“So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.” – The Eagles, “Already Gone”
These days, we hear all around us that we are the sole architects of our lives, that where we are is a compilation of our decisions, and that circumstances are essentially excuses.
It’s true: we are where we are because of the sum of our decisions. But it’s more complicated than that, which is often not acknowledged.
People get upset when they hear they engineered their life a certain way and that’s why they have the (unwanted) situation they do. The harsh accusations that they made the decisions, they are at fault, they planned it this way, it’s what they wanted, and so on are never in short supply.
It hurts to hear because many people say their current state is not what they wanted at all. They never intended to have the sad situation they’re in. They didn’t plan it. In fact, they deliberately fought to avoid it.
“First rule of leadership: everything is your fault.” – A Bug’s Life (Tweet this!)
Whether we like it or not, or know it or not, we are the leaders of our own lives. It is critical that we come to know this at a young age.
Where people get in trouble is when they don’t realize this. They don’t realize they have the ultimate control. They are under some influence or past programing that makes them feel they are not the sole engineers of their destiny.
I should point out that I consider responsibility and fault to mean two different things. But there are those who wield them interchangeably, which prompted me to write this article.
Some people, particularly women and more often in previous decades (particularly before the unstoppable flood of knowledge on the Internet), who have been programed, intentionally or otherwise, to give in, step aside, or do things for the sake of the greater good (or as it appears at the time). Translation: something that appears to be solely for them (i.e., their choice of education and type of career versus what is deemed practical in the eye of the beholder) is determined to be selfish and potentially poses too great a risk to the collective. Sadly, time shows us that the opposite is often true–a person’s success, when she experiences it based on choices that were right for her, brings necessary things, such as income, to the collective, typically family.
The factor that greatly aggravates this tendency to step aside and give up one’s own plans is if the person doesn’t have adequate income status and ends up at the physical and psychological mercy of others, who skew the decisions in a direction not necessarily beneficial to that person. Thus, the decisions the person makes at a given time with the information and conditions that are available are not the decisions they would have liked to make, but believe those are the only decisions they can make, or that overall it will get them and their families into a better situation.
I call this “not making decisions in a vacuum.” Decisions we make can depend on who our lives are connected to at the time and what their circumstances are, as well as our own knowledge, experience, interpretation of the situation, and the opportunities currently available. Which means that decisions about what we truly want can be easily interpreted as frivolous, selfish, or even uninformed. Worse, what we truly want can become, in and of itself, completely obscured until we can no longer identify it.
It is important to note that it is easy to derail people with the use of guilt, dismissal, or logic. Requests for proof may not be possible to meet in advance, so the idea, potentially a good one, dies. Yet it is now acknowledged that most successful people couldn’t see exactly how they were going to get to where they wanted to go. They saw only their starting point and their end point. They believed that the path would become unveiled as they went along, which is exactly what happened.
In the last ten years or so, the knowledge, advice, and quotations of successful and wealthy people have grown in visibility and prominence and, ironically, they all centre around the same themes:
- Don’t let others define what’s right for you.
- Trust yourself. Believe in yourself.
- Ideas, dreams, desires, and visions combined with passion lead to goals and actions. It’s how successful people became successful.
- You need a desire and an endpoint. A way and a means will be found along the way, but if you never begin, you will never find them.
- Success requires some form of risk and, usually, the greater the success, the greater was the risk.
- Mistakes and failures aren’t the end. Successful people failed many times before they succeeded. But the ultimate success made the failures well worth it.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn (1930-2009), Author and Speaker
When a person’s sacrifice backfires and, worse, he or she is blamed for the poor way in which things worked out, that person becomes disillusioned, bitter, angry, and full of regret. The person begins to recognize that if he or she had stuck to instincts, even if things did not work out perfectly, that person, as well as the collective, would have undoubtedly fared better.
As painful as this discovery is, it is a reconnection with one’s self. Now it has been affirmed and shown that a person must trust him- or herself and go with what is right for them and not others.
A dynamic shift usually occurs at this time. There may be, or have already been, significant life changes, such as taking on a new career path, education, or the restructuring or ending of a marriage.
If a person is to be blamed, then at least let the blame fall where it is justified. At least let it be on something the person chose to do of his or her own accord, and not something he felt compelled to do because of circumstances around him.
This may seem outrageous to some of the younger people. I’m not certain to what extent this still occurs today. But it was quite common for those growing up in the 1980s, and applies to the earlier decades as well.
If those dates are too old to bother with, think again. The people who embarked on their young adult lives in the 1980s and ’90s are with us today, still in the career and/or family stages of their lives, and they are the ones effecting big changes in themselves and the things they intend to still accomplish in their lives.
They have come to terms with the fact that
“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat” – Napoleon Hill
and taken comfort in
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending” – attributed to Carl Bard
as well as
“It is never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot
“The greatest dreams are always unrealistic.” – Will Smith (Tweet this!)
© 2012 Eva Blaskovic. All rights reserved.