(This is article contains an excerpt from the book Life by Intentions by Robert Louis Sims)
In this article, I will share with you the 4 steps to becoming more intentional. In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of our true purpose and direction in life. However, by becoming intentionally aware, we can take control of our lives and live with purpose and passion.
In this blog, we'll be discussing the four key steps you can take to become more intentional in your thoughts, actions, and choices. We'll explore practical strategies that can help you cultivate greater awareness and intention in your daily life. So, let's dive in and learn how to become more intentionally aware!
What Role are You Playing?
The ability to recognize when you are playing the role of the victim and blaming your circumstances can itself be a very challenging thing to do.
As a teacher, I see this almost every day.
For example, a student who is struggling to hand in their work on time often tells me this is the last time their work will be tardy and in the future, all their work will be ready the day it is due. Of course, the next assignment is usually turned in late with some excuse attached to it, assigning blame to some unforeseen circumstance that is out of their control. Their language always reflects a victim mentality, “I had to work,” or “I had too much other homework.” Sometimes they are even victims to themselves, saying things like “I forgot,” or “I was just too tired.”
Blame also keeps you from living by your values.
I have an assignment where my students are required to make a list of their top ten values in life. Write down what they would like to be remembered for in their lives and then present their answers to the class.
The top answers I hear always revolve around the idea of being a kind and loving person. Someone who will be remembered for being supportive and understanding. When they announce this, you can see them smile and genuinely feel good about upholding their values. The irony here is that not five minutes later when they are back at their desk, they will be whispering to the person next to them or staring aimlessly at their smartphone. All the while, blatantly ignoring the next student who is presenting.
Leo Buscaglia, the author of the book Love, said this brilliantly, “I see people that are always talking about I’m a lover, I’m a lover, I really believe in love, I act the part, and then they scream at the waitress ‘Where’s the water?!’ I will believe your love when you show it to me in action.”
Ask them why they aren’t expressing their highest values at this point and nine out of ten times they will give you an excuse.
To begin the process of becoming more aware, I have come up with the following ideas you can start using today. Be patient with yourself as you practice these ideas. While change can happen in an instance, realize that in many cases it is a process that takes time.
1. Realize you have a choice.
The first step to any change you are attempting in your life begins with the realization that you always have a choice. Blaming your circumstances leads to seeing your world with blinders on. When you tell yourself, “I can’t do this because…” you are deleting what is possible for you and directing your focus to see only the limitations you believe to be real.
While it is true you only have a set number of hours in the day, how you use them is still up to you. If the change you are seeking is important enough to you, you can find a way to make it happen. As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
2. Identify your excuses.
When I was in the blame stage with my writing, I would tell myself that I didn’t have the time. In turn, this belief kept me from seeing the truth that I have plenty of time. The amount of time I had wasn’t the issue. How I chose to use my time was the real problem, but my belief kept me from seeing this reality.
What about you? What excuses are you allowing to control your life? Is it time? Resources? Energy? Whatever you are telling yourself about why you can’t have you want needs to be addressed if you are going to begin living intentionally.
3. Look for alternatives.
If you are finally ready to make a change, then you must open your mind to the endless options that choice offers you. Mentally step back from your current situation and attempt to look at it from multiple vantage points. Experiment with alternative possibilities.
Expose your excuses by writing them down and then examine each one of them. Next instead of accepting them as the reason you can’t succeed, look for ways to work around them. If time is your excuse, ask yourself the following question: “If I wanted to find more time to make this change, where could I find it?”
Looking for alternative possibilities opened my mind up to the option of writing in the mornings before I started my regular day. In turn, that led me to write my first book, Intentional Mornings.
After exploring other time slots throughout the day, I realized that six in the morning presented the best opportunity for me to sit down and write. Not only did this eliminate my excuse of not having enough time, but it also led to eliminating my excuse of not having enough energy.
Our excuses are almost always an illusion we create that keeps us from living our lives to the fullest. We can begin to shatter those illusions that create our current reality by looking for alternative ways to solve the challenges in our lives. If we only focus on what isn’t possible, we will never discover what is?
4. Listen to and challenge your self-talk.
People stuck in the blame stage are easy to spot if you know how to listen. Their self-talk reveals their pessimism and doubt. They always seem to be aware of what won’t work, but rarely what will. For example, listen to your thoughts right now. Are they full of reasons why these ideas that work for myself and countless others won’t work in your life? If so, then you may be deep into the blame stage.
Common self-talk that reveals the victim mindset always reflects an attitude of suffering. “Why me?” is often the staple question of people who live in the blame stage. Instead of looking for ways to take control of their lives, they search for more proof to support their seemingly hopeless circumstances.
When a person in the blame stage goes through a painful breakup, they often ask “Why me? Why can’t I find someone to love me?”
If they lose their job, they ask, “Why do things like this always happen to me?” These questions do nothing to help us gain insight into the real reason behind our situations. They only lead to self-pity and feelings of helplessness.
The whole nature behind the words “Why me?” implies that the things that happen to me are out of my control and I must have been born to suffer the unfair treatment bestowed on me.
To learn more read my article on how to challenge your negative self-talk. To read it, click here.
(This is from Chapter One of my book Life by Intentions. Learn more here.)