How setting intentions for your life and daily actions can guide you through the maze of frustration and anxiety and into your amazing dream life
Author Charles Swindoll once said,
“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, but I also understand how challenging it can be to put our emotions on pause and shift how we react to people we feel frustrated by, or in situations we find very challenging.
The good news is that there is a simple way to shift our thoughts in any given moment to make any circumstance or situation easier and more peaceful to navigate.
After investing the last 40 years studying and mentoring others in transformational principles – and living with intention – I’ve found that chances are the issues you’re facing aren’t so cut and dry.
You don’t always have control over what happens in your life
Say someone cuts you off in traffic, or a person checking you in for your flight at the airport is rude.
Or your partner comes home acting cranky after a challenging day at work.
Here’s a thought exercise that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in the moment for shifting perspective, and re-calibrating my thoughts to be open to the possible good.
Just for a minute, I’d like you to imagine that you actually hired that person to cut you off in traffic.
You hired that person at the airport to be rude to you.
You even hired your partner to come home cranky.
If you imagine that this is the case, would you feel differently about the person or situation? How would you choose to respond?
There’s something about money and investing our resources that brings ownership to a situation, creating an openness for good things to blossom as a result.
So imagine now that you’ve invested in the frustration you’re experiencing – you invited it in to give you something beneficial to your life.
Looking at your life from the perspective that you CHOSE every person and circumstance in it can be incredibly liberating and one of the first steps toward living with intention!
It’s because no matter who you encounter or what your circumstances are, you always have the power to choose how you respond.
And sometimes, you just need a little reminder that you actually have a choice.
When life feels like a maze
My granddaughter, Allie, showed me a wonderfully simple way to look at this.
One evening, as I was enjoying dinner at a restaurant with her, our host gave her a small placemat menu with a maze on it. Allie smiled and said,
“I want to show you something.”
She then set her finger at the end of the maze, tracing her way backward to the beginning.
Having done this, she took her pencil, and easily found her way to the end of the maze. She said,
“When you start at the end first, then you know where you want to end up, and it’s easier to find your way.”
Here she had just demonstrated one of the most profound and important principles of success and I replied,
“You know what, Allie, that’s just how it is in life. If you know where you want to end up, it’s a whole lot easier to find your way.”
Take a look and think about the life you truly want to live – the life that would bring you joy every day, and make you thrilled to wake up every morning because you’ll spend that day doing what you love.
Years ago, an anthropologist named Joseph Campbell wrote a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces
In this book, he describes something called The Hero’s Journey – a series of events that most heroes go through on their path toward ultimate victory and success.
The Hero’s Journey goes something like this:
An average person sets out to accomplish a challenging task. Along the way, the person faces great difficulty, and after a long and arduous journey, they eventually overcome adverse circumstances. And in the end, the hero discovers that they have more power and potential than they ever dreamed of.
You are the hero in your journey
Just like the hero in The Hero’s Journey, you have way more power and potential than you know – and you can tap into this power any time you want
When you choose to shift your thinking from a place of frustration to a place of curiosity, something magical and actually miraculous begins to happen…
You start to realize that no one but you has the power to take away your peace of mind.
Of course, you probably wouldn’t choose to be cut off in traffic, or spoken to in a certain way.
But since events like this happen all the time, and are mostly beyond your control, why not use situations like these to empower yourself to be the best you can be?
Bad days are inevitable
You, like everyone else, will most likely encounter unfavorable people and circumstances throughout your life.
But the good news is you have complete authority over how you choose to react to every experience.
That person at the airport who was rude to you while checking you in for your flight… have you ever wondered if they were having a hard day? Why not send them a little prayer as you walk to your gate, or silently send them a blessing for a better rest of the day?
Most likely you would have preferred that they had been pleasant, but since they weren’t, how can you maintain a pleasant attitude within yourself regardless of what they are or are not doing?
When we begin to disconnect from the demand that people be who we want them to be, and circumstances be the way we want them to be, we discover that we have a hidden power in us… and it’s the power to choose who we’re going to be, no matter the circumstance, situation or condition.
