Before we dive into 4 Key Principles for taking charge of your life - a loving reminder.
What I will share with you is totally useless... unless you apply it.
Information alone is useless. Unless applied.
A little about why I've chosen to share these principles.
As a self-proclaimed self-developmentnut, I'm fascinated to seek the answers to these questions...
Why is it some people change, and others stay stuck?
Why is it some of us feel incharge of our lives and some of us feel helpless?
Based on my experience as a Coach and having got myself out of my very sticky situation in my early 20s - the way I see it - there are certain principles that when adopted, give us a better chance of successfully taking charge of our lives and becoming unstuck.
I know this list of principles could be much longer.
There are heaps of helpful qualities and principles that can be applied to aid with feeling in control of our life.
In my eyes, these are 4 of 4the most important principles for how to take charge of our lives.
Principle #1 Responsibility
No matterhow much I protest, I am 100% responsible for what happens to me in my life.
- Dr Wayne Dyer
What Responsibility really means
Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
No matter how much I protest, I am 100% responsible for what happens to me in my life.
- Dr Wayne Dyer
Personally, I agree.
Without a shadow of a doubt, we are all 100% responsible for what happens to us in our lives.
There is a chance you’re thinking, “This is absurd, Will, how can we be 100% responsible for what happens to us in our lives? That means being responsible for everything, even all the terrible stuff that happens to us.
What about trauma victims?
What about the people in the world who lose their homes to natural disasters?
What of those suffering from cancer?”
Now, if this sounds something like your train of thought, bear with me. I hear you, I really do.
Allow me to share with you my truth. Stepping into this new perspective just might change your world. Part of you may feel daunted, but part of you, I can almost guarantee,will feel liberated.
I first heard this statement about responsibility in 2016, during one of Dr Dyer’s guided meditations on YouTube.
I had really gotten into this particular guided meditation. It was an Ahhh meditation, requiring me to—you guessed it—Ahhh along out loud with Dr Dyer, and project this ancient sound out into the world.
There I sat each morning, alone on the cool and smooth tiles of my living room floor, Ahhh-ing away.
”Wow, I’m so spiritual, right now,” I would think to myself, just before thinking, ”That’s not a very spiritual way of thinking, is it?”
Anyway, after about 10 minutes, Dr Dyer would introduce the second part of the guided meditation. In his distinctively deep voice, he would say, ‘’We will now consider the affirmations of the day.”
His affirmations resonated with me:
I know in each moment I am free to decide, and mypast is nothing more than the trail I have left behind.
What drives my life today is the energy Igenerate in each of my present moments.
Naturally, my mind would commentate ‘’Nice, so true, we are free to decide—and wow, you’re onfire, Wayne, the past is nothing more than the trail I’ve left behind.”
All of my mind’s commentary sounded like this, positive and in agreement. Well, almost all.
One affirmation just never sat right with me, and you may have guessed which affirmation this was:
No matter how much I protest, I am totally responsible for what happens to me in my life.
’’Bullshit!” my mind would scream in protest.
”The other affirmations—faultless, Wayne, good job. I’m with you, mate. But this one…I’mnot buying.”
My attention now was torn away from the guided meditation, I would sit, embarrassed, as if a potty-mouthed friend had just barged in on my ultra-spiritual moment.
”Man, I was doing so well up until that point,” I sulked.
Try as I might, everytime I heard this affirmation, my reaction was the same. I just couldn’t appreciate it—as far as I was concerned, it was wrong. It was as wrong as if Dr Dyer had been pointing at a white wall and telling me it was black.
Then, one day, the penny dropped.
I was listening to a podcast, and somebody was speaking about responsibility, they said this simple sentence:
“Responsibility literally means ‘the ability to respond.”
The cogs in my mind began to turn…
Hang on a minute, so what Dr Dyer is really saying is this: no matter how much I protest, I am totally able to respond to what happens to mein my life.
Boom. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I got it, finally.
