Living Intentionally: Step Four-Be Your Own Change Agent

“Whether you fear it, seek to avoid it, or embrace it, change is coming-and coming fast”-Biro.

Human beings are the only living creatures endowed with the capacity to change their destiny by changing their thinking. You can be a change agent and reinvent yourself by finding new ways to replace old habits. When you are receptive to new learning and growing opportunities, you can move beyond your comfort zone. As the axiom goes, “There is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.”  Risks are involved when you leave the safety and security of your comfort zone. Others may criticize or shun you when you share your goals and aspirations with them because you no longer share common interests. You may leave old friends behind, but when you become a change agent, your whole world is open to new opportunities.

When you aspire to something bigger than yourself, you acquire a profound sense of appreciation and respect for knowledge. A desire and hunger for knowledge will create a reservoir of potential power and generate strength to take action to overcome the real obstacles of change. Those obstacles are not “out there,” they are inside you. You cannot change circumstances around you without changing individual behavior. Changing individual behavior is not sustainable unless it comes from deep within. Become aware of your own reluctance to change. This step involves looking deep within and confronting your self-limiting beliefs and fears. Think of the worst case scenario if you change. One of the causes of fear of change is unfamiliarity while moving out of your comfort zone or the security of habit that allows you to exist without much effort.

You may not always be able to change your situation or circumstances, but you have the power to change your habits. Changing your habits can be accomplished by taking the following proactive steps:

Step one: Assess the context in which you will be implementing your new habit. The word habit is intended to be singular. Do not overwhelm yourself by taking on too many changes at once. The change you choose to make will be a lifetime change.

Step two: Assess environmental factors that could pose obstacles to change. Who in your circle of influence might cause resistance? Choose whether you want to include those people in your plan for living intentionally.

Focus on implementing a habit that will serve you best by enriching and improving your life. The plan to change your habits must be centered on habitual modes of thinking. Since thoughts precede action, beginning the process in the subconscious mind only makes sense. What is the most important priority in your life? What things in life consume your thoughts? Tracy makes the notion clearer, “Nothing around you has any meaning except the meaning you give it with your thoughts.” If you want to change your life you have to change your ways of thinking.

Living Intentionally: Step Three-Elevate Your Consciousness

Self-transcendence is a uniquely human trait that enables humankind not only to reflect on the past, but also on an impending future. Not only do you have the innate ability to discover who you are, but you are also bestowed with the capacity to inquire about the future. Thinking about the future is a cognitive cause of motivation. In other words, you are more likely to do something because it will lead to something else. The purpose of cognitive decision-making is to elevate yourself from position A to position B.

 Intentional thought is a very powerful force that requires deliberate conscious consideration to initiate change. You can survive based on your animal instincts or operate on auto-pilot by relying on your learned or unconscious habits and innate tendencies. In order to thrive (not merely survive) you must consciously and cognitively develop and implement productive auto-pilot processes. Sometimes you have to be awakened consciously before you can realize you are surviving rather than thriving.

Living Intentionally: Step Two-What is Not Working?

One trait unsuccessful people have in common is they have plenty of excuses for failure. Reasons for failure include air-tight alibis to excuse a lack of success. Some of the excuses include the following:

 If only I had a good education

 If only I had a better job

 If only I made more money

 If only I were younger

 If only I had more time

What are your excuses? If only ____________________

Sadly, the "if onlys" are only excuses. People strongly defend excuses because they created them. Creating excuses is not only a common trait among low achievers, it is a deeply rooted habit.

What did not work in the past will not work in the future. When you make the pivotal decision to change your life, you will need all of the resources at your disposal. The road to change is hard and will take longer than predicted. Beware when the journey seems to be hardest, you will be tempted to fall back into old habits of excuses and blame. Remind yourself that defense mechanisms did not work in the past and will not work in the future. Knowing the signs indicating you have fallen back into default mode (defense mechanisms) will help prompt you to activate some of your resources (strength, courage, and patience). In order to begin your life of looking forward, you have to put to rest the worries of who caused your adversity or who is to blame for not fixing your adversity. You will need all the reserves of precious power and momentum for your personal breakthrough.

Step One: Discover Your Purpose

Step One: Discover Your Purpose

This process will provide distinct direction, identify short-term and long-term goals, and will be a great evaluation instrument for accountability. Your purpose statement will contribute meaning and significance to everything you do.  It simplifies all decision making because all choices are based on your purpose.

