We don’t live in a perfect world. Not by a long shot. There are a lot of things that just aren’t fair. But when in the history of ever, has a government or societal institution swept in to vastly improve the day to day lives of individuals?
They tried it in the 20th century — turns out utopia only looks good on paper. Even the major civil-rights changes made by the government were the result of intransigent groups of people who wouldn’t take no for an answer (thank you suffragettes and civil rights activists).
Even so, when it comes to improving your life, nobody can do that for you, not even me. I could only give you suggestions. It’s always on you.
I wish things were different, actually. I wouldn’t mind if there were some benevolent entity that could come in and double your income, fix your relationships, get you to perfect health, and inject a sense of gratitude and contentment into your soul. But that’s not how it works.
You have your life. You have a starting point. And then you have the decisions you make after that starting point, all of which are on you.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
A lot of self-help gurus like to say stuff like, “Your decisions shape your life and every decision you make is a choice only you have control over!” They make it seem like choices are always 50/50 — that it’s easy to make the most beneficial decision possible. This just isn’t true.
In theory, after all of the robots come in and take away manufacturing jobs, it would be wise for former factory workers to take up computer programming and become software engineers. But how realistic is that? Not very.
In your case, I want to make it clear that I know making a decision to improve your life isn’t always as easy as it appears on the surface.
If you’re a single mom with two kids working retail, it’s not so simple for you to take night classes after work.
First, who’s going to watch your kids?
Second, you’re a single mother with two kids and you’re probably very very tired, like, all of the time.
Last, you have a lot of emotions and responsibility to deal with on a daily basis. Adding something like school on top of that is asking a lot.
Or maybe you’re doing ok. Upper-middle-class. Nice house (albeit a little too much debt).
You want to become an artist, so you should just quit your job and paint, right? Well no.
You still have to take care of your family — Jane’s starting University next year and Joe wants a used car for his sixteenth birthday. So you could do your art on the side. Yes, but the prospect of building a side-business for anyone with a 9 to 5, regardless of money, is still time-consuming and difficult.
Whatever your current situation is, I want you to know. I know the tips I’m going to give you are a lot to ask. But I’m going to ask anyway. Why? Because that’s what self-improvement is. That’s what following a dream is. Going through pain to do something worthwhile and meaningful.
You are where you are. I can’t change that. Neither can the government or your employer — at least not in a way that’s going to have a profound impact. Nope. It’s just you are your potential future, all of which will be shaped from what you decide to do next. And not just once, but every single moment for the rest of your life.
That’s a lot of weight, huh? I’m trying to pack it dense and give it all to you up front. Straight, no chaser. The process of taking full ownership of your life isn’t easy. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But the hard is what makes it good. Being able to say “I’m in control of my life,” — and mean it — is one of the most powerful feelings you can ever fathom.
I’m separating this out into a single sentence to make it perfectly clear:
No one is coming to save you.
written by Ayodeji The author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You.