Your identity was not offered for your choosing. In other words, a special destiny was prepared for you. But you were also given freedom and creativity to go beyond the given, to make a new set of relationships and to forge an ever new identity, inclusive of the old but not limited to it.
Destiny sets the outer frame of experience and life; freedom finds and fills its inner form.
. . .
Can you take a breather for a second? Put away your side-hustle and ask yourself this one question:
Do I have a destiny?
There are only three possible responses to this question: yes, no, or I don’t know.
If you’re curious, I believe I do have a destiny (more on that in a bit). But it doesn’t matter. Actually, your response doesn’t matter either. Because destiny can easily be replaced with these three simple facts:
- You were born at a certain moment in time
- You are unique in that no one exactly like you before existed and no one exactly like you will ever exist again
- You will die at a certain moment in time
This is the framework of your life. What matters is what you fill it with.
I Like How The Irish Think
John O’Donohue is a late Irish poet whose book, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom has been a great source of inspiration for me over the past few years. (I’m half Irish if you haven’t noticed by my name.)
The quote at the beginning of this post caught my eye recently and it got me thinking. I have goals, I have dreams, but do I have a destiny?
Many of you know my goal is to leave the corporate world and venture into self-employment. When that day comes it will be a major accomplishment in my life. But it certainly can’t be the pinnacle.
After picking up Anam Cara, I realized I haven’t taken the time to reflect on how I want my entire life to map out. Or as O’Donohue puts it, how do I want to fill up my life’s inner form?
Instead, I only focused on the small picture of hitting my goal and neglected the big picture.
My neglect resulted in an overstressed, overworked, and out-of-touch shell of a man. Important relationships and aspects of my life suffered.
All because I ignored my destiny and didn’t fill my life with the things that actually mattered – like health, family, and leisure.
What’s the point of working hard to achieve a small goal if it distracts you from your destiny?
I lost my rhythm and ended up living a mediocre life.
Avoiding The Mediocre Life
I’ve written before about the importance of building a foundation before going after your dream. O’Donohue’s statement about destiny forming the outer frame of your life is essentially the same.
If you ignore your destiny/frame/potential, you will struggle.
O’Donohue later adds:
If you can awaken this sense of destiny, you come into rhythm with your life. You fall out of rhythm when you renege on your potential and talent, when you settle for the mediocre as a refuge from the call.
When you lose rhythm, your life becomes wearyingly deliberate or anonymously automatic.
Do you know why so many employees are disengaged at work? It’s because their Day-to-Day snuffs out their “potential and talent” and replaces it with “anonymously automatic” tasks.
Even our lives outside of work have become “mediocre” at best. Why? Because we are all afraid of accepting the three facts I mentioned above.
You were born. You are unique. You will die.
If you don’t believe in destiny, you still have a framework to operate within and fill it to the fullest. There’s no excuse to ignore it any longer.
Don’t ask How can I live a fulfilling life? Ask yourself How full can I fill life?