Post #3: 3 Things you Need to Control Your Own Destiny

I believe there are 3 things that make up our destiny… luck, choices, and hard work.

And we’re going to be talking about these 3 things a ton as Rare Existence moves forward. I’ll start now with the cliff notes version of my thoughts on these…

 

1. Luck is out of your control, so ignore it.

Whether you believe it’s God, fate, luck, physics, or the tooth fairy, you have to admit that there is something out there that makes things happen outside of our own will. For simplicity’s sake, and my lack of time to get into an existential argument with you about this right now, we’ll call it luck here. The thing about luck is that It will happen or it won’t, you’re blessed with the right gifts, circumstances, or opportunities, or you’re not… and there’s nothing you can do about it, so just pray that it comes and leave it at that. And if it happens to avoid you for some reason, please use every ounce of energy in you to try not to blame everything in your life on that (or on anything for that matter because passing blame is always harmful to you). If you do choose to spend your time fretting about your bad luck or lack of good luck, you will never find it in you to focus on the other two things you need in order to achieve the life you are meant to live. Just pretend that luck doesn’t exist so that you are neither wasting your time waiting for it or blaming it… because doing either will hinder you greatly. Luck does matter, but you have to live like it doesn’t.

 

2. Poor past choices make things harder but they do not ruin your chance for an extraordinary life.

Choices do matter significantly because consequences matter significantly, but bad choices in the past are possible to overcome, they just create extra work for you to get beyond them is all.  Sometimes that’s A LOT of extra work. Sometimes it’s so much extra work that people stop trying or just quit before they even start because they believe it’s impossible. And that’s why choices gets listed as one of the 3 things that affect your destiny… because the consequences of bad choices can make you give up.
Actually, poor past choices don’t really have to be one of the 3 factors that affect your destiny, if you don’t let them. Just like luck, this is not something you need to focus on to be successful, it’s really something you need to STOP focusing on the be successful. If you keep the focus on #3 (hard work) and just accept that your past choices might make you have to work a double shift in the hard work department, you’ll be alright. Paying the consequence of poor past choices works just like getting out of financial debt…you work twice as hard for a time to pay off what you owe for your past decisions and then eventually you find yourself back to even, ready to spend that energy you were using to pay for what was behind to now focus on moving forward. Focusing on your past mistakes and feeling sorry for yourself rather than taking action to fix them is just as bad as waiting for the Kool-Aid man to rescue you. Stop focusing on it and start working towards something better. I’m not trying to minimize your problems, I know they matter and affect you significantly and I do have compassion for you in that. I also know it can be so very hard to let go of the things you are beating yourself up for, but it’s the only way to think and live if you want an extraordinary life so you absolutely have to figure out how to move on.
As far as your future choices, be careful and thoughtful even when it comes to the seemingly smallest things. Since I was young I’ve believed that everyone is going a direction, even if they aren’t actively choosing that direction, but just letting it passively happen to them. Even the tiniest baby steps are taking you somewhere (just ask Bob).  Never believe that you are standing still, you aren’t.  You are either going the direction you want or the direction you don’t want. Choose wisely and make sure you actively CHOOSE instead of letting it just happen to you. Passive movement is almost worse than poor choice movement.

 

