We have lovely dreams. Hopes for a better future. We explore options, move towards our goals and then life rudely interrupts, halting progress and depressing our souls. Discouraged we throw up our hands, suppress our dreams and return to our ordinary lives. While we can’t force life to bow to our demands, freely give us what we desire, we can navigate around the unplanned obstacles, and we can create our own destiny.
Life is dynamic—it flows. When we stop forward movement, we don’t just stagnate, we slip backwards. Psychologist and philosophers offer many valuable tools for deeper understanding but each theory is only a snapshot—incomplete. They never embody our full experience. When science completely disassembles behavior, freedom to choose disappears. This is a shame.
I don’t argue that a homunculus caricature lives in our head, pulling strings and making decisions. Yet in the gracious beauty of living, the combination of biological and cultural forces, emerges into consciousness. Somewhere in the realm of unconscious impulses and conscious processing choices are made. We make mistakes, we reevaluate and improve. In this space, we create our destiny.
“Yet in the gracious beauty of living, the combination of biological and cultural forces, emerges into consciousness.”~T. Franklin Murphy
Freedom and Destiny
Rollo May wrote, “freedom is how we relate to our destiny, and destiny is significant only because we have freedom” (1999). We can’t have control over our futures unless we have freedom to choose. We can envision possible selves in the future and then strive to become that person. In psychology, we call our ability to time travel to the future in our mind episodic foresight. Once envisioned, we can implement the conditions necessary to realize our future vision of our self. We have the freedom to create destinies that we envision as a possibility (within reason). Sometimes this requires recreating our lives, writing a new story.
No Guarantees of Success
Life flows. It gives, and it takes. There is no precise pattern conventional wisdom can offer to guarantee happiness, success, or health. We learn from the many snapshots but must integrate theory into a course that navigates the fast-moving waters of reality. It is on the waters of life, not in university laboratories, that our destinies are discovered and created.
As we engage in living, with all its richness, we have opportunities to expand. Some opportunities arise from wise choice, other appear random. We envision the self-made person as a hard-earned reward. Sometimes, yes. But many of success stories, have many unseen components—opportunistic timing or large inheritances.
Kevin J. Daum, entrepreneur and best-selling author warns, “people who take a reactive approach to growth and development will suffer the same fate as companies, managers, and employees who let the markets, technology, and competitors determine their destiny” (2012).
Our stories are not completely self-written. We are, however, not powerless. Ultimately, we take the life that is given and mold it; we are the captains of our ships, and the sculptors creating our destiny. We do not choose the stone to sculpt but we swing of the mallet and the position the chisel.
“It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll; I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”~ William Ernest Henley
Finding Balance to Create Your Destiny
As we balance fate of circumstance with empowerment of choice, we widen our vision, seeing beyond the theories. The intertwining experiences and the liveliness of reality, can be directed. Accordingly, we choose amidst the whirlwinds of activity where to focus attention. We can be angry and examine the the emotion for appropriateness. We examine the behaviors of others against a wider backdrop. Widening our vision, accepting uncertainty, and unflappable in our goals provides the rudder to guide us through troubled waters, creating the destinies we desire.
Learn wisdom, be empowered! Start creating the destiny you desire—today. Change occurs one small choice at a time as we consistently integrate knowledge into the dynamics of living.
Daum, Kevin J. (2012). Seven Tips for Creating Your Destiny. Inc. Magazine. Published 8-17-2012. Accessed 5-15-2023.
May, Rollo (1999). Freedom and Destiny. W. W. Norton & Company.