By nature we are curious people, and we want to be able to understand everything that we can. We interpret the world around us based on our experiences from our past, friends and families.
And we tend to give meaning to just about everything. Look at all the meaning that you have assigned to your life – all the stuff that you have made up about yourself, your circumstances, and other people. Now, let me be clear… I certainly do not mean to imply that your circumstances – the facts and situations in your life – are made up.
What I’m talking about is the meaning we have given these facts and circumstances. We can do such a disservice to ourselves by assigning meaning that does not support or make us feel very good.
We are meaning givers – it is human nature. Now here’s the deal: The meaning we give something is a choice that we get to make. Let me share a couple of examples so that you see what I really mean (pun intended!).
I turned 58 last month. And as a 58 year-old man, I’ve decided that I’m behind with what I want to accomplish – with my career, my income, my retirement account, I could go on and on. There are times that I even think, “It’s too late – I’ll never reach my potential.” Notice how both of these ideas, I’m behind and It’s too late for me to reach my potential are both made up. I have given intense meaning to turning 58 that totally makes me feel bad about myself – wow, how yucky is that?!
I’ve made up that for me to truly make it at the level I want to make it in this world, and to have the impact I want to have, that it’s too late. I’ve run out of time.
Now even as I say this, it’s fascinating to notice that I don’t know where this idea came from. I totally made it up! What’s important is that I’m aware that I’ve made it up.
Age is an easy place to hang our hats on keeping us stopped. “I can’t do that, I’m too old! Someone half my age can do that better and faster than me!” And yet, many people have had true success in their latter years of life. To name just two:
1). Louise Hay started Hay House when she was 60 years old. Today, Hay House is the largest publisher of self-help, inspirational and transformational books and products in the world. Louise is now 90 and still active in running her company. Talk about inspiring!
2). Christopher Plummer, at age 82, won an Oscar and became the oldest winner in any acting category for his performance in Beginners.
Knowing that the meaning we give something is made up – we now get to choose a different meaning that may serve us better.
Try this one on for size… “My 58 years have given me the perfect amount of life experience to now be very clear about what message I am here to deliver in this lifetime.” This makes me smile and gives me a sense of pride and joy. It even motivates me. As I say it out loud, there’s more energy and excitement about what I want to create next.
Here’s another example… I’ve made it up that I’ve got to work really hard to be successful. And that means I need to work at least 60 hours a week, deliver back-to-back workshops and keynotes, and travel nonstop around the globe.
This just makes me tired!
Hard Work = Success is an equation that I’ve created that does not serve me. A new equation might be… the quality of my work matters more than the quantity of my work. Even as I say this, I find myself looking in the direction of doing work that matters to me versus just doing work that may not actually assist me toward my goals.
Notice what you’ve made up.
Take a good, hard look at yourself, and see what you’ve made up about yourself. Take the time to discover what some of your beliefs are that no longer serve you. What are the inherited ideas that you’ve been carrying around that no longer apply to your life?
Create a list for yourself.
Your job is to take a look at your list and decide which things really serve you and also decide which things really don’t serve you. And then ask yourself these questions:
What is the meaning I want to assign this thing in my life now? What do I want to make up now?
As you become conscious of what you’re making up – and what you’re not – clarity will begin to occur. And where there is clarity, there is choice.
It is within your power and consciousness to decide.