An intention is what we want. Methods are the ways of getting it. An intention is our heart's desire. Methods are the actions, information, things, and behaviors we use to get it.
The intention may be "Go to Chicago." The method might be car, train, walking, flying, roller skating, pogo sticking, etc. For each intention, there are many methods.
Unlike our purpose, which is discovered, an intention is chosen . If our purpose is west, our intention (goal) can be any destination west of wherever we happen to be. The choice of that destination is ours.
When you ask some people why they're not living their dream, they usually respond with a listing of unavailable methods: not enough money, looks, information, contacts, breaks, and so on. All these are just methods. Excuses of not having them may sound rational, but are, in reality, rational lies. Most people let their methods decide their intentions. This is a fundamental mistake. Those who look at what they already have before selecting what they want are involved in making do, not doing.
The reason many people feel bored and unfulfilled is that they spend their lives shuffling and reshuffling the methods they already have. This can be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic --no matter how well it's done, the result is the same. As someone said, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."
When choosing a dream, look to your heart, not to your "reality." That's why it's called a dream. Make that dream your intention. Commit to it. Act upon that commitment. The methods to fulfill that dream will appear. An intention might be a method to achieve a greater intention, and that greater intention might be a method for obtaining a greater intention still. For example, a taxi might be the method to get to the airport, the airport being the intention. The airport might be the method of getting to Chicago, a larger intention. Chicago might be a method of traveling west, which is a larger intention still, all of which fits within the purpose, "I am joyfully traveling west."
We can add new methods to our lives regardless of age, circumstances, situation, or anything else. All it requires is a willingness to learn. And learning methods that can radically improve our lives doesn't necessarily take a lot of time.
Imagine the difference between a newborn infant and a two-year-old. An infant cannot walk, talk, coordinate its body, control its bowels, eat solid food, understand language, or see very well. By two, the child is well on the way to mastering all these. That's how much learning a human can do in two years.
That same transformational amount of learning can take place in any similar period of time. In fact, adults can learn even faster. All it takes is commitment and willingness.
I'll discuss the techniques of commitment and willingness later. For now, feel free to choose a goal that seems "impossible." Possible and impossible are simply terms to describe how many methods one has available that already fit the goal. In fact, why not choose for yourself the intention to create a perfect intention?
Meanwhile, here is some Good Advice:
Never eat anything whose listed ingredients cover more than one-third the package.--Joseph Leonard
Have a place for everything and keep the thing somewhere else; this is not a piece of advice, it is merely a custom.--Mark Twain
Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.--Benjamin Franklin
People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.-- David H. Comins
Let your intentions create your methods and not the other way around.--The author-- although Benjamin Franklin said it first
Follow your bliss.--Joseph Campbell
After ecstasy, the laundry.--Zen statement
(For more advice, please read Jon Winokur's book Good Advice . Lots of fun.)
Let's be clear about this--any time I refer to "wants" in this book, I mean wants, not needs.
Our needs are already fulfilled, and have been fulfilled--consistently--from the time we were born, until this very moment. I can make this seemingly bold statement, and include you in it, because, if it weren't true, you wouldn't be reading this book. In fact, you wouldn't be here at all. When human needs are not fulfilled, death occurs. Period.
Needs are food, shelter, clothing, air, water, and protection. (Even this may be a long list: "shelter," "clothing," and "protection" cover pretty much the same ground--keeping the elements and the elephants at bay.) Everything else we think we need is a want.
The rule of thumb: if you can live without it for even a short period of time, it's a want. I didn't say happily live without it, or comfortably live without it--just live without it, as in exist.
"Not love?" some might protest. Whoever or whatever is providing you with food, clothing, shelter, air, water, and protection loves you beyond measure. Romantic love ("I love you. Sigh." "I love you, too. Sigh.") is all very nice--but it's a want, not a need.
We get into trouble when we call a want a need--it begins to corrupt our integrity. When we say we need something, the body goes into red alert. Need? That's like food, water, air! The body--the whole being, in fact--uses all its resources to meet the need right away. After too many false alarms, it becomes the story of the little boy who cried "Wolf!" once too often. Eventually, the body ignores our urgent pleas of "I need!"
Meanwhile, a part of us is patiently waiting to help us fulfill our wants. The simple statement, "I want . . .," committed to and acted upon, can move mountains. When we call our wants "needs," however, a part of us says, "Okay, let's just see how much you really need this."
As a poet once put it, "My needs destroy the paths by which those needs could be fulfilled."
Yes, we do need, but those needs are entirely physical. Emotionally, we are whole and complete just as we are (although we may not yet realize that fully).
Saying we need something outside ourselves in order to have a positive feeling within (joy, happiness, love) implies that we are somehow lacking. This is simply not the case. In this sense, saying "I need . . ." is an affirmation of personal deficiency--even if it is followed by very nice words.