This felt so different from my original train of thought.
The problem with the word responsibility is that it has become synonymous with the word blame.
“Who is responsible?”has evolved to “Who is to blame?” or “Whose fault is this?”
It was fascinatingfor me to observe the difference, emotionally, between viewing responsibilityin these two lights.
When I viewed responsibility as being about blame, a strange cocktail of emotions came up: shame, shock, helplessness. I felt like a victim. However, now that I view responsibility as our ability to respond, well, I feel empowered, able, liberated. I feel like a victor, an owner of my fate.
Because isn’t it true, no matter what life throws at us, that we are able to respond on some level?
We are able to respond by choosing what meaning we give to events—is this a problem or an opportunity?
We are able to respond by deciding what actions we will take as a result of what happens to us—will I take on the role of a victim and do nothing, or will I take action and exercise my ability to respond?
You see, we totally have a choice. Not in what happens to us, but in how we use our ability to respond to what happens. In other words, we choose how responsible we want to be.
There are countlessstories of humans in the most horrific of situations (Viktor Frankl, for example) who never forget their ability, or I would say power, to respond. No matter what life takes away from us, it will never take away our ability to respond.
Since the penny of understanding responsibility dropped, for me, life has been different. Now, when I’m faced with a challenge or an undesired situation, the first step I take is to remind myself that I am responsible for this.
I am responsible because this is the reality I have been served.
Whether I asked for it or not,whether it was my fault or not, even whether I like it or not, this is my experience at this moment, and I feel powerful when I recognize my power to respond.
This Eckhart Tolle quote serves as a great reminder, as well:” Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
Whatever happens to us between now and the rest of our lives, we are responsible.
Let's never forget the huge power we hold in our ability to respond.
- On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being a high score), how responsible are you for your life right now (how well are you exercising your ability to respond)?
- With a new understanding of the word responsible, how does this change things for you?
Principle #2 Acceptance
When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.
― Byron Katie
Imagine this scenario.
You have an important flight to catch in a few hours, you've invested several thousands of pounds in a week-long business retreat. You've booked a bus-transfer weeks in advance, as you leave the house you feel organized and excited for your trip away.
When you arrive at the bus stop, you stand alone with your luggage.
Glancing around, you feel surprised, you're the only soul waiting for the Bus...
10 minutes pass.
You're still alone and have the feeling something isn't right. It's partly the fact you seem to be the only person waiting at the bus stop, partly just a feeling you have.
You decide to pull out your bus ticket to double check the details. You read.
Your eyes grow wide in horror as your heart begins to sink into your stomach and a lump spawns inyour throat. You realize the bus departed 90 minutes ago.
You've misread the arrival time at the airport and the departure time from the bus stop.
This was the last bus leaving for the airport this morning. Your heart beats faster and it feels like the blood surging in your veins has turned to ice.
''Rookie mistake'', you think to yourself.
You walk over to the taxi rank, your only remaining option. An older lady wearing dark sunglasses winds down the window and you ask if she is free to drive you to the airport. She can, but it's not going to be cheap, your mistake is going to cost you dearly...
How would you be feeling at this point?
What thoughts would be going around your head?
This scenario was mine in October 2016.
A few days before this kerfuffle at the bus stop, I stumbled across the quote by Eckhart Tolle about accepting and working with reality and thought to myself, what an exciting and curious way of living it offers.
To simply accept what is. Not resisting, nor fighting the present moment.
How strange that only a few days later, the Universe would gift me with a perfect opportunity to test out this way of living. The Universe said ''here you go, Will''.
Let me be straight, my automatic response was a blend of anger, frustration and a pinch of panic. I wanted to play the blame game. I wanted to blame myself for being so stupid as to misread the timings. ''You moron, a 4-year old can read better than you'', the voice in my head howled.
Alternatively, instead of beating myself up, I could choose to pass the buck and begin to blame the bus company for not making it clearer on the ticket. I could stew in my own soup of victimhood. (This always feels a bit better than mentally beating myself up).
