“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where they are had to begin where they were.” ~Richard L. Evans
We all come into this world the same way: naked with nothing. Now, given, some of us have some advantages that soon become apparent: money, brains, looks. These advantages can make it easier to succeed in life. But despite advantages, however abundant they may seem, everyone has to build themselves up from this initial, naked beginning. Will we end up how we started? Or will we take whatever advantages we may have, build our resolve, and make something of ourselves?
Regardless of whatever advantages you may or may not have, life happens. I’ve said it before: Things get in the way. Plans don’t work out the way we’d like them to. Our goals seem too far out of reach to be achievable. As easy as it can be to let these disappointments bring us down, it can be helpful to think that all of the people we look up to — all the people we admire for having done great things — have had to deal with the same stuff. They had to make the decision to rise past it, to build themselves up beyond the hardships of life to become successful. They all started the same as we did: staring a difficult future in the face, having to make the decision to succumb to it or rise above it.
Will you let life get the better of you, or will you rise to the occasion?
Louis D. Brandeis said “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”
For someone to want to do something that’s been described as “impossible,” he or she must really have the drive to succeed. He or she is fighting against the rest of society, perhaps even those closest to him or her. But proving them wrong — and accomplishing that goal — can be fulfilling, satisfying, and worthwhile. And the end result can be more powerful than with any more “possible” task.
I have struggled with some of my goals. But if it looks like a goal may be impossible, perhaps I can use that as fuel for the fire. Perhaps trying to prove that it is possible will give me the necessary push to really make it happen. I’d like to think so, anyway. And my goal is definitely worthwhile, at least to me.
Whenever you feel discouraged in your goal, it may be helpful to think of this quote. If you think about it, it really is true. Inventions, discoveries, monumental tasks — many deemed impossible, some shortly before success — have really pushed society forward. They’ve changed our lives. And as long as you believe in yourself and your goals, nothing is truly impossible.
“The secret of success in life is for one to be ready for one’s opportunity when it comes.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
This goes hand in hand with what we’ve discussed already regarding fate and everything happening for a reason. Why not just sit back and wait for fate to take care of you? Because if you’re not ready for the opportunities fate presents, you won’t get anywhere. You won’t realize that what’s happening is an opportunity to be grabbed, and even if you realize it, you won’t be primed and ready to take full advantage of that opportunity.
In the novel I’m currently writing, a character actually talks about this. In her case, she acknowledges that the path her life has taken never would have happened if she hadn’t put herself out there, hadn’t been ready and waiting to meet her husband. The events that brought her to that point had helped her appreciate the opportunity that arose.
So how do you make yourself ready? Putting yourself out there, and learning, growing and developing who you are as a person will make you more aware of who you are, what you want, and where you want to go. And being aware means that when opportunity comes knocking, you’ll recognize it for what it is — and you’ll be ready to grab it by the horns and turn it into a tool for success.
Successful people don’t necessarily get more opportunities. They just know how to make the most of what they’ve got and make themselves ready for the opportunities that come their way.
“I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life.” ~ Diane Ackerman
Whatever the reason for your decision to take charge of your life, this is certainly a compelling one. It may be easier to watch life go by, to settle for whatever comes your way. But is it satisfying? Does it fulfill you? I suppose only you can answer that question, but chances are if you’re reading this blog, it would not.
I know I wouldn’t be content just letting life happen. Sure, some good stuff could come my way. Just as easily some bad stuff could come by, too. And, technically, the same could be said even if I do play a more active role in my life. But at least if I take charge I can say I really lived. I can say I did what I wanted to do, became who I wanted to be. Instead of being a passenger, watching life go by, I am the driver, steering my way down the road, following the paths I want to follow, taking detours as I see fit, avoiding the potholes as much as possible.
Along the same lines, I can do a complete 180 if I want to. I can change my course if I’m unhappy with how things are going. That’s what I’m doing now. Instead of heading down the path I had been heading down — complete with unsatisfying jobs, a sense of being lost and unfulfilled, and an unhappy reality, I can try something new, take a new road, backtrack a bit and try again. I can take charge. After all: I’m in the driver’s seat.
