Growing up in Southwest Georgia, my family primarily used a riding lawnmower to cut the grass. Our yard was pretty large, and although my older brothers had at times mowed the lawn with a push mower, it was an obvious relief when they were old enough to use the riding version.
As I grew older, my dad also allowed me to drive it in order to cut the grass. It was actually pretty fun and I enjoyed navigating up and down the yard, and maneuvering through bushes and underneath low tree branches.
The most fun happened whenever I took my foot off the gas pedal and brake. The mower seemed to take on a mind of its own or had become possessed. As I lifted my foot, the mower would gradually accelerate to a faster speed, making me feel as if I was on a race-cart (literally).
It was exhilarating! But then, I’d reach the end of the yard’s perimeter and would need to make a turn. There was no way that I could safely manage the turn while moving at that momentum, without tipping over. Thankfully, all I needed to do was, once again, put my foot on the brake and then safely turn the wheel before plunging head-first into a ditch.
As demonstrated in my riding lawnmower story, we might think it’s fun to allow something else to order the steps in our lives, but after a while if we don’t have any say in the matter, it can be scary not knowing what could happen next or when it could happen. And if you’re career is hanging in the balance, it’s important that you have greater say over your life than any other outside individual or thing.
Even those who live by faith believe that true faith must also be coupled with action if there’s a desire to achieve a certain result. We should never leave our future success up to chance. How many times have you let someone or something else drive your destiny? Is it time for you to take back the wheel?
How do you define ‘destiny,’ you ask?
Destiny involves the idea that your life is a set (or course) of predetermined events. It means that certain things will very likely happen in your life, but it’s going to take some effort from you to get there. Whether you believe in this ideology or not, it’s worth thinking about and taking into consideration.
Is there something in your heart or mind that leads you to believe that you are destined for something on Earth? You may not have a clear picture of what it is, but you know deep down inside that there’s more to your life than what’s happening at this moment?
Now, let’s think about this: Do you always feel a sense of certainty and confidence with every step you take, each career move you make, or every decision you act upon? If you’re human, probably not. Everyone makes missteps at some point in their lives. Some make more than others.
Well, with those missteps what would you say led you to that step, decision, or act? Was it emotion or adrenaline? Was it finances, or lack thereof? Was it a result of what someone said? Was it because of a recommendation or a glowing description of the company? Was it because it was a last resort? The list could go on and on.
On the other hand, you’re certain you’ve made decisions in the past or recently that were based on your gut, experience, and/or conviction. While you might’ve allowed yourself to absorb the perspectives of outside influences, your decision was your own and you stand by it one hundred percent. Excellent! It sounds like you’re in a great place. (If you feel compelled, please share your story in the comments section.)
My point is that we are all motivated by various reasons to do or not to do something. And we all have the potential to be easily swayed. Our surroundings and circumstances can definitely play a role in our decision-making. None of these reasons are poor examples on how to determine which steps you should take to reach your greatest potential. But when all of your decisions are based on outside factors therein lies the problem.
While it’s great to receive outside support and to seek advice from family, friends, colleagues, mentors and professors, the last decision you must act on — when selecting your true career path– must be based on your inner voice and not someone else’s.
Are you letting your inner voice be heard?
Our inner voice is vitally important to our job sanity. If you refuse to listen and respond to your inner voice, and end up traveling along a career path that is at odds with your true self, you could be feeling:
- like an outsider at your job;
- chronically stressed;
- impatient and always watching the clock;
- jealousy toward co-workers who seemingly enjoy their jobs;
- and so on.
Maybe you started your career path years and years ago with great zeal and joy. But recently, you’ve become discontent. Depending on your circumstance, your dissatisfaction with the work is probably normal and just a natural progression of job burnout. It’s possible that you or the job description might’ve changed, or because it’s been several years, you outgrew your role and it’s time for a new adventure.
Perhaps you’re on the other side of the fence and you’re a recent college graduate. Have these emotions started to surface? You might need to give the role more time. But if the feelings persist it’d be in your best interest to reexamine your heart and determine whether you chose the right job for you.
If you’re able, start evaluating the situation as soon as you see signs of job burnout, such as dreading to go back to work after a weekend or vacation. I recommend speaking to a human resources representative at your job, who can likely guide you through some of these emotions. They’re required to keep conversations with employees confidential. And if you can afford it, a career counselor or therapist can help you navigate the muddy waters.
If you’ve made the decision that someone else has been driving your destiny, and you’re ready to take back the wheel, then it’s time for you to examine what your options are and start on the road to greater career fulfillment!
It’s time to Stand Up For Your Life!
I’ve been reading a book called Stand Up For Your Life: Develop the Courage, Confidence, And Character to Fulfill Your Greatest Potential, by Cheryl Richardson (Free Press). At the end of the book, Richardson offers a list of inspiring and practical guidelines to live by while in the process of reaching your greatest potential. I thought I’d encourage you to adopt them as well. Reading the entire book has more impact, but this brief list packs a good punch.
- Know who you are. Invest in an on-going relationship with yourself by staying connected to your inner life.
- Stop hiding your power. Let your thoughts, words, and actions express your true essence — the very best of who you are.
- Stand up for yourself. Strengthen your relationship by telling the truth with grace and love.
- Build your courage muscles. Look fear in the eye and use challenging situations to make you even stronger.
- Pass up good for great. Keep your spiritual standards high so you won’t undersell your needs and desires.
- Honor your values by making choices that keep your life centered around what matters most.
- Link your personal goals to a larger vision that enables you to truly make a difference in the world.
Keep the Discussion Going
Have you been letting someone or something else drive your destiny? Have you identified what or who that is? Maybe it’s past mistakes, your weight, a trusted friend, or your boss.
Have you stifled your inner voice and can no longer distinguish who’s talking? Maybe it’s time for you to reconnect with your “inner life” as Richardson suggests.
Commit to driving your own destiny, and making deliberate, thoughtful, and faith-filled steps to securing a brighter future! Talk to ya’ll soon!