These seem to be the2 popular ways to deal with unwanted situations:
1. We blame ourselves for the situation by giving ourselves a hard time.
2. We blame somethingoutside of ourselves and give them a hard time.
But there is a third option. The road less travelled. One that doesn't involve any blaming and shaming.
Simply accepting the present moment as it is and using our ability to respond.
Back to my story. I took a deep breath and I asked myself, how would I like to react?
What would acceptance look like? I'll be honest, I wanted to throw my toys out the pram, dive into the off-license for a pack of cigarettes and sulk, but another part of me was curious, I wondered if this whole acceptance thing was really possible. Because if you're anything like me, I often read an Idea and think to myself 'Yeah, great, that'll never work for me'. Which is funny because by believing this, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and it won't work because we don't give it an opportunity to.
Back at the bus stop, with a smile on my face, I smiled at the old lady taxi driver as I said Yes to her offer of driving me to the airport. I went to fetch the money from a nearby cash machine. It felt peculiar but at the same time, not forced. I genuinely felt at peace. My heartbeat was returning to normal, there was little tension in my body and much to my surprise, I wasn't in a bad mood either.
The taxi journey was, surprisingly pleasant. It took about 50 minutes to the airport through the beautiful winding roads of the German countryside over rolling hills and passing towering green forest. Inside the taxi, the old woman and I chatted like old friends the entire way as we learned about each other's lives, I thought I'd use the opportunity to practice my German. I got out the car and bid my new friend farewell. As she drove off, leaving me standing at the arrivals terminal, I felt calm and refreshed. The rest of the trip went smoothly, despite the unexpected start.
Now I'm not sharing this to pretend I'm some sort of Enlightened Guru (you know the type I mean).
I'm sharing this story to show you we always have a choice.
With awareness, we can choose to accept our reality, even in difficult, unpleasant and unwanted situations. I’ve continued to train myself to simply accept situations as they are and it’s getting easier. When I’ve been ill, rather than resist and beat myself, through acceptance I’ve managed to respond kindly.
When personal mistakes or the mistakes of others have cost me time or money, I’ve accepted before responding as best I can.
For me, acceptance isn't about labelling what is good or bad, which the mind loves to do, right?
This is good = I will feel good
This is crap = I will feel crap.
Acceptance is about playing with the cards that life has dealt you in each moment. It's entirely possible to be in a situation you haven't asked for and find undesirable and still accept it.
See for yourself, next time an unwanted situation pops up for you, see how you can control your reaction. Ask yourself the question, how would it look like if I were to respond in a way that serves me? Am I able to completely accept my current reality for what it is?
Something interesting happens when we respond to unwanted situations in a better way.
We show that often it's not the situation itself causing the stress and negativity, it's our judgment sand reaction to the situation. In other words, it's our 'This should not be happening to me' thinking that is causing the stress.
But if I simply go around accepting everything that happens, won't I become passive?
This is a great question that deserves a great answer. Nobody, I believe, can answer this question better than Byron Katie, author of a brilliant book titled Loving what is where she holds a similar philosophy of accepting our reality.
Her answer, I find brilliant.
''Surely it's better to accept reality as it is, than to fight and be in resistance with something that is a fact''.
Of course, we do have a choice. We can choose to blame, resist what is true, tell ourselves the story that things should be different, but how does it serve us? Acceptance for me is a bringer of Peace.
Accept and Trust Exercise
An exercise I like to do when I'm not feeling myself, a little down, lost or stressed, is to journal.
I grab my journal and pen and write our exactly how I'm feeling. At the top of the page, I create the heading ' I am feeling'... and fill the page with whatever comes up for me.
Once I feel I've captured how I'm feeling at that moment, at the bottom of the page I write the words ''I accept this is how I feel and trust this will pass''.
I believe the two most powerful words in any language are I am...
