A few years ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine that absolutely shocked me. In this conversation I had commented about how impressed I was with some of the changes he had made to his life over the last 15 years, and that I was grateful to have seen his growth over that time. His response: “Do you think I’ve really changed all that much? I haven’t really thought about it at all.”
Thankfully this conversation was taking place over the phone because I know he would have seen my jaw hit the floor when he said that. I was so shocked that he had gone 15 years without taking notice of his personal growth that I specifically searched for clarification that I had heard him correctly. And sure enough… 15 years of being a human, and not once had he considered the changes he had been making during that time… like… NOT ONCE!
And yet, as a spiritual teacher I have seen this over and over again in different parts of people’s lives. Rarely do I see it in EVERY part of someone’s life, but most of us have aspects of our existence that we don’t really take much notice of. Autopilot and childhood domestication can so easily become the norm, and yet, we instinctively know that life is best lived when we create it the way we truly want it. So why do we so easily find ourselves on autopilot in life?
I, for one, have been on autopilot for most of my life when it comes to my physical appearance. As intentional and aware as I am about so many other aspects of life (spirituality, relationships, personal growth, personal calling, etc.), I have only recently discovered just how asleep and domesticated I’ve been when it comes to how I present myself to the world as a physical human being.
Thankfully, I have spent years cultivating the art of intentionality and awareness, so turning my attention to my physical presentation of ‘Austin’ to the world hasn’t been an extremely difficult transition. Nonetheless, it is the power of these two tools that I’ve turned to once again, and it is the power of these tools that I want to convey in this short article.
Have you ever wondered why the experience of a mid-life crisis is so common for people? It is because somewhere along the way in life, people fall asleep at the wheel of their life and start to let things steer them instead of them steering the things. Fear of lack, risk of the unknowns, resistance to change, finding your identity as a victim, and so many other circumstances that we find ourselves in tend to ‘lock us in’. We wake up one day to find that we’ve somehow stumbled into someone else’s life, and then we have a choice to make. This moment of decision often does not go well because people who find themselves in this spot rarely have the internal skills necessary to move forward efficiently.
How do you avoid this common mistake?
You guessed it… Intentionality. Living your life ON PURPOSE. Every aspect of your life (not just your favorite ones).
I don’t feel like I need to explain intentionality to most people given that we all know what that internal muscle is like in some way. Whether it be sports, spirituality, hobbies, family, our professions… whatever… All of us know how to be intentional in something, yet FEW of us have considered activating that intentionality in ALL things.
As someone who has very recently discovered an area of life that I hadn’t activated my ‘intentionality muscles’ for, I can tell you, it really is the first step to building the life you’ve always wanted.
Once you have activated intentionality, awareness becomes the proverbial ‘volume knob’ with which you manage the pace of change for the life you’re building.
One of my favorite books in the world is The 4 Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. In this book, Miquel does an amazing job of explaining just how easily we let life begin to rule us, instead of us ruling life. And while it is obvious that intentionality is the foundation for rapid change and movement, the 4 Agreements (and the entire
It is awareness that allows you to gauge how well you’re doing. It is awareness that collects feedback from the people and circumstances around you. It is awareness that discovers new lessons and finds new ideas.
If I may use an analogy… If
In the end… not choosing to steer your life is still a choice. It simply means that life will master you, instead of you mastering life. Which would you prefer?