Take, for example, "I need to give my love to others." The giving of one's love to others is all very nice, but the inherent lack in the "I need . . ." part of the sentence pollutes the whole thing. "I want to give my love to others" is less desperate and somehow nicer.
It's fine to want something a whole lot. That's part of manifesting your dream. Passion. The next section of this book, in fact, is about becoming more passionate about our dream. When we start calling a want a need, however, we step over the line from being passionate to being impoverished.
What we need is always supplied to us, and always will be, until the day we die. Let us be grateful for that. And let's pursue our wants and desires from this platform of fulfillment and gratitude.
Yes, I'm going to coin a word here. (What would a self-help book be without a coined word or two?) The word I'm going to coin is selfing.
Selfing means doing for one's Self, in the larger sense of Self, as in True Self, or "To thine own self be true." It means fulfilling our inherent dreams, goals, and aspirations. It means living our life "on purpose."
Selfish, on the other hand, describes the petty, endlessly greedy gathering of stuff (houses, cars, boats, clothes), stuff (husbands, wives, children, lovers), and more stuff (power, fame, money, sex). It's the relentless pursuit of glamour at all costs. It's worshiping the god of other people's opinion.
Selfing is knowing what you want--what you want, not what you should want because others say you should want it--and moving toward it. Others may call you selfish, but you know that you are selfing--"being yourself."
As Ralph Waldo Trine explained,
There are many who are living far below their possibilities because they are continually handing over their individualities to others. Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself. Be true to the highest within your soul and then allow yourself to be governed by no customs or conventionalities or arbitrary man-made rules that are not founded on principle.
Those who do fulfill their dreams naturally share that fulfillment with all those around them. Inviting others to enjoy the advantages of one's goal is inherent in the process of realizing a dream; it's an organic part of the process.
Someone studying to be a doctor may spend all her time, energy, and resources on learning. For several years, she may appear to others as "selfish." She will, however, spend the remainder of her life applying what she has learned during this "selfish" period to benefit others. Was it truly selfish after all?
George Bernard Shaw explained the difference between selfing and selfish when he wrote,
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
Shaw's first use of "self" ("a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one") would be the large Self; his second use ("a feverish selfish little clod") would be the petty self. In moving toward your goal, it may be necessary to use all your available resources toward the fulfillment of that goal. That's to be expected, and that's selfing. Others (especially people who are now receiving less of your resources) may call you selfish. The question is, "What's more important--your goal, or others' opinions of your goal and you?"
It's amazing how many people--through their actions--answer "others' opinions."
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
Here it is, the chapter that was foretold to you many times. The phrase "you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want" sums up this whole section of the book.
You can have anything you want: No dream is too big to achieve. If one other person has achieved it, you can be the second. If no other person has achieved it, you can be the first. Dream big, dear reader, dream big.
But you can't have everything you want: We live in a finite world for a finite period of time, but with an infinite imagination. Our imagination can create more wants than a computer can generate random numbers. We're not going to have time for all the wants we want.
There are those who say, "I want it all!" I wonder, if they ever got it all, where they would put it. When would they find the time to use it all, or even the time to learn how to use it all? One begins to get images from Citizen Kane --warehouse after warehouse stuffed with treasures, purchased but never uncrated.
In fact, we can't "have it all"--there's simply not enough time. To make "having it all" a goal is not realistic. Long before we get "it all" we run out of time, energy, and resources. Maybe that's why people who "want it all" often look so tired.
More often, however, I encounter people who don't want enough. Oh, they may want enough in the sense of a little here and a little there and all the littles add up to "enough." Unfortunately, many of those littles aren't what the people really want-- they only think they should want them because somebody once said they should. If these people had their heart's desire--the Big Want--they would gladly "sacrifice" most of the little littles.
We have only so much time and so much energy and so many resources, and we're going to spend them on something. The tragedy in most people's lives is that they spend their time, energy, and resources doing something other than their heart's desire.
We are, of course, never given more time. We all have twenty-four hours each day. We're going to spend that time doing something. Why not spend it pursuing our dreams?
When we have too many goals ("I want to visit Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Denver, all in one day"), or goals that conflict (try starting from Kansas and going to New York and Los Angeles simultaneously), we run up against "you can't have everything you want."
Yes, we are worthy of visiting any of those cities, but not all of them at once. Most people, however, rather than choosing one, just give up and stay in Kansas. "I can't have anything I want," they sigh.
They can have anything they want, but they can't have everything they want. There is more to life than Kansas. The key is choosing what we want most (our heart's desire), letting go of everything else we want (for now), and moving (mentally, emotionally, and physically) toward our goal.
The choosing, letting go, and moving is what we're going to look at next. It is, in fact, the essence of how to DO IT!
Copyright © 1991-1996 Prelude Press & Peter McWilliams