The bridge between what you want to do and taking action is having a definite purpose. The purpose you write should evoke passion for living the life you were meant to live. Your purpose statement should connect with the passion that provides a compelling reason to live a higher life. You can only make a difference in the decisions you make, goals you set, and your achievements when you apply your purpose statement to everything you do.

The following guidelines will help you complete the first step; create a written purpose statement?

1. Think of a quote, or verse from a song or poem that inspires you. Think of a phrase or saying you use to get you through a situation. Use this guiding principle as an anchor. Examples: with God all things are possible; what does not kill you makes you stronger; and give back to the community.

2. Think of all the different roles you play in life, where and how you spend most of your time, and what interests occupy your thoughts.

Roles I play . . .

I spend my time . . .

My interests include . . .

3. Write down interests that are common throughout all major areas of your life. Examples: time spent helping others, teaching, and learning.

 From the list of interests, sort out the gifts and talents you have been blessed with. These are the strengths you will need to fulfill your purpose. These gifts will help you sustain and maintain your pursuit of a purposeful living. Examples: teaching, inspiring, leading.

4. Who do you look up to and admire, such as role models and mentors? Who do you hang around? You are an average of the five people you hang around most. Do you live vicariously through certain people and stand in awe of their achievements? It is okay to look up to mentors you admire to help you discover the truths of life that have already stood the test of time. What qualities do they possess that you admire most?

5. Write down your strongest character traits-some may be the same or similar to your gifts listed in Step 3 or qualities of others listed in Step 4. The characteristics on this list must be those you already possess; they need to be identified as useful tools in achieving a purposeful life.

Strongest character traits . .

6. Make a three part outline to give your statement clarity.

7. Write a rough draft and polish. If you draw a blank, begin with writing your mission statement with “I believe . . . . 

8. Ask a few friends or family members to review and offer feedback. Ask what they liked best and if it was true to who you are.

9. Make any necessary revisions for the final copy.

10.  Post the purpose statement in a place you will read it regularly. The best recommendation is to memorize it and you can recite it to serve as a constant reminder to live life purposefully.

Living Intentionally: A Six-step Transformation

Step One: Discover Your Purpose

You will be surprised to find the answers you seek to life’s questions are found in your own mind through studying, searching, and pondering and revealed in the form of a plan, idea, or inspiration.

At first your purpose may be hard to express or articulate in thought or in writing. The first step in identifying your purpose is to create a written purpose statement that will help sort out your priorities in life. Before you tackle your purpose statement, answer the following questions tohelp you begin to think about your purpose:

What do you think about most often?

What occupies your time?

Why do you get up in the morning?

What do you desire more than anything? 

Now that you have begun to think, complete the following exercise:

Next, make a list what you want to accomplish in your life (personally, spiritually, and professionally):






Ponder your answers and  the next post I will guide you through writing your own Purpose Statement.


What do you desire as much as you need air?

Socrates was a famous teacher and students came to be taught by him. One young man came to Socrates and said, “I have come sixteen hundred miles to talk to you about wisdom and learning. You are a man of wisdom and learning, and I would like to be a man of wisdom and learning. Would you teach me the purpose of life?” Socrates told the young man to meet him at the seashore. The young man eagerly obeyed. Socrates did not stop on the shore but walked into the water until he was waist deep. The young student followed Socrates into the water. Socrates then took the young man by the neck and submerged his head under water and held it there. The student did not resist as he believed Socrates must be trying to teach him a lesson.  After a few seconds it was evident Socrates was not going to release his head so he could come up out of the water. The young scholar fought to free himself but was not successful. Finally, he collapsed. At that moment Socrates carried the student out of the water and left him on the shore. When the young man recovered, he was confused about what had just happened.  He returned to the marketplace to pursue Socrates to inquire about this unusual experience. In response, Socrates asked, “When your head was under the water, what was the one thing you wanted more than anything else?” The young man answered, “More than anything else I wanted air.” Socrates countered, “When you want wisdom and learning like you wanted air, you will not need to ask anybody to give it to you.”

Hindsight will reveal you are where the young scholar was at the point in his life when he sought wisdom as desperately as air. Your revelation may not be as dramatic as that of Socrates’ student, but you will just suddenly know you have transcended your breakthrough. A more realistic question may resemble, “When your back was up against the wall, what was one thing you wanted more than anything?” or “If you had just one wish granted, what do you desire as much as you need air?” 

The answers are in your questions

If the answers are in your questions, then how do you know if you are asking the right questions?

