By Sondra Whitt
“Life is an unfailing boomerang,” says Denis Waitley. “What we throw out will come back full circle.” He’s just describing the laws of “sowing and reaping” or “cause and effect” that tell us that we get out of life what we put into it. So, it’s up to us to make sure the efforts we send out are going to return to us the results we want. Some good questions to ask ourselves are, “What results do I really want? Why? What results am I getting now? Why? What do I need to change to get different results?” We have so many options of which to weigh the pros and cons that sometimes it can get pretty confusing. But we’re fortunate to have that kind of freedom. Interviews with returning prisoners of war reveal that the thing they missed most of all was their freedom of choice.
Also, research shows that the happiest, most well-adjusted people are those who strongly believe that they are in control of their lives, not anyone else and not circumstances. Therefore, they take the responsibility for getting out of life what they want. They’re able to respond to what happens to them more objectively, they deal with change and set-backs with less fear, and they learn from past mistakes. And, instead of focusing on the bad things that could happen, they take calculated risks instead of being immobilized by fear.
Of course, we have the freedom and the right to choose not to change. After all, no one can make us change if we don’t want to. We can stay just like we are now, we can tolerate the same boring job, we can stay in the same unhappy relationships, and we can choose to float through life, sometimes just existing, living our lives based purely on finding pleasure and/or avoiding pain. Or we can choose another way — a better way.
“There are two primary choices in our lives,” says Waitley, “to accept conditions as they exist or to accept the responsibility for changing them.” He says that in order to be secure emotionally, we have to develop two capabilities: the ability to live with uncertainty and the ability to delay immediate gratification in favor of long-range goals. We can let life happen to us or make it happen, seek pleasure or seek purposeful results, try our best to escape the daily grind through activity or work towards our goals. But fear of what could happen if we step out and take a risk can be a big hurdle to overcome. “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new,” says author and speaker Alan Cohen. “But there is not real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” Stepping out in faith and making a change doesn’t guarantee we won’t experience some fear and anxiety. It also doesn’t mean that the change has to be permanent. We can always make another change — and then another, if that’s what it takes, to get us where we want to go.
Jim started Jim Whitt and Company in 1988, which became Whitt Enterprises, which eventually evolved into Purpose Unlimited. There have been a lot of changes through the years, a lot of uncertainty, and some anxiety at times. It hasn’t been easy. I talk to people all the time who are unhappy in jobs or relationships but continue in them. Staying in them isn’t easy either. Neither is making a decision to do something different and it shouldn’t be taken lightly or made impulsively. We just need to remember, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing that there’s always another choice. The hardest step is that first one. “Go as far as you can see,” advises Zig Ziglar, “and when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”