In these troubled economic times, when everywhere you look there’s a rumbling of great uncertainty, I think we should all take a pause (and a deep breath) to think about our lives.
Are we moving in the direction we want to be? When things happen in the world that seems so far beyond our individual control, it can feel unsettling. And even though we think we are the masters of our own success, watching the news these days can chip away at our beliefs.
Even in tough economic times, you get to decide how to respond to certain conditions, opportunities, and outcomes—both good and bad.
While I don’t claim to be an economist, I do know one important fact. The economy is the same for everyone, it’s how you respond to it that determines how you feel about it.
The basic idea is that every outcome you experience in life (whether it’s success or failure, wealth or poverty, wellness or illness, intimacy or estrangement, joy or frustration) is the result of how you have responded to an earlier event (or events) in your life.
If you don’t like the outcomes you are currently experiencing, there are two basic choices you can make:
Choice #1: You can blame the event (E) for your lack of results (O).
In other words, you can blame the economy, the weather, the lack of money, lack of education, racism, gender bias, the current administration in Washington, your wife or husband, your boss’s attitude, the lack of support, and so on.
No doubt all these factors exist, but if they were the deciding factor, nobody would ever succeed.
For every reason it’s not possible, there are hundreds of people who have faced the same circumstances and have succeeded. It’s not the external conditions and circumstances that stop us — it’s us!
We think limiting thoughts and engage in self-defeating behaviors. We defend our self-destructive habits (such as drinking and smoking) with indefensible logic.
We ignore useful feedback, fail to continuously educate ourselves and learn new skills, waste time on the trivial aspects of our lives, engage in idle gossip, eat unhealthy food, fail to exercise, spend more than we make, fail to tell the truth, don’t ask for what we want, and then wonder why our lives aren’t working.
Choice #2: You can instead simply change your responses (R) to the events (E) until you get the outcomes (O) you want.
You can change your thinking, change your communication, change the pictures you hold in your head (your images of the world) and you can change your behavior (the things you do.) That’s all you really have any control over anyway.
Unfortunately, most of us are so engrained our habits that we never change our behavior.
We get stuck in our conditioned responses-to our spouses and children, to our colleagues at work, to our customers and our clients, to our students, and to the world at large. You have to gain control of your thoughts, your images, your dreams and daydreams, and your behavior.
Everything you think, say, and do should to become intentional and aligned with your purpose, your values, and your goals.
If you don’t like your outcomes, change your responses!
Here’s an example of how this works…
There was a large earthquake in Northern California.
Two days later CNN interviewed people commuting to work. The earthquake had damaged one of the main freeways leading into the city. Traffic was at a standstill, and what was normally a 1-hour drive had become a 2-3 hour drive.
The CNN reporter knocked on the window of one of the cars stuck in traffic and asked the driver how he was doing.
He responded, angrily, “I hate California. First there were fires, then floods, and now an earthquake! No matter what time I leave in the morning, I’m late for work. I can’t believe it!”
Then the Reporter knocked on the window of the car behind him and asked the driver the same question. This driver was all smiles.
He replied “It’s no problem. I left my house at five am. I don’t think under the circumstances my boss can ask for more than that. I have lots of music and Spanish-language tapes with me. I’ve got my cell phone. Coffee in a thermos, my lunch-I even have a book to read. I’m fine.”
Now, if the earthquake or the traffic were really the deciding variables, then everyone should have been angry. But everyone wasn’t.
It was their individual response to the traffic that gave them their particular outcome. It was thinking negative thoughts or positive thoughts, leaving the house prepared or leaving the house unprepared that made the difference. It was all a matter of attitude and behavior that created their completely different experiences.
If we all experience the same EVENT, the OUTCOME you get will be totally dependent upon your RESPONSE to the situation.
If you want to take control of how you respond to life, you’ll start noticing that your outcomes will be more along the lines of what you have always hoped.
Remember, you control your destiny so make it a fantastic one!