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What Do You Mean, I Can Plan My Future?

From my podcast of the same name.

It’s hard to take responsibility for where you’ve ended up.  Do you have to?  On the other hand, is it really possible to affect your life tomorrow? What do you imagine yourself doing five years, ten years from now?  What would your dream life look like?  And why aren’t you there?  Or are you?  Name the barriers that prevent you from realizing this dream.  Are they removable, or at least changeable?

For, you see, you are where you are, mostly because you’ve planned it this way.  Aside from unforeseen illness or injury, you have always had the power to live your dream.

“What?” you say.  “That’s ridiculous.  You should see my life.  There’s no way I could have planned it out this way!”

And I’m here to tell you that you did.

I remember, years ago, listening to Dr. Phil as a guest on the Oprah show.  I forget what the show was about,  probably something along the lines of taking control of your life.  A woman from the audience stood up and related how her husband had run off with a younger woman after twenty-some odd years of marriage, and how she didn’t understand that she could be held responsible for this horrible event.  After asking for a few details, Dr. Phil—you know how he gets—looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Yes, you’re responsible.”

“But I don’t understand how,” she mumbled.

“You enabled him to treat you the way he did.  You overlooked key warning signs.  You didn’t stand up to him.”  The audience looked just as shocked as she did.

Try it.  On a piece of paper, write down where you think you are today.  We’ll use a hypothetical situation.  I’ll make the circumstances a little claustrophobic, so you can see that even in the most difficult of situations, you can make it work.

You’re a woman, 35-years-old.  You have four kids and are a stay-at-home mom.  You’re frustrated that you live in X state because you want more culture, more outdoorsy things to do.  You’re married to a guy who thinks his job is to pull in the paycheck, nothing else.  Kids are not his specialty, and he refuses to help much with them.  You used to garner accolades at your previous job, being an attorney, but needless to say, you’re tired, you’re unappreciated, and you’re craving adventure…anything else but this day-in-day-out of the same old schedule.  You’re counting the days until the kids leave home.  [Needless to say there are plenty of stay-at-home mothers who are content, but I’m using this particular kind of discontented stay-at-home mom to illustrate a particular point.  Obviously, everyone is different.]

Now, this woman can trace back through her history, to see how she arrived where she is presently.  She made the decision to marry this man, despite not knowing fully how he’d behave once they had children.  She made the decision to quit her job (or let’s say she was forced to, by her husband).  She and her husband made the decision to have four children (or it was a passive decision by not using birth control).  Whatever the reasons, the decisions were made, and here she is.

How can she possibly change her life?  Wouldn’t it take too much work?  Here’s where it gets sticky, because oftentimes, people have certain beliefs that prevent them from making good choices for themselves.  Let’s say this woman is against divorce, but she sees a solution in couple’s therapy.  She asks her husband to go with her.  He refuses.  In my book, this gives her license to do all sorts of things, but she may not feel this freedom.  She has to stand up to her husband, though, and his refusal to take ownership in their family life; otherwise, he’ll simply continue on his merry way, and she’ll be a single parent in a married relationship…forever.  This is immoral on his part, and unnecessary on hers.

She can insist on going back to work, showing her kids she’s honoring what she values about herself, and it’s okay to invest in oneself.  She and her husband can look up moving options.  What state would offer the most in cultural and outdoorsy opportunities for them AND provide great jobs for the two of them?  They could readjust their budget to accommodate childcare, so the children are not their sole focus.  It may be healthier for them not to be around their children 24/7.

There are options.  We just don’t see them, when we’re mired in a situation we’re not fond of.

As I mentioned before, not all stay-at-home moms are miserable.  I’m talking about the ones who are.  You can change your situation.  Yes, it’s going to take some time and some effort (just like it did getting to the spot you are today), but if you want to change your life and enjoy your circumstances, then know you have an “out.”  You may have to see a life coach to help you start taking baby steps to get where you want to be.

For so long, I’ve seen so many of my friends (who complain about their situations week after week) paralyzed by their position in life.  If they’re religious in any way, it’s because God wants them there or is trying to teach them a lesson.  If they’re not religious, it’s just because that’s just what life served up to them.

No, a thousand times no.  You are the captain of your life, and you must take control now.  Take care of yourself.  Refuse to be emotionally or physically or spiritually abused.  Sever ties with unhealthy people.  Change your “I can’t” to “I will.”  Ask yourself what’s important to you.  How do you want to be treated?  If your son or daughter were living your life, what would you suggest they do differently?  What motivates you?  Set some goals.  Make some radical, life-changing decisions before it’s too late.

Keep in mind that the further you are from where you want to be, the harder it will be to get there.  But to know that your dream is attainable should be the only encouragement you need.

You owe it to yourself to have the best life ever.  And so what if you’ve made mistakes in the past?  Correct them now, one by one, so you can get back where you wanted to be.  It’s never too late.

[Post image: Road by qbq903 on stock.xchng]

2 Comments


  1. Barb
    Dec 27, 2011

    I love your blog, and I’m always happy when I see a new post, and I agree with so much in this post with the exception of the tone. Perhaps it’s because I am where I want to be and I am happy with my life and I know I made my life happen, but when I started reading “It’s hard to take responsibility for where you’ve ended up” I wanted to scream “No it’s not!” And why use the phrase “ended up?” “Ended up” sounds like settling for where your life came to rest when in reality I arrived at where I wanted to be. I got here through my own direction. I know this is exactly what you say in the post, but I just had to chime in because not all your readers are feeling lost and directionless and unhappy. Some of us read your blog to remind us of the things we’ve already discovered. Love the blog. Love the messages. I love that I now have a blog post I can point people to when they continue to complain about the situation they’ve let themselves stay in for years. Great post.


    • Elissa
      Dec 27, 2011

      Barb,

      The tone is a wake-up call for those who are stuck, those who DON’T like where they’ve “ended up.” [Sometimes…I'm sure you know this…when you're stuck…you need someone to give you a kick to the boo-tay. At least I do.] Obviously, you like where you’ve ended up (yay!), so this post would only confirm what I’m trying to say. That your choices and decisions have placed you in a happy spot, where you’re content to be. That’s great. Not everyone is so “lucky.”

      The phrase “ended up” is for those who DON’T like where they’ve…well…ended up. :)

      Thank you SO much for your comments. Always good to clarify my meaning, if I’ve been unclear!

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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