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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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    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 January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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