Life is a gift. Life is art and science. We face multiple changes, challenges, opportunities, pain and pleasure daily. Every morning we start with a blank page. Every year we begin with new intentions. You are standing at the steering wheel of your life. Your decisions and choices determine your route. Nelson Mandela was inspired by this poem. He refers to the poem as his personal favourite:
Invictus by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
It is daunting and daring to stand at the steering wheel of your life. Especially if you stand there without a roadmap or plan. Let’s unpack a roadmap and action plan that will empower and encourage you. I want to suggest you use a compass as your first tool. The compass is directing you to the 7 dimensions of your life.
Your personal compass helps you to consider how you want to steer the gift of life spiritually, mentally, vocationally, financially, family-wise, socially and physically (7 Dimensions of life).
You have a spiritual mission and purpose. Nobody is a mistake, and everybody has a purpose. It is your choice how you want to fulfil your purpose. Your purpose is not hidden or something you need to discover. You are fulfilling your mission daily. Whatever you consider being most important, of highest value and priority to you is your purpose. Use the following questions to assist you in determining your purpose or in other words what is of highest value, priority and importance to you:
- What do you really spend most of your time doing?
What do you spontaneously and without reminding spending your time on daily? Everybody spend their time mostly on their purpose. Are you a business owner and you provide employment to many? Do you offer a good life for your family through your business? Are you a full-time mom and you spend time organising your family and home? Say thank you as this is your purpose. This is how you have an impact and meaning.
- What do you spend your money on and you always find you have money for it?
Is it for your business? Is it for your family? Is it for your physical well-being? How do you serve others by what you consider worthy to spend money on? This is directing to your purpose.
- What do you focus on and you are disciplined and reliable?
What are the benefits for others and yourself with your focus, discipline and reliability? This is how you make a difference, and you offer meaning and feel purposeful.
- What do you like to talk about and you become animated and extroverted when you talk about your topics of choice?
You will do this when you are speaking in your purpose.
- What inspires you and you strive to be an inspiration to others?
It does not matter if it is inspiring others with a delicious meal, or writing a book or leading a team at work, you are encouraging while you are in your purpose.
Nobody can escape challenges and pain. Consider both positive and negative lenses
You can use the power of your mind to steer your life in the direction your heart desires. Your mind is your gift to look after and to use with responsibility. I want to introduce you to the second tool to use as you stand at the steering wheel of your life. This is the tool of equal and opposites. The tool to look at life with both lenses – both the positive and the negative lens. Nobody can escape challenges, pain, discomfort, losses. It is part of the game of life. Without a tool to deal with these, you are at a loss and can quickly end up as a victim. This surely does not feel like standing at the steering wheel of your life. Adopt the mindset that will set you free.
Learn to use the power of your mind to see both sides of every moment of your life. Acknowledge that every pain has an equal and opposite pleasure. Every challenge has equal and opposite support. Every negative has an equal and opposite positive. Every loss has an equal and opposite gain. Every stressing has an equal and opposite blessing. Look for the same and opposites in every event, emotion, every moment of your life. Doing this will guarantee that you will say “thank you”.
You have a service to offer to enhance the lives of others as well as your own. Life becomes a gift when we feel meaningful. The easiest way to feel meaningful is to serve. The way you spend most of your waking hours helping others is your “work” or your vocation. Are you a business owner? Have you ever considered how many people’s lives you are impacting through offering employment, products or service? You work for someone? Have you ever thought of the impact you have on the business and how through the ripple effect you touch the lives of others; your fellow employees, your customers or clients? Are you a full-time mom? Have you ever considered your impact on your family, your community, your city and the world? You are a gift to the world through your service, your products, your offerings.
You belong to a family. Families are the backbone of society and for most individuals the most important structure to belong to. What are you grateful to for your family? Each and every individual belonging to your family? The ones who support you and stand by you give you comfort and strength. The ones who challenge you and bring you pain, give you the opportunity to grow, and as a consequence, you are strengthened.
Celebrate the family you belong to. Celebrate the joys and the tribulations. Aristotle taught his scholars that on the border of pain and pleasure, challenge and support, you grow maximally. Both sides of the equation are necessary to make you the best version of yourself as you steer your life.
You belong to a social circle. How sad and lonely life would have been without the gift of friendships and close friends. You either count your best friends on your one hand, or you need both hands and feet to count your friends. No matter how many or few you have, honour and respect your friendships as a beautiful gift life offers you. Be the friend you wish to have. Consider your social impact and influence according to your purpose and service. You may be the one organising Xmas in July for all your friends, or you may be the one who sends an encouraging message to a friend in need. What is the gift of friendship you offer in fair exchange for the gift of friendship you receive?
Your body, your health and vitality can be perceived as either a curse or a blessing. Standing at the steering wheel of your life while considering your body as a curse for you are too fat, too thin, too short or too tall is disempowering. Taking that same position at the steering wheel of your life and choosing to look after your body, your health and your vitality are empowering. Incorporate the gift of healthy eating, exercise, sleep, mindfulness and see how your life gets filled with energy.
You may ask but how do I do it when I am sick or injured? Remember to use tool number 2 – use the power of your mind to see the equal and opposite side. I had a conversation with a woman age 76 years old who is battling with stage 4 cancer. As I helped her to see how her battle is giving her husband purpose to be there for her. It is drawing her children closer to each other as well as to her, she is taking pressure off her. She is having meaningful conversations with her loved ones as she is preparing for the final round, she saw the blessings equal to the stressing.
That brings me to the last and final tool. The tool of gratitude. Whatever you are grateful for and you say thank for, you get more to be grateful for. The more you moan and complain and feel sorry for yourself, the more you get to moan and complain and feel sorry for yourself. It is a choice. Everything is a gift. Choose to play your game of life with thankfulness. End each day with gratitude for every challenge and support, every pain and pleasure, every positive and negative. Steer your life in the direction of meaning, purpose, inspiration and gratitude.