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[ Staff Picks ] [ Opinion ]

These Principles Will Help Guide An Intentional Life

By Jonathan Hinshaw

As I sit down to write this article, I wonder to myself — how many things have I just let happen to me over the years? How many years did I waste waiting, hoping, dreaming of a better life?

Maybe you’re in the same boat. Most of us live our lives in a reactive manner, never being proactive or intentional about where we’re actually going and where we want to be.

We make decisions based on outside influences like money or time, neither of which have our best interest in mind, and both of which are only tools. In fact, we give more power to money over our decisions than our actual decision making ability.

Ten years ago I entered into a rehab facility of my own accord. It was my decision. I couldn’t afford it. And I certainly didn’t have time for it. But, I needed it. It was time for me to get clean and step into the life I’d always wanted.

I had a family, mortgage, bills, etc. But, I was sick of letting life happen to me and then blaming the outcomes on anything and everything but me and my choices. So, I took control and got ready to live a life of intention.

Here’s what I learned…

The dream is free, the journey is not. The journey is on a toll road and you soon find out that you’ll pay more than you ever thought, sooner than you thought in order to achieve your dream. And it’s worth every penny!

What are you certain about?

I’m coming up on forty next year and I find that the older I get, the less certain or sure I become about the things I thought I knew. On the other hand, I also find myself becoming even more certain about the things that I am certain about.

Sound like a double statement? It’s not, let me explain…

The older I get, the more grounded I become in the principles that guide my life. These principles are based on beliefs that I am 100%, unconditionally, absolutely certain of. These guiding principles are spiritual and physical in nature. In fact, if you ask me ,  there’s really no difference.

The five principles I’m about to share with you are the foundation of living a life of intention. No matter where you are today, no matter what your background or lack there of — these principles will work.

First, let’s line them up and go over each one individually.

1. The Taxi Principle

Always find out the cost before you get in.

If you’ve traveled at all then you know that you should never get into a cab and just let the meter run. Always find out what the fair is going to be, or could be. If you get in, that cab could clean out your wallet. Living a life of intention requires us to ask questions, gather information and then make educated decisions.

In my addiction days, I always saw things through a lens — my “addict” lens. I bought the lie hook, line and sinker. I’d see others loosing everything they cared about and I’d tell myself “That‘ll never be me. I can handle it.”

The truth was, I couldn’t’ handle it any better than any other human on earth. Time is irrelevant when you’re addict. Sooner or later, addiction takes everything you care about and destroys it.

2. The Carpenter Principle

Measure twice. Cut once.

Planning is critical to any successful venture. Whether your creating a company or launching a new product or starting a personal fitness routine. The more you plan, the more solid the outcome.

This may seem simple enough, but take a quick trip through any social media channel today and you’ll see a bunch of people shotgunning their way through life. Never measuring anything — just cut, cut, cut. Never thinking about what it might cost. Life just seems to happen to these poor souls. Nothing works out, all is grim. Personally, I don’t want to be in that camp.

Measure your choices every day. Measure, plan, think about what your doing before you commit. And when you cut… cut once and commit.

3. The Storm Cellar Principle

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

My wife’s family is from the south and everyone in their part of the country has a storm cellar. It’s not something they talk about everyday, but it’s there just in case. Everyone hopes and expects things will be ok, as we all should. But just in case a storm hits, they are prepared.

It’s critical to have a plan ready for if / when things don’t work out. This isn’t a negative view, this is reality. When things go perfectly, it’s a celebration, an amazing time. But, how often do things go perfectly? It’s a rarity. Rather than being a victim, be the hero of your own life and make a plan for the “what-if” situations. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but having a partial plan is better than no plan.

When crisis hits — we don’t think straight. We make bad decisions based on emotions and/or adrenaline. So, the key to not becoming a victim in life (and business)is to plan for the worst case scenario.

You don’t have to think about it everyday, just have it ready. Once it’s there, it’s there and you’ll not have to worry about it.

4. The Forgiveness Principle

Forgive everyone, for everything.

We carry so much baggage around with us when we harbor un-forgiveness towards another person. It’s a heavy load and it’s not doing you any favors.

I’m not saying to just give everyone pass, there are times to stand up for what’s right. But, we don’t have to hold onto the hurt and pain caused by others. Trust me, the sooner you let it go, the sooner you can live a life of intention and start realizing your dreams.

Un-forgiveness robes you of your ability to think clearly about situations. If you start making decisions based on people and personalities, you’ll become a hermit in no time! People are stupid. I get it. However, holding grudges and un-forgiveness only hurts you.

5. The Attitude Principle

Your attitude is your responsibility.

Have you ever said, “Oh, they are making me so angry!”? I have, and we all have. However, that statement is not true at all. No one on this earth has a trump card over our emotions, and they are ours and ours alone to handle and deal with. In fact, most anger type emotions are learned and can be un-learned.

I know that you’re thinking: “But, what about love? That’s an emotion and I have no control over it.” Wrong.

Love is a decision, lust is an emotion.

When you truly love someone, you love them even when they have become unlovable. So you in fact do have control over who you love.

I think I’ll let that sit for now. Love is whole different subject and would require its own series on love, marriage, vows, parenting, commitment, etc. So, there you have it. These are the five principles that guide an intentional life, at least for me they do. What do you think? Do you have a principle that guides your life that you’d like to share with us? Please put it into the comments below.