Only You Can Change Your Circumstances

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Only You Can Change Your CircumstancesSome guys have all the luck.  Things just seem to work out for some people and not for others.  Such is life.  After all, you can’t change your circumstances… can you?

Hmm, that’s a question worth digging into – can you change your circumstances in life?

I’ve always had this weird fascination about how cool it would be to take someone from the past (like from the 1700’s or 1800’s) and bring them to the present.

Yeah, I’m a weirdo – deal with it.

But, imagine their awe at some of the technology we have today.  There’s so much we take for granted… computers really are an astounding feat.

If we just look at smartphones as one facet of technology, it’s almost unfathomable to consider all the things they allow us to do as if it’s not a big deal.

Think about it.  If I rattle off, “Ok, Google – take me home”, consider everything that actually happens on this little device:

  • My phone recognizes it was me talking and not someone else
  • The screen turns on by itself
  • It understands what I’m saying
  • It determines where I’m currently located (GPS is awesome in and of itself!)
  • Google then calculates directions to my house… and not just any directions, but the “optimal” path to get there
  • Google Maps opens and gives me turn-by-turn directions to get there

All of this happens in like 15 seconds… it’s truly a marvel.  And that’s just one piece of how sophisticated these little devices are.  I’ve worked in IT for almost 20 years and still find this kind of stuff incredible.

To me, having someone from over 200 years ago witness this would be truly fascinating and fun to see.

Or what if you could invite someone from a primitive indigenous tribe currently living in the jungles of Indonesia or Peru to come to civilization for a little bit.  We could then let them see some of the other things we really take for granted.

Even indoor plumbing is something that would probably take them aback.  Wash your hands – no problem – which sink do want to use?

Need to bathe?  No need to head to the river – we do that right at our house.  What temperature do you want it?  We can change it in an instant.

My Wife Trusts Me Too Much - Finances and Marriage - Onto the future!!

Then, of course, there’s the toilet – a miracle in its own right.

I think the excitement of someone realizing there’s something more out there would be astounding and awesome to see.

Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan of the Back to the Future movies and watch them every single time they show up on TV – commercials and all.  That’s pretty strange since I own the media and could really watch them commercial-free anytime I want… eh, whatever.


Change your circumstances

Only You Can Change Your Circumstances - Change your circumstances
Which way to go?

So what’s the point of all this jabbering about my crazy fantasies??!

The point is that you can’t change where and when you were born, but you can change your circumstances in life.

When I was in high school, I got to a point in my life where I wholeheartedly contemplated suicide.  Looking back, there wasn’t really a specific reason, just overall depression.

I’ve struggled with this in the past and, combined with being a stupid teenager, this was one of my lowest points.

But then one day when I was just 15, I did something interesting… I thought about my options.  And believe me, I really thought hard about each of them:

1) Continue on the path I’m on and stay miserable
2) End it all… even though I’d lose those high points of life as well
3) Change things

That third option intrigued me.

Why not just change what I didn’t like in life?

Instead of taking life so seriously, why not just enjoy it?  After all, is there really much in life that we can’t laugh at?

If this didn’t work, I could always go back to plan B… hmm, this was interesting.

And, who cares if people don’t like it?  This could be an opportunity to be more about the person I wanted to be.

I liked this idea.

So I made a change.  I completely changed my attitude toward life at that moment.  I was able to have more fun and try things I never would have before.  I stopped stressing about all the little things that didn’t matter.

It was awesome.

And it still is today. That’s the way I move through life – even though I’m still a hard worker, I try not to take life so seriously and really I just laugh and joke about everything.  It really makes life worth living.

Only you can change your circumstances.


The cards you’re dealt

Only You Can Change Your Circumstances - The cards you're dealt
This looks like my typical poker hand…

People, in general, interest me.  I’m a pretty outgoing guy so I tend to talk to folks when the opportunity arises – in line at the store, waiting to order a beer at the bar, etc.  Don’t worry, I can tell with the first sentence if someone doesn’t want to talk and I then let it die off.

