Have you ever stopped to think about how yesterday and tomorrow are connected?
There are 7 billion people on this planet. Out of all of them, you are the one person best suited to determine what happens to you tomorrow. No one else is as interested in your future, no one else is as invested in the outcome as you are, and no one else is in the unique position to change your circumstances.
If you don’t take action, who will?
You stand where you do today because of the decisions you made yesterday. Where are you going to go to school, live, and work? Whom will you marry, be friends with, and look up to? What will you do with your free time? What will you wear today? What will you have for lunch?
These decisions add up. If we don’t like them, we can make another. But we’re the ones who get to make them.
Until we own our past, we can’t direct our future.
We have to accept responsibility for our actions. The choices we have made are what lead us to where we are now. If we believe we got ourselves into this mess, then we can also get ourselves out of it.
Anytime we think the problem is “out there,” that thought is the problem.
Stephen R. Covey
Have you ever been around someone who blames everybody but themselves for everything wrong in their life? They’re late because traffic was heavy. They don’t get paid enough. The government is doing too much/not enough.
How much fun was it to listen to them go on and on about how other people were making their life miserable?
If you’re going to blame everybody else for your state in life, then you’ve ceded all control over your destiny. Nothing you can do will make any difference.
Our lives are interdependent, so no decision is made in a vacuum. Our choices affect others and their choices affect us, sometimes in terrible, tragic ways. There’s no denying that. We get to share in the consequences of others’ actions.
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
In 7 Habits, Stephen Covey teaches that we’re free to choose our actions, but we’re not free to choose the consequences of those actions.
Let that sink in. Actions have consequences. They’re inescapable. When we take an action, we are accepting the consequential results. Sooner or later, we will get what’s coming to us.
We tend to think of a consequence as something negative. I’m guilty of passing that connotation on to my kids. A consequence is the logical result of an action. Nothing more. Some are good, some could be better.
Positive consequences are just as inescapable as negative consequences. This is one of the bedrock ideas behind personal growth and productivity: we can get the results we want by taking the actions that produce those results.
It’s not random, but we might not always have a clear understanding of what’s going on. It’s simple, but not easy.
It’s why we are where we are today. It’s how we’ll get to where we want to be tomorrow.
Accept that you’re living the consequences of your past actions. Then picture where you want to be this time next year. Or this time tomorrow. Or in 50 years.
Once you have the future you want to build in mind, start taking the actions that will take you there.