“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
As a child and even as a young adult, and admittedly, during times of angst and frustration in my thirties, I would look to others and seek out similarities in them as a means to try and foretell my future. After all, if I could see someone else doing what I wanted to do, I could do it too. But the catch with this approach to finding inspiration is that we see the flip side as well and it limits our perspective.
Just as we observe someone we admire that exhibits what we believe to be similarities with ourselves, we can also see similarities that bring us doubt, exacerbate our worry and during our dark moments, lead us to believe we will follow that dreadful path as well. After all, if they did, so must we.
So while finding role models to push us and remind us we are capable of more, it is important to see we should not limit our potential based on how others have lived their lives. Instead, we must remember we hold the keys to life we wish to enjoy. We hold the fuel, the stamina, the wherewithal to carry us across the terrain that will lead us to the path we want to associated with our destiny when we are long gone.
I came across more than a few quotes that spoke to the idea of determining our own destiny, and I hand-picked a few to share with you today to exemplify exactly how each of us can carve out the life we see in our mind’s eye. The arrival and the minor details may not be aspects we can predict or have control over, but where we go, what we pursue, what we let go of, that is what we are in complete control of.
While yes, undoubtedly some people fall into a life of greatness momentarily; it is however, their choice to maintain the blessings that have been bestowed upon them. Someone born into wealth, Prince William for example. But someone like the Duchess of Cambridge, no she could not have controlled Cupid’s arrow, but she can control her behavior, her discipline, her taste, her inner strength which may or may not have been elements of attraction along the way. This is not to say any part of our destiny involving other people is something we can control; it is absolutely not. But what is in our control is how we engage with those we come into contact with.
“Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, and destiny.” ~Alfred A. Montapert
Similarly, the success you seek, while it need not be known by others, can only be achieved if you remain dogged in your pursuit of your desired target. No matter what the obstacles, no matter what frustrations, no matter what the risk, if you remain determined, great success will be yours. Did you know painter Paul Cézanne didn’t receive acclaim until the age of 56, and it wasn’t until after his first significant recognition that the masterpieces such as “The Bathers” were created? A modern example is Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa). Did you know her successful food television career didn’t begin until she was in her mid-fifties as well? After leaving a job in the White House of Office of Management and Budget, she opened her specialty food store Barefoot Contessa. After repeated inquiries by Food Network, she finally acquiesced and starred in her now beloved program Barefoot Contessa.
“There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.” ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox
What you choose to improve upon, what you choose to learn, what you choose to open your mind and eyes to, where you choose to go, with whom you choose to congregate with, these decisions are yours to make and they will determine the opportunities and ideas that will pop into your mind to lead you toward the destiny you may not know exactly how to attain.
“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan
Rather than sitting and ruminating about what will be, why not hop up and take a small step toward it today? Why not spend more time practicing what you eventually want to be skilled at? Why not choose to do the self-improvements that you know would make either your social or work like run more smoothly? Why not invest in yourself? Why not choose to make the destiny you dream of a reality?
A funny thing happened to me in my twenties that wasn’t my nature. I lived in fear more than I ever had before. Before, in my teenage years, I would take the initiative, I would speak up, I would dare, but when my twenties hit, insecurities set in, doubt set in, the models I looked up to became fuzzy. Either I couldn’t see someone who I wanted to follow or I would see someone who I had similarities with and it wasn’t a path that lifted me up. And so, since I had somehow lost my confidence, lost the direction that I never really had, but thought I possessed, I attempted to follow the path that supposedly made other people happy. Thankfully, the happiness never worked, and I intervened in my own life before any permanent damage could occur.
“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” ~Charles Reade
I began to realize that no matter how many people may be potential role models and no matter how many supposed similarities other people have to my life, I am not them and they are not me. My journey is my own, and it is the decisions and the mindset that I choose to allow myself to put into action each day that will determine where I go and how high I fly.
No, I nor you can know when the reality we dream about will come to fruition, but if you continue to be an active participant in your life, refuse to draw parallels and make assumptions that your life will be like “so-and-so’s” because you made similar decisions at certain points in your life, you will amaze yourself.
“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.” ~Ralph Marston
To understand that we are the determiners of our destiny is sometimes, in and of itself, frightening. But once you get over the initial power you possess, cease it, grab it, don’t give it to someone else, don’t pretend the life you want, no matter how hard to design can’t happen. It can, and it will if you are determined.
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” ~ William Shakespeare
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~The How of Happiness (podcast)