The first step toward mastering your destiny is simply acknowledging that it’s possible to exert control over your life. You must accept, as we’ve discussed, that you have the power to exert that control. Unfortunately, few people really live in this way.

For many, the word destiny conveys a curious, even mystical concept. The dictionary calls destiny “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible course of events.” It is a definition that appears to have many interpretations.

For some, destiny means life is controlled, even predestined, by external forces over which individuals have little or no say.

The ancient Greeks, for example, believed that a person’s future was determined by three goddesses called the Fates, or the Destinies. The first Fate, Clotho, spun the thread of life. The second, Lachesis, measured the length of the thread so that the last Fate, Atropos, would know where to cut the thread to end the individual’s life.

Since Ancient Greece, people have found reason to believe sincerely that their individual destinies were determined by such other disparate forces as gods, astrological signs, spirits, numerology, and even aliens from outer space! For some, divine predestination is an important religious belief. Some are convinced that individual fate is determined solely by either heredity or environment or both.

The obvious problems with such preemptive prescriptions for life is that they not only relieve individuals of the responsibility for their actions, but they rob us of incentive and initiative to live up to our potential. It reminds me of what I call the “conveyor belt” philosophy of life. With this outlook, we merely have to step on at the beginning and be carried through life without initiative or interruption to a predetermined destination. It may be safe, it may be secure and undemanding, but it leaves little room for creativity, individual achievement, or opportunities to enjoy the ride.

Let’s look again at the definition of the word destiny. It says that destiny is “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible course of events.” What’s missing here, of course, is the who! Who predetermines the course of events? I certainly don’t mean to fault or take issue with those who, by religious teaching or tradition do ascribe a part of the direction or influence for their lives to a higher power. But I don’t think any of us can afford to abdicate complete responsibility for what happens in our lives.

If we’re to progress, if we’re to succeed, if we’re to reap the rewards of our efforts, each of us has to be the one who predetermines and makes inevitable or irresistible the course of events in our lives.
Consider Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” We have to give him credit for recognizing the inevitable consequences of his old ways. In the end of the story, he leaves us with the timeless and uplifting lesson that not only do we each predetermine our individual fate in life, but we each have the power, through our own actions, to shape a more rewarding destiny for ourselves at any time.

These reflections on individual destiny always bring me back to the familiar but reliable saying that God, or whatever higher power you prefer, always helps those who help themselves. I don’t believe anyone is entered as a favorite in the human race. Certainly some people start out with more than others, but everyone is given opportunities to advance in the world, and everyone has the free will and power to act on those opportunities. We all are empowered to reach our highest potential. Not to do so is a waste of the gifts of talent and free will that are our natural birthright.

So I urge you to define your destiny as a self-charted path to the successful future that you’ve decided to create. Experience the full potential of your destiny by exercising the power of your talents and the free will you have been given. Consider your destiny as a happy, exciting, and fulfilling journey that is always in progress, not just a final destination. It is the sum total of your well-designed life. It is the highest expression of what you believe. Your destiny is predetermined by you and is always subject to change for the better.

You can look at your life in two ways: that your destiny is something that happens to you, or that it’s something you actively create. For me, the choice here is obvious. Become the architect of your own life. Use your power over your destiny to design your future and shape the world around you. Be the one who makes things happen!