The Roots of an Intentional Life


When we consider the wiggle room we have at our disposal to shape our experience of life we can easily get lost in our own little words. If we do not evaluate the real situation and employ our full capacity to influence our lives, then the possibilities may go uncultivated. Like a fallow field, what could have been possible in our lives might remain unrealized because we never cultivated our choice from thought to reality. This article explores a few ideas on how we can exercise influence in our lives.

It’s possible for us to have partially or completely broken relationship with our self. Self-awareness depends on understanding our nature and some of us never get past the words we use to describe ourselves to look at the reality of what we express through our behaviors. The truth about who we are is revealed through our behaviors. Our words may or may not be accurately descriptive of the values we express through behavior.

It is quite possible to be highly knowledgeable at the same time unaware of some or all of the communication we make through our behaviors. A father might say “My family is the most important thing to me”. He might passionately believe that statement is accurate. He might also spend most of his time working for material possessions beyond his family’s needs, and spend most of his time with friends and hobbies while ignoring the relationship needs of his family. Another person may not recognize the way they conduct their spending, the way they talk, or any other number of behaviors communicate value.

The bottom line is our real values are communicated through our behaviors. An accurate view of self-awareness can only be drawn from an unvarnished assessment of  our behaviors, not our ideals or what we would like to think. Without behaviors as the standard, our lens of self-awareness is broken.

The various tools at our disposal for perception are limited. We must make inferences about the world from a fairly small sample of reality. This can make it difficult to see ourselves and easy to be short sighted when it comes to understanding who we are. A serious gage of what our behaviors say about how we value ourselves and others is the first step toward making real choices about cultivating an intentional life.

We all know that whatever already has happened again and again in our lives is more likely to happen again unless we apply a sufficient discipline to override the pull of our habits on our lives. In addition to assessing the nature of our values through our current behaviors we also need to look at how deeply rooted those behaviors are so we can make a proper choice about what it will take to shift them if we decide to. One way to take the wind out of our sails is to start blowing in every direction. Working on too many fronts can derail any meaningful change. If we want to make numerous changes we must prioritize and recognize the level of persistence and energy we will need to employ to make the changes.

To reach the fullness of our potential we must use intentional choices that express our chosen values at every level. We cannot assume that this is taking place automatically just because we desire it to be so. This is not easy, but it is worthwhile if we want a life of choice. The alternative is to ride the currents of happenstance and culture wherever they take us.

Developing strength of intention and the persistence to overcome behavioral momentum is a must in order to experience something different than what we have now. To understand why the emphasis here is so heavily on the need for self-discipline we can look around: It is not hard to see that even modest measures of self-mastery are extremely rare. The difference between those of us that go in intentional directions and those that do not is how accurate our awareness is combined with a realistic application of our capacity for persistent resolve.


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