3.  If you believe in hard work over luck you will go farther.

I can’t count how many times people look at me longingly and say, “you guys are just so lucky” and while I know what they mean and I agree with them that my job has amazing perks, it’s still a fact that if they happen to say that during our really busy season when we are each working 80+ hours a week and my only friends are the characters on Weeds that I watch while I work, those people who tell me that are “so lucky” I don’t punch them in the face. Even more than their actual words, what bothers me most is the look in their eyes when they say it. It tells me right away they don’t believe the phrase “live your dreams” is meant for them.  It’s only meant for other people and they just aren’t one of the lucky ones so it’s just impossible and not worth trying at all. Yes, luck makes things easier, but it’s not a permanent state of your identity.  If you believe you are permanently a lucky person or an unlucky person then you will most definitely end up an unlucky person (what the psychology types call a self-fulfilling prophesy) because you will never ever make the right choices or put in the necessary hard work to MAKE things happen for yourself.  You have to try to MAKE yourself lucky, and that comes through hard work. If you work hard and stumble onto a stroke of luck, you will be successful. If you work hard and never stumble on a stroke of luck, you could still be successful. If you never work hard, your only option for success will be to grow a red beard, wear a green cap and suit, and carry around a pot of gold because you are going to have to actually BECOME a leprechaun to find the kind of miraculous luck you will need for there to be any chance in hell that you are going to be successful.  So bottom line, work like luck doesn’t exist.  Make you’re luck and then whether luck does or doesn’t go your way, you’re still much more likely to be better off than if you are just sitting around playing video games waiting for the Kool-Aid man to bust through your wall, say “OH YEAH”, and hand you the key to your big break. Keep on waiting, buddy. And if it does happen… puhLEASE send me pictures of you with your arm around around the Kool-Aid man because that is AWESOME and I really do hope that happens to someone!

Don’t forget that living the life you are meant to live, means there’s room in the equation for everything that has ever happened to you (whether it’s because of chance or because of you).  As I said in the first post, the life we are meant to live is made up of everything that makes you up, including your luck, your past, and your work ethic.  It is your responsibility to attempt to understand the things that make you up and to strengthen and utilize them in a way that will fill the place in the world that’s waiting for you. No excuses.  Only thinking, identifying, working, and improving. Let’s go.

Post #2: I always sat up straight and ate all my broccoli

Hi, nice to meet you.  We’re still kind of strangers but we’re about to get intimate really quick.  The kind of stranger intimacy that only happens when you are thrown together by a chance tragedy with a group of unlikely strangers and are forced to team up to stay alive (movies don’t lie right?).

The point is, if we’re about to embark on this journey of extraordinary living together, it might help to have a little “first day of school getting to know you” kind of time. The future direction I’m headed towards might make a little more sense if you know about the past I came from. So here’s my story.

Oh and one more thing before we get started…just so you know, a lot of the stuff I’m about to tell you about my life is old news. I wrote these first posts over a year ago in my beginning preparations for this blog and my life has already made significant leaps towards the extraordinary since then. But too bad, I’m going to make you sit in suspense for awhile and you’ll just have to keep reading Rare Existence to find out what happens to bring me to the point I’m at right now! Secrets, secrets, secrets!

So here goes…

I grew up with very little change in my life.  The timeline of my childhood probably has like 2 lines on it (and one of those lines is my birth).  I went to the same church from birth until high school and that church was also the school I went to from pre-school until 8th grade.  My dad was heavily involved in leadership at that church and my mom went from being on staff at the school to being on staff at the church.  So basically my entire life took place on the same church/school campus until I was 14.  Oh and let’s not forget the fact that I lived in the same house from 2 years old to 22 years old (when I got married) and that I still have yet to ever live in another state or city (I’ve been in the Phoenix area my entire life). I told you, that timeline is steady and straight! Eventually I stopped going to that church and I went to a public high school, community college, and then on to Arizona State University.  I graduated from ASU and went on to pursue a master’s degree in counseling (which I didn’t finish and is on indefinite hold).  My parents are still married, I’ve never lost anyone close to me, and my entire extended family still all lives nearby.

You can see that my life in a nutshell equals very little change.

When you don’t have any major transitions, trauma’s, or tragedies until high school (and still very few then), you grow up viewing life a certain way.  And for me, that life was marred by a constant fear of what happens when things DO change and when tragedy DOES strike!  I know it’s ridiculous and you can call me a pessimist, but while I was able to enjoy my easy going life (I am still SO grateful for it!), I also felt extremely guilty and had a lot of fear of the unknown.

This fear of the unknown, quickly transformed into me trying to prevent anything unplanned, or unapproved from entering into my life.

If you want to get right down to it (and I do, because this blog is about honesty), I became very controlling.  I believed I could control my world and the people in my world… so that everything could go how I wanted it to and I could remain happy always. The good thing that came from my young fearful state is that I was so afraid of getting into trouble that I always followed the rules and was protected from some of those life changes consequences that the after school specials warned me about. The down side to this is that it definitely fed my view that if I was “good” enough I could keep full control over my life and keep anything bad out.