Because the words I am are defining.
This is why in this exercise, I write I am feeling instead of I am.
I am feeling... sends a different message to ourselves, it suggests there is a space between who we are and how we feel, which is absolutely true. We can never BE anxious or stressed, we can only experience the feelings of anxiety and stress.
We are the one experiencing the feelings, not the feelings themselves.
- Looking back over your life, what events do you need to accept have happened?
Principle # 3 Courage
Life is inherently risky.
There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.
- Denis Waitley.
The Last holiday
A movie I adore is called The Last Holiday staring Queen Latifah.
If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's a real feel-good watch with an important message...
Live whilst you're alive!
You see, the main character (played brilliantly by Queen Latifah) learns she is dying of an incurable brain tumour. Ouch. Rather than surrendering to her prognosis and waiting for her time to come, she shifts her life into fifth gear.
This woman finally quits the job she hates. She finally asks the man of her dreams out. She travels. Ok, I don't want to give too much of the movie plot away, but you get the picture! She lives!
Knowing her days were numbered, she connected with the courage inside of her and made things happen.
Allow me to throw a few questions at you, the reader.
What would you do ifyou found out you only had 1 year to live?
What impact would this knowledge have on your life?
How would you show up differently?
What would you prioritise? What would you let go of?
You need to know, I'm not asking this to make you fearful.
I'm asking you these questiosn because the thing is... there are only two ultimate truths in life.
Firstly, we're all going to die.
Secondly, nobody can predict exactly when our time is up.
And I happen to believe, being mindful of these two truths can connect us with the courage we have inside of us.
Nowadays when I'm feeling fearful, I'll tell myself something along the lines of ''Will, one day you're not going to be here mate and you won't have the opportunity. Life is short. Feel the fear, be courageous and do that scary thing right now boy!''
I can't tell you how many times I've given myself this talk during the process of writing this book because, you know, it's scary putting yourself and your words out there in theworld.
No matter what your situation is right now, it's going to require courage for you to get unstuck and take charge of your life. Because by the time you've finished reading this book, it's going to be time for action. And even though you may be feeling super motivated and confident change is possible, you're going to be entering the realm of the New.
New thoughts. New decisions. New Actions. New habits. New environments. New feelings.
Which is going to require courage, because New is scary for the mind.
There will be moments your Gremlin pops up to plague you with fear and doubt. But you have to simply notice it and let it be. Remember your thoughts and your stories are not the real you. You are the endless power and potential experiencing the thoughts and ultimately you are the leader of your life.
Courage Muscle and the Fear Compass
Courage is a lot like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets.
If you haven't flexed your courage muscle for a while, the thought of being courageous may be scary.
The trick to growing stronger courage muscles, like training any muscle, is repetition.
Behaving courageously every day. Doing what scares you. Speaking your truth. Setting boundaries.
Daring to go for what you want.
Begin to think of fear as a sign to move forward rather than move backwards.
Use Fear as a compass.
For a long time, I was terrified of doing a Facebook live. Imagining myself on live video in front of my family, friends, clients and followers was terrifying. I decided one day to commit to 7 days of Facebook lives in a row.
Day 1. Terrifying. Sweaty palms. Racing thoughts. Slurred speech. But I Gloria Gaynored... (I survived).
Day 7. Bearable.
Challenges like this are a brilliant way of growing our courage muscles.
- How might you create a challenge to grow your courage muscles?
- What scary decisions and actions have you been putting off?
- If you had limitless courage, what would you dare to ask for?
Principle # 4 Action
The time for action is now. It's never too late to do something.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The flaw with the law of Attraction
A book and movie that's done well over the last few years is The Secret.
If you haven't seen The Secret, I'll give you the general summary.
The Secret tells the stories of people who've used The Law of Attraction to achieve great success in life, business people, public speakers and authors who owe their success to 'the secret'.