Consistently asking the same question is a sign you are not ready to take decisive action or you do not like the answer. Think of a question you consistently ask.

 I continue to ask  . . . .

If persistent questioning does not result in answers, the answer is probably no. If the answers received are not satisfying, then perhaps the wrong question has been posed. How do you know if you are asking the right questions? 

The question I should be asking is . . . . . .

Asking the right questions takes practice so practice framing your questions using answers. For example:

Will pursuing ____ help me fulfill my dream of  ____?

Relevant questions should focus on values, relationships, and deeper spiritual and philosophical meaning. If life is just not working for you lately, then maybe what you are doing is not what matters most. The key is to balance what works in your life with what matters most. Take caution and ask the right questions to help discern that just because something works does not necessarily mean it matters. You are asking the right question when the answer requires you to participate in your experience instead of being a spectator. Either way, ask “does it matter?”

Below are some thought provoking questions to practice asking yourself (or start by asking them others):

What do you think about most often?

What occupies your thoughts and time?

Why do you get up in the morning?

What are you willing to do to get what you really want?

What do you desire more than anything?  

At what point in your life did you feel invincible, full of energy, focused, and determined?

What are you passionate about that creates a "fire in your belly"?

If you only had one year left to live, what would be the greatest gift you would give?

If you were guaranteed that anything you did would be successful, what would you do?

If the response to any of the questions is “I don't know,” then follow up with, “Well, if I DID know, then what would the answer be?” Force yourself to answer with the first thing that comes to mind. I don't know is not an allowable response in this exercise.

In summary, if you want better answers, you need to ask better questions.The following are some of my favorite questions I ask myself:

What one great wish would you dare dream to dream if you knew you could not fail?

If you had complete certainty you would succeed, what actions would you take to pursue your dream?

What obstacles prevent you from achieving you dreams right now?

If you received what you asked for, what would you receive? 

Are you ready for it right now?

Do you suffer from analysis paralysis?

If your answer is yes, then you may be plagued with the dreaded disease-perfectionism. Perfectionism is just another mask for fear of not being good enough.  Insecure people fear only the perfect will prevail. Although you know there is no such thing as a perfect person, it does not stop you from pursuing perfection. Paradoxically, your own pursuit of perfection is realized by lessons learned from your mistakes. If you suffer from perfectionism, you do not have a problem quitting, as you usually do not start anything because it is never the perfect time to start. Perfectionists do not accomplish as much as they could in life because they suffer from analysis paralysis; paralyzed by fear of failure. A compulsive need to do everything perfect results in very little being attempted. The more perfectionists analyze the situation the more they become paralyzed with fear, hence the term analysis paralysis. Do not be held hostage by perfectionism.

Every Addict Has a Mother

Where did I go wrong?

What could I have done differently?

Learn to transcend adversity with clarity and purpose through the experience of a mother's transformational journey from tragedy to living intentionally.

A tragic story that triggered my transformation began on September 19, 2010. A very intimate and graphic illustration of my daughter Tiffany's addiction begins here.

My transformational journey arose from the ashes of personal tragedy and failure to live a life of clarity and intention.  I hope you never have a story like mine to compel you to change. Implement changes in your life proactively, not reactively. Make a vow to implement needed change starting right now-it will be the best decision you ever made. Keep in mind that as you embark on your new adventure, resistance and opposition will greet you with open arms. There will be struggles following your transformation and breakthrough, but following the six step transformational process will lay the foundation of clarity and intention to thrive in spite of chaos. Life is a balancing act between success and failure, happiness and sadness, balanced and unbalanced living. May the balance tip in your favor.


Living Intentionally: A Six Step Transformation

A transformation is the transition from your old self to your authentic self. Following the Six Step Transformation process will result in living with clarity and intention, thus motivating you to take responsibility for your life, stop blaming others, and making excuses for your present circumstances. 

Future blog entries will provide details about the Six Step Transformation process outlined below:

1. Discover your purpose

2. Identify what is not working

3. Elevate your consciousness

4. Be your own change agent

5. A call to action

6. Assess your progress

The steps to living with clarity that I share with you have changed my life. These steps are not new and have been learned and relearned throughout generations. I was fortunate to be at a place in my life that when I identified the steps that I knew to be true, I was ready to take action. Follow the six steps to unlock the great untapped reserves of potential which may be lying dormant. The steps are designed to empower you with the tools needed to find your purpose and live intentionally. The tools are only potential power and will become powerful when action is applied. The evidence of these six steps are in the results.