I guess that’s the view you develop when everything does go your way for a really long time.  I’d never been confronted by the force of nature or by seemingly random acts of God.  So I started to believe I was the god of my own little universe.

While I never experienced a major force outside of my control, I did finally come face to face with a PERSON I couldn’t control (by the way I didn’t control my parents, but I didn’t need to try because my obedience led to very little conflict between us).  My husband was not about to let me control HIS world and mine!  So thanks to God knowing the kind of person I needed to marry more than I even did, I ended up being forced to confront the fake little reality I’d created and sat comfortably in for so long and instead step out and begin to take a few risks in my life.

If this were an after school special, it would end with a super dramatic chord progression and “… to be continued” written across the bottom of the screen.

Post #1: Epic journey’s are not just for hobbits

This blog is going to be epic. See, even the first sentence is pretty epic!  I considered starting off humble or humorously self-deprecating in a lovable Liz Lemon sort of way, but I prefer to be honest.  The fact is, I think we’re going to rock it up in here. Let’s just say, if this blog isn’t epic (which is not a problem we have to worry about, I’m telling you) then I’ve wasted the last year that I’ve spent writing and preparing for it… and possibly much more of my life if the entire concept is weak because I’ve been working from this particular world view long before I started writing about it.

Since living a “Rare Existence” and practicing “Extraordinary Living” is by definition the exact opposite of living in a way that is common and ordinary, you obviously can’t have a definition that is common or ordinary. Each person’s definition for it is unique. So no, you can’t just figure yours out by observing what others are doing or by writing the right answers on your arm (cheaters), it’s much more complicated than that and definitely requires you to wear your thinking caps as a permanent accessory (mine’s in black, so it goes with everything).

This is where most people (average Joes) stop… and where you (the rare and extraordinary) keep going.

Everyone knows what they DON’T want to do in life -and ironically it’s usually exactly what they ARE doing-but very few people know what they DO want to do in life.  The really ridiculous part is that when people finally get out of what they know they don’t want to do in life, they usually panic and scramble to get back into what they just got out of because they don’t know what else to do. How many people do you know who used every ounce of energy to get to retirement, only to take on a new job as soon as they get there? Exactly.

Extraordinary living isn’t all about what job you have, but my point is that it’s time we put in the energy and effort needed to really figure this stuff out before we find ourselves with a great opportunity to change, only to waste it by returning to the familiar and comfortable ways that we were so miserable in. Even more importantly, lets figure this out BEFORE we reach the age of retirement and realize that we wasted our whole lives being miserable or not doing what we were meant to be doing!

My purpose here is to help you identify what you DO want to do and to give you the tools and support you need to actually do it.

This is bigger than your career choice, or any individual choice you make for that matter. It’s bigger than day to day habits or schedule; bigger than all your ideas, decisions, and views… because it’s all those things put together. It’s everything that makes up you, being used with intention for the bigger picture. It’s the opposite of passivity. It’s living a life of purpose. A purpose that is decided based on who you are as an individual, as a member of your family, as a friend, in your community, and in the world.

Though the specifics of our definitions of extraordinary living will vary (remember, unique snowflakes), I want to have a common starting point for us all that we can use as a base to build our own specifics onto.

“Extraordinary Living” means living the life you are meant to live regardless of risk, difficulty, opinion of others, weaknesses, or failures.  This involves knowing yourself WELL, pursuing your passions, overcoming your fears, and working hard at all you do.

These are the kinds of things we’ll be working on together if you’re choose to embark on this with me. I know…it sounds really hard. It is. But it’s totally worth it. And it’s something we all need lots of support to do. Which is why I’m here and hoping you’ll be here for me too.

Part of my personal definition of extraordinary living involves living in community and sharing my life with others. So as my husband, Scottie, and I seek to discover what an extraordinary life looks like for us, as individuals and a couple, it is completely necessary that I involve like minded souls (or at least people who are just curious and are destined to become like minded souls) in my/our personal journey.

Plug your nose and hold your breath… we’re going in… together.