You Must Do What You Alone Can Do

Thoughts and Aspirations

No one else can tell you what you want. It doesn’t matter what others say you should want, especially when they don’t have what they want— if they even know what it is! Your unique life is yours alone, an idea that is both liberating and frightening in its implications. You have to decide for yourself what you want, and the less you allow others to influence that decision, the more your life will be your own.

Your ambition is also yours alone: you decide who you want to be and what you want to accomplish. There is no shortage of people who will tell you who you should be, generally based on who they want to be and what they want to create. Still, once you recognize the person that comes after the person you are now, it can be helpful to find a model, even though the paths you blaze will be different.

There is nothing more important than becoming who you are, but you have to do it yourself.

As a child, you need that kind of direction: your parents and teachers will tell you what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how it must be done. When you start working, your managers and supervisors likewise provide you with direction and goals. But as you mature, you will learn that your goals belong to you alone. Others will still give you goals, but you are free to replace them with your own—or even use them as stepping stones to what you really want.

Beliefs largely work the same way. Most of what you believe today comes from other people: some who love and care about you, but also some who want to influence you for selfish reasons. Think of your beliefs like software programs. You can choose to reject the ideas that others have installed, and you can uninstall the viruses that find their way into your thinking.

Exercising your free will this way is only part of your task: you are also obligated to discern for yourself what you believe and how you perceive the world.

Pursuing Your Own Success

Most definitions of success are partial, particularly given how many people made lots of money while failing in most other areas. Fame, as the long list of celebrity suicides attests, doesn’t guarantee a successful life, either. You cannot gauge success by someone’s car, house, or even their pictures on Instagram. Success is individual, which means you have to do the work to define and pursue it meaningfully.

Are you really living or just existing until you stop? As Dylan put it, “he not busy being born is busy dying.” Or as Andy said before leaving Shawshank for Mexico, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” All the words in the world are worth absolutely nothing unless and until you go out and do something.

You won’t find life on a screen somewhere—all they do is dominate your time and infect your mind with negative and limiting beliefs. But it’s out there . . . somewhere.

You can only measure your desires, your ambitions, your goals, and your aspirations by the standard you set for yourself. Some may suggest that you are working too hard, whether out of concern or thinly veiled jealousy. Others might say you aren’t working hard enough, mostly with good intentions. In the end, your reality will show whether you are working hard enough to have the life you want.

Taking Account

Radical personal accountability means accepting that you are responsible for your life and your results. If they are not what you want them to be, you are the one responsible for doing something different. And that thing you need to change? It’s almost certainly something you have hidden from yourself, something you don’t even want to look at because the implications are so great.

Once you accept that no one can do for you what you need to do, you are confronted with the reality that you have to do these things for yourself. There is no reason to wait, as no one is coming to rescue you from your responsibility to yourself and your own life.

Filed under: Mindset

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