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Is Your Life Predetermined Or Me Determined?

Is Your Life Predetermined Or Me Determined?

    I’ve never been one to sit on my hands and wait for some cosmically pre-ordained life purpose to miraculously reveal itself via a series of dreams, visions or prophecies. Or for an angel to appear at my window with hand-written instructions from God. Although an angel would be pretty cool.

    Nor have I been the type to buy into the widely-held view of destiny and I’ve mostly considered (the concept of) fate to be the refuge of the indecisive, the lazy, the fearful and the deluded. But that’s just my (not-very-popular) view. For many people, the traditional concept of destiny provides a level of comfort and if there’s one thing we fearful, lazy creatures like; it’s comfort.

    In some ways, destiny is our (perceived) escape clause: life’s all predetermined anyway, so what’s the point of working hard, taking chances, getting uncomfortable and setting goals?

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    Destiny Schmestiny

    People talk about destiny all the time. Especially when they’re talking about big-picture life stuff. Or when they’re rationalising why something didn’t (or won’t) happen. “Don’t worry Darling; it’s not meant to be”. The term destiny has an almost romantic, mystical, feel-good kind of vibe about it. “That was always going to be her destiny” (as the orchestra comes to life in the background).

    It seems that no matter what she did (thoughts, behaviours, reactions, decisions, plans, goals) her life, or part thereof, was predetermined by destiny. It was always going to unfold in a certain way. Despite her; not because of her. Apparently some unseen, cosmic force was firmly behind the steering wheel of her life. She didn’t really have to touch the controls because her life path (destiny) was pre-ordained and non-negotiable.

    Am I the only person who considers this thinking to be a load of self-limiting, mumbo-jumbo crap? Am I missing something obvious? Why on earth would anyone buy into this? Oh, that’s right; it requires less effort and courage than the alternative.

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    Beyond our Control

    In my opinion, one of the most destructive notions we embrace is the traditional concept of destiny. Why? Because it teaches us that our life, and what we might do, be, create and achieve in this life, is somehow beyond our control. Some people embrace this kind of thinking because it takes pressure off them to steer their ship, shape their own future, and be responsible for what they produce in their world.

    Take a look at what conventional ‘wisdom’ teaches us about destiny:

    De-sti-ny (noun):

    1) The predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.

    2) The inevitable or necessary fate to which a particular person or thing is destined; one’s lot.

    3) A predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control.

    If the above dictionary definitions are to be accepted and believed then I may as well sit on the couch and let life happen to me, around me and despite me, because apparently, it’s all gonna eventuate in a particular way no matter what. It’s predetermined. Inevitable. We’re all just helpless passengers on destiny’s back.

    I wish someone had shared this with me earlier; I wouldn’t have wasted so much time making those tough decisions, taking those chances, facing my fears, dealing with my destructive habits, overcoming those obstacles, going to university, working hard and busting my arse to create my best life.

    To think that people actually believe this “preordained, inevitable and beyond human power” crap? Give me a bucket. I’ll create my own destiny, thanks.

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    What about you?

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    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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