions. Yet, as Jess later says, we should maintain “a loose hold on expectation” in order to appreciate what is actually happening and reflect honestly.

Reflection after a season: If your actions have truly embodied your intention, reflect on that value-based intention. Are you happy? If not, then change something up – mostly likely, says Jess, change your action plan. Each day is a lesson of yeses and nos, and each day is a valuable opportunity to live your own joy.

Life with Intention: “The Big Picture”

No more chasing shiny pennies and checking off lists – happiness is not there.

Jess encourages her listeners to find “fulfilling intention that brings lasting joy in a deep way that you deserve“. With set intentions that reelect what we value and desire for ourselves, we should be able to “make decisions confidently”, and “make changes that bring peace and contentment.”

– via Jess Lively

How do you feel about this? Please let me know! @sheaesnider #jesslively

With love,



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