“Nobody has things just as they would like them. The thing to do is to make a success with what material I have. It is a sheer waste of time and soul-power to imagine what I would do if things were different. They are not different.” ~ Frank Crane
I read these words and find they’re much easier said than done. Usually I’m bemoaning the lack of time I have, since there never seem to be enough hours in the day, and they’re often filled with things I don’t want to do! Or there’s the money, of which there’s never enough. I wish I could rise above the disappointment and take charge with what I have, but I find myself slipping down into negative thinking on occasion.
The key here, I think, is acceptance. Sitting and bemoaning my fate does nothing except make me depressed and miserable. Obviously I can’t make more time. I can just do the best with what I have. And the same applies to other things, as well. I can’t will myself to have more money, better health or a greater impact. I have to accept my current reality.
Once I’ve accepted it, then I can do something to change what is in my power to change. I can take my current situation and resources, figure out what can be done with them, and try to improve my situation. Things may not be different right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take charge and turn them into something that works for me. Rather than waste “time and soul-power” I am instead taking action and being productive. And the things I can’t change? Well, nothing’s perfect. But at least if I can learn to work with them instead of against them, maybe I’ll get somewhere.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~ Bernice Johnson
It’s not easy to change your life. But while it may be the greatest challenge there is, it’s also one of the most worthwhile, because changing your life will get you closer to where you want to be — and closer to the person you’re meant to be. And that person is the culmination of everything that has happened in your life, everything you’ve experienced and everything you’ve overcome.
In one of the first blog postings on this site, I discussed how all of the experiences you’ve had thus far have made you who you are today. This quote confirms that I’m not the only one who thinks that. While some of the experiences have been trying, difficult, or seemingly impossible, they have all shaped the person you have become. Those challenges that you’ve overcome have helped you get to this point, and have helped you determine what’s important to you.
These experiences that have brought you here have made you really evaluate your life and determine how you want it to turn out. They’ve given you the courage to take charge of your life and turn it around. They’ve helped you “discover who you are.” And how can that be a bad thing? You’re pretty great! So embrace the challenges for what they are: opportunities — to learn more about yourself and decide what you want out of life, to become a stronger person who can tackle anything, and to fulfill your true potential.
“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” ~ John Updike
If you’re a cynic, you probably don’t agree with the quote above. (Then again, if you’re a cynic, this blog probably isn’t for you anyway!) But I happen to agree. Dreams can come true. I think they just need a little help to get there.
As I indicated in one of my first blog posts here, if you just expect fate to hand you what you want, it probably won’t happen. While fate certainly plays a part in what takes place, you have a brain, and the will and desire to change your life. So why would you just sit back and hope that things work out? Make those dreams come true.
At the same time, I think that if you put yourself out there and make the effort, you will be rewarded. I’ve read in a few places the quote “the harder I work, the luckier I get,” and I think the same applies to dreams. The more you reach for them, and strive for them, the closer they get. Maybe it’s because you make it happen; maybe it’s because fate just sees how much you want it then. Either way, I’ll keep working hard and take my chances!
Booker T. Washington said “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.”
It’s kind of like watching a movie or reading a book. If the dilemma stated at the beginning was resolved in five minutes, you would consider money and time wasted. What was the point? But the conflicts, the problems, that arise as the plot unfolds make it all worth it. You learn about the characters. They gain substance and, well, character. You understand where they’re coming from, what brought them to this point and what will ultimately help them succeed. The plot will, hopefully, keep you on the edge of your seat. Will the goal be reached? Will it have a “happy” ending? And when that ending comes, will it leave you satisfied? With all great movies and books, the ending will be justified. It will be the right ending. And it’s the journey that makes it so.
As you stand at the beginning of your new journey in life, I find this quote is particularly motivating. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t succeeded yet. You will. And the struggles and difficulties you encounter along the way will make the end that much more rewarding — and you that much stronger. It won’t be an easy path, as I’ve indicated already. But it will be worth it. And if the path to get there was easy, simple and clear, then it wouldn’t be as satisfying when you reach your goal. But if you persevere, and do your best to accomplish what you need to, the ending will be justified. And the path that got you there will be the reason.