It’s easy in life to blame others for our lack of success, but in reality, no one else is responsible for our success, our failures, or our unhappiness other than ourselves.
You alone are responsible for your own happiness and you alone are in control of your success… give that concept a moment of thought. It’s actually quite empowering. We are not victims of fate, tossed meaninglessly across this turbulent sea of a life. Instead we are, as William Ernest Henley put it, the masters of our own fate and the captains of our souls.
Of course we could sit in our little boat letting the currents of life aimlessly push us towards wherever it sees fit. You may end up somewhere spectacular… or you may end up in the Bermuda Triangle. I urge you to take the helm, set your sights on what you want, plot your course towards it, and attain your goals. Be captain!
Steering through life I apply this concept on a regular basis to drive me closer to my goals. Not long ago, while pursuing my dreams of becoming an architect in the Big Apple, I hit a roadblock where applying this concept was critical.
I was climbing the corporate ladder pretty happily. The owner of the company where I worked was asking for my opinions more often, putting me on committees to oversee projects, and hiring junior staff to support my work. Colleagues noticed and joked with me about how it looked like I was becoming the owner’s new favorite.
Then one day it all seemed to come crashing down. I had brought in the latest blueprints of my project to review with the owner, and he was highly displeased. He had recently asked all of us to start following new drawing standards and he didn’t think the blueprints were printed according to those standards. They were, and so I explained to him how each of his protocols had been followed. He only became more irate and demanded I admit to him that the drawings were not printed correctly. I assured him they were. He only became more angered, and yelled more and more as I tried to assuage him. I was fired on the spot.
I could have lied to please him, telling him I had done the drawings incorrectly. But I hadn’t done them incorrectly, and would I be happy at an office where I was unnecessarily disrespected in front of my colleagues for no fault of my own? No, I would not. I could have moped about how I was being treated unfairly. Could have sat in my apartment feeling sorry for myself for having lost my job through no fault of my own, and now being stuck with the financial stresses of being unemployed in one of the most expensive cities, but that just would have taken attention and focus away from pursuing what I really wanted and clouded the view of my following my dreams.
Instead, I began a new job search immediately.
I gave thought to what I wanted, took charge of my future success, and went after opportunities with all my might. Less than two weeks after being let go, I had accepted an offer and was back at work in a new office. Once again I was on track to pursuing my dreams.
Make the decision in life to go after what you want. Do not make decisions you think will make other people happy. Decide what will truly make you happy.
Do not take the next big job offer because others tell you it will make you successful, take it because you’ll be excited to wake up and go to that job every morning.
Do not overextend yourself and go after a mortgage larger than what you want because everyone tells you that condo is in the next “it” neighborhood; instead buy in a neighborhood where you are comfortable and happy with the payments.
Do not stay in a situation where you are unhappy. You are your greatest cheerleader. No one has greater potential to love you than yourself. No one is better equipped to support you or believe in your dreams, goals and hopes than you are.
You are the captain of your fate, you are the master of your soul. So the next time you are feeling dissatisfied at work, don’t blame your manager; instead, recognize you’re feeling unhappy and ask yourself whether it’s time to make a career change, then make that change looking at what opportunities would make you happy.
The same goes for anything in life that is making you unhappy. Don’t blame the skinny jeans that are making you feel fat or the low bank statement that makes you feel wary about the future. Instead think about what proactive actions you can take to right those situations that are making you unhappy and decide to set your life back on a course that will make you happy again.
The only course you have to follow is the one you set for yourself so pick your course and set sail towards the future you want.
The building blocks that will help you achieve successfully being your own captain are:
1) Recognition: recognize what is making you unhappy
2) Vision: have a clear vision of what you want
3) Action: take action and set goals that will take to towards what you want and away from what is making you unhappy