(This is article contains an excerpt from the book Life by Intentions by Robert Louis Sims)
Even though all of us are traveling on unique paths, I believe the road to living intentionally always progresses through the same three stages; blame, awareness, and purpose. And before you can transform your life, you must first discover which path you are currently traveling on.
1. The First Path to Living Intentionally - Blame
In this stage, you are a victim. Life happens to you, and from your point of view, it is never your fault. Life is unfair, and you refuse to get over it. Because you believe the misfortunes in your life are out of your control, you are forced to relive them. At this point in your life when things don’t go your way, you ask “Why me?”
I was personally stuck in this stage for years when it came to my writing. I claimed I wanted to be an author, but then only made excuses as to why I hadn’t written anything. Instead of just sitting down to write, I blamed my energy level, my work schedule and anything else I could find.
Symptoms of this stage show up in our lives in many ways. They appear to us as addictions, unsatisfying relationships, heavy debt, poor health, feeling empty and procrastination. We become consumed by feelings of helplessness and self-pity. At this point, we find it impossible to escape from this black hole we have created for ourselves.
If you are stuck in the blame stage? If so, the only way out is to admit to yourself that the problem is not in your excuses, it is your excuses. By blaming you create the illusion within yourself that you are trapped, and there is nothing you can do about it. In hindsight, you can see that the real problem was a lack of awareness. Awareness that you can learn from your experiences and grow. Awareness that if the change is going to happen, then it is you who must change.
2. The Second Path to Living Intentionally - Awareness
Once you start to recognize the role blame plays in your life, you are now able to begin the shift from unintentional to intentional living. In this stage, you stop asking “Why me?” and turn your focus to questions that empower you. You ask, “What can I learn from this?” and “How can I use what is happening to benefit me and others?” At this point, the pity party is over, and the healing process begins.
By learning from your experiences, you become a scientist in your own life. You gain an understanding that there are no accidents in life and start to see the power behind your choices. If you act and fail to get the results you were hoping for, you change your approach, go back out and try again.
People who are in the awareness stage have incredible control over their lives because they no longer see themselves as the victim. They are goal oriented and often high achievers. Aware of their personal power to get what they want, they set higher and higher goals for themselves.
Without purpose, though, they often find themselves striving for goals that leave them feeling empty after they are obtained. A new pattern becomes established of continuously setting and achieving goals in hopes of finally feeling fulfilled. Here striving becomes the norm.
While living at the awareness stage is far better than living in the blame stage, it still lacks the enormous joy and satisfaction that comes from living in the third stage, purpose.
3. The Third Path to Living Intentionally -
An incredible shift in your being begins to take place when you let go of blame, start learning from your experiences and become aware of your purpose in life. Accepting that there are no accidents, you begin to live intentionally. You search out your higher purpose in life and align your choices with it. By acting with purpose and intention, you begin to do less and achieve more.
Purpose gives you a whole new outlook on life. While still important, material goals that once drove you, now seem less significant. You go through your day doing what makes you happy, not worried about pleasing the rest of the world. Your joy and personal satisfaction come from knowing you are living life on your terms. All you do and subsequently accomplish is on purpose and intentional.
Reaching this stage in my life has totally transformed everything I do. To the outside world, I still look and act pretty much like the same guy, but on the inside, I am more relaxed, content and confident than ever before.
I find that sitting down to write is no longer a struggle. Before purpose, I would struggle to get my ideas on paper. I was always judging what I wanted to say, fearing that others would not find them original enough or meaningful. This need for outward acceptance left me with writer’s block, which would quickly turn into blame. I would fall victim to my personal criticism.
Aware that this need for approval was holding me back, I began to realize that my real intention for writing was to tell my story in hopes that it would make a positive difference in whoever reads it. I concluded that if no one liked what I had to say, that would be okay, but I was going to write anyway.
This internal switch from the need for recognition to intention has allowed me to create the words you are reading now. No longer do I struggle to find the phrase to say, instead I now just sit and write, allowing the words to come to me and through me. Certainly, I go back and edit, but I am no longer a victim staring at an empty page judging myself and fearing I am not good enough.
The Living Intentionally Challenge
I challenge you to take an honest look at your life and determine which stage you are in currently.
- Are you blaming your circumstances for your current position in life?
- Are you in the awareness stage and learning to use your personal power to achieve your goals?
- Are you one of the rare people in life who know their purpose?
- Are you making intentional choices that move you in the direction of your life calling?
It is imperative that you are completely honest with yourself because blame can manipulate your thoughts. You may start to become aware that you are making excuses and living in the blame stage. But then out of nowhere, your thoughts can take a complete turn slamming you back into stage one.
For example, you may have been wanting to start an exercise program for some time now, but procrastinating because you keep believing your excuses that you don’t have the time or energy to go to the gym today. Through the process of introspection, you might gain the awareness that you are blaming your lack of progress on your current energy level.
If you stayed with the awareness that your only true obstacle is your excuse, you would begin to make progress. Many times, however, this is where we get sucked back into the blame stage because we then tell ourselves that “Yes, I am making an excuse, but the reason is real.” Often blame has a tricky way of looking like awareness, keeping us stuck there even longer.
You may also believe you know your purpose when in reality it isn’t authentic to the real you. That happens when we are told from a young age who we are supposed to be, but never took the time to analyze our self and our life carefully.
Life by Intentions
If this is you, then you are in the right place. Life by Intentions provides you with the questions and exercises to help you discover what is most important to you, and how you to want to live your life.
Take a moment and think of a goal you have in life that you haven’t been able to make much progress towards or motivate yourself to begin.
Which of the three stages are you currently making decisions from; blame, awareness or purpose?
What excuses are you telling yourself that are keeping you from experiencing what you want?
To learn more, check out my article, 4 Steps to Becoming More Aware. To read it, click here.
(This is from Chapter One of my book Life by Intentions. Learn more here.)
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