The Law of Attraction is the idea that we attract in life what we think about. Simply put: Think negatively and negative things will happen, think positively and positive things will happen.
I'm not going to go into my personal thoughts about The Secret or the Law of Attraction. But what I will say is this...
The movie does not emphasise action enough.
I know of people who've seen the movie and tell themselves ''If I just think about what I want, if I just think positively, I'll get what I want.''
If this was true, we'd all be super fit, successful and happy, just by thinking about being fit, successful and happy.
Positive thinking can be useful but it's not enough.
We need to take action.
Creating a forest one seed at a time
There once was a man who lived in the Scottish Highlands.
He lived happily alone until he died of old age. He was a very active man, as each day he would have to walk a fair distance across the hills to the village where he worked.
Something special happened during this walk.
The man had a ritual.
For as long as he could remember, he planted a single seed.
Just one, tiny, seed, buried into the earth.
He did this everyday, without fail.
By the time the man passed away, the land on the hills had transformed beyond recognition.
The man had created an entire Forest...
This is one of my favourite short stories.
It reminds me I'm powerful. I'm powerful because like the man in the story, and like you, I always have the ability to take action. We all do!
Right now, if you wanted to, you could stop reading this and take action. I hope you don't though, keep reading. Let me tell you the 4 levels of action.
The 4 levels of Action
Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions- Grant Cardone.
A book I revisit time and time again is The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone.
I have the audiobook version because I like his enthusiastic energy and accent. Plus, as much as I adore reading a real-life book, I find audiobooks are easy to consume when on the go.
One of my biggest takeaways from The 10X Rule is the 4 levels of Action.
When I find my self feeling stuck in a rut, I ask myself what level of action I'm operation at.
It'llbe helpful for you too, to do the same.
Level 1: No Action.
Level 2: Retreating Action.
Taking little actionsbut still retreating from the big and important actions because of fear.
Level 3: Normallevels of action. Doing enough, taking average amounts of action.
Level 4: Massivelevels of Action.
Taking more action than needed.
My philosophy is this.
There's absolutely a time for rest, recovery and recreation.
My least favourite word is hustle. Nothing is cool about being burnt out and doing too much. But, and this is important but, there are times we need to take action, times we need to get out there and plant seeds, and lots of them.
The bottom line is this. To take charge of your life, action is required.
What a tick bite taught me about working smart
A few summers ago, I took a run in the Forest.
To cool off, I jumped in the shower and as I was lathering myself up, I soon realized I wasn't showering alone. Nestled deep within the top of my leg, an inch or two below my bum was a Deer tick.
Following its painful removal after a visit to the Emergency Doctor, I was prescribed a two-week course of antibiotics to prevent me from developing Lyme Disease.
The anti-biotics kicked my arse.
Within 20 minutes of taking my first round, I was in the deepest sleep.
I was a zombie for the next 3 weeks.
It was near impossible to concentrate, my eyes constantly felt heavy and my stomach was iffy.
I had about 3 and a half hours each day when I felt human.
I quickly became aware that if I was to keep progressing over the next 3 weeks, I would have to work smart and ensure I'm doing the most important tasks each day.
Each morning I was sat at my desk, journal in front of me, pen in hand, answering the following question.
What are the actions, that if I took them today, would progress me forward most towards my goals?
They were a tough 3weeks, but I got by because I worked smart.
Taking action is essential but that's not to say we have to become busy fools in the process of achieving our goals and taking charge of our life.
It's easy to get lost in all the possible actions we could take.
We live in a world of endless possibilities.
Focus on your most important actions and take them.
- What level of action are you currently operating at?
- Thinking of your Vision/Goals, what are the most important steps you need to take?
You have just read 4 of the 8 principles I share in my book Becoming Unstuck: your simple step by step guide to taking charge of your life.
Let me know what principles resonates MOST by leaving me a comment, I'd love to hear from you.
To discover the missing 4 principles, my book is available to buy on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format. A downloadable PDF version is also available.