So the next time someone does something or an event happens that annoys or frustrates you, I encourage you to:
- Take a deep breath.
- Hit your internal pause button.
- Ask yourself, “What if I hired this person?”
If you still feel angry, turn up the volume on your curiosity.
Then ask yourself:
“What is one step I could take, right now, that would help me towards my goal of living with intention?”
But what if you don’t know what you’d love for your life?
If you’re not sure what kind of life you’d really love, you’re far from alone.
Many people do not feel they have clarity when it comes to a reason, a purpose or a vision on why we do what we do. We just have been taught to ignore our dreams for so long that those dreams have become quiet, their guiding voices faded to a soft whisper.
But those dreams are still there.
They always will be, and now is the time to reactivate them and let them know they are alive and kicking!
Here are 4 questions you can use to set intentions and find the ideal end of your maze
1. What do I love doing that I’d gladly do for free?
This could be something you’re currently doing as a hobby, a part of your work that you wish you could spend more time on, or something you dreamed of doing as a child, and still long to do.
For some people, it may feel odd or unrealistic to imagine spending all day on something you currently do only in your free time. But it is likely that as a child, you were taught that it was neglectful or bad to spend too much time on the things you love, and that you were only being productive when you were doing chores you didn’t enjoy.
It’s important for you to know that the things you love and are passionate about are not random.
They are the voice of your highest self, calling you toward your true purpose. You have permission to set an intention and follow this call!
2. What would I love to experience everyday?
Take a moment to think about the things you’ve been longing to do or experience that would bring you aliveness.
- Is there a conversation or interaction that you wish you could have more often with some of the important people in your life?
- Would you like to change a relationship that is not serving you or the other person?
- Is there an activity you’d like to do, such as traveling to a new country, or maybe it’s learning a new skill like skiing, or perhaps it’s something that you haven’t had much time or opportunity to do lately?
- Maybe you have a desire for a change in your environment, such as moving to your favorite city or living in your dream home?
What do you want your life to look like?
3. What would I love to create?
What is one group, cause or person that you would like to leave better or happier than they were before they met you?
Is there a transformation in people’s lives or the world, a work of art, a feeling, a resource of knowledge, or a product or invention that you want to give the world during your precious time on Earth?
4. What are the problems I routinely notice in my life, and what would I love instead?
I’m not encouraging you to focus and dwell on the negative, but simply to notice it, and then shift your focus to what you want instead, towards setting intentions that give life rather than weigh you down.
For example, if you’re working too many hours, focus on how many hours you want to work each day.
Or if your body feels heavy, sick and tired, focus on how you want your body to look and feel.
The feelings of discontent and restlessness in our lives shouldn’t be the center of our attention, because you attract more of what you focus on.
But they are signals that tell you where your life is misaligned with your dream, and where you have room to move further into the life you were born to live.
The end of the maze
Congratulations! You’ve found the end of your maze. Now, how do you get there?
Okay, so you’ve figured out what your dream life looks like, or at least you are starting to get an idea of what you want to experience, so your first step is to find the first step.
Look at your dream, no matter how big or impossible it seems, and ask yourself:
“If this dream is possible – and it is – what would be the first step I’d take toward it?”
If you want to move into your dream home, start looking for houses that match the description of what you want. If you don’t know what kind of house you want, your first step is to write down a detailed description of what you desire in your new home. How many bedrooms would you love to have?
Once you know precisely what you’re aiming for, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you need in order to get there.
And now, here’s a question for you…
Are you ready to take your first step?
There is something very specific that we are here to be, do or create that will enhance the lives of those around us and bring us the greatest joy and deepest fulfillment in the process.
The first step to living that life is to DECODE what your life’s purpose truly is, and the guided meditation gift I’ve just sent you will help you do this.
The natural next step is for you to create a clear vision for your future that’s aligned with your true calling, so that you have something to actually live INTO. My free meditation “Developing the Mastery of Intention” will help you do precisely that!