Sometimes when I’m talking to people I don’t know as well though, like neighbors from down the street or friends of friends at a party, the conversations get a little more fun since there’s more time.  I like to inquire and ask questions.  I want to hear their story.  I like to know what’s going on in their heads.

I almost wonder if I’m coming off as an interviewer.  But that’s Ok.  Most people don’t see this as an interrogation of sorts because they don’t want to hear about your life – they want to talk about themselves.

The conversations are obviously all over the map, but you should hear some of the things I do.  I’m careful not to ever voice judgment and I definitely don’t make all the right decisions, but hoofa!

The most curious part of many of the discussions tends to be with those having some struggles.  Like I said, folks like to talk – especially about their problems.

And when I listen to these problems, there’s a lot of blame… usually at everyone and everything but themselves.  I’m far from a genius (though I play one on TV), but it takes a lot for me to just smile and nod my head.

I don’t like my job, but continue doing the same thing every day.

I got passed for a promotion, but it should have been me… oh, well.

We had to replace our roof and we’re going to have to figure out how to afford it… anyway, did you see my new SUV?

In almost every story I hear, the solution seems obvious and involves just changing a few things on their end.  I usually just keep my mouth shut though because people don’t want to hear that – they usually want sympathy… my story’s different – I deserve this or that!  Someone should help me.

This might be hard to hear, but if you’re struggling with something in life, most problems can be fixed in only one way – by you making some changes to fix ’em.  You can’t wait for luck to come your way – you need to make your own luck.

Only you can change your circumstances.


When life gives you lemons…

Only You Can Change Your Circumstances - When life gives you lemons...
Time to make some lemonade!

We all know the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, but how many of us really take that to heart?

Not enough of us, that’s for sure.

Most successful people in life do one thing different from those who focus on their “bad luck.”  They don’t simply accept the situation as is and instead make changes for the better.

Since we talked about how awesome Back to the Future is, let’s look at the famous actor from that movie series and a zillion other classics – Michael J. Fox.  He’s a perfect example of someone who got served his share of lemons and made lemonade.

Here’s a guy who’s had everything going for him and then ends up finding out he’s got Parkinson’s – an incurable pain-in-the-@#$ disease.  I could only imagine being at the top of your game and then hearing that diagnosis.

So that’s it, right?  Do not pass go – do not collect $200?  Time to sit and sulk about how much you got screwed until the day you die, right?

Not in the case of Michael J. Fox – this guy’s the definition of optimism.  He basically turned things around and went down a completely different path.  Yeah, acting turned out to be something he couldn’t really focus much on anymore.

Instead, he took the bull by the horns and helped formed one of the most well-known charities out there – the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  He’s spent the latter half of his life becoming the face of this disease in an effort to help raise awareness and money to find a cure.

In the meantime, he’s changed more lives with every step of the way.  If you’re looking for a great inspirational read, Fox’s book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, should be on your list – excellent read!

If you’re ever suffering from the “woe is me” syndrome, think of Michael J. Fox – you can turn anything around to make your life better.

Inspirational quotes to change your life

Only I can change my life.  No one can do it for me.  ― Carol Burnett

It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.  ― Randy Pausch

Change your thoughts and you change your world.  ― Norman Vincent Peale

Life isn’t fair, so you have to play the best game you can with the cards you’re dealt.  ― Marta Acosta

If you’re struggling in life, whether for financial reasons or any other, realize that only you have the power to change your circumstances and your life.

Things might look seem bad, but it’s up to you to take a step back and figure out how to fix things.  You can lean on others to help give you ideas on how to improve your situation, but you alone need to take the steps to make it happen.

Only you can change your circumstances.


Would you agree that you can change your circumstances in life even though it might be a lot of work?


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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10 thoughts on “Only You Can Change Your Circumstances”

  1. Jim, thanks for sharing a very personal story. This relates a truly human story that I hope many read.

    We have a local celebrity in town nicknamed Mattress Mack (google him). He has a saying “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Great words to live by.

    People can DEFINITELY change their circumstances and it all starts with them.

    I am seeing this first hand at the non-profit I work at. There are youth we serve that come from very tough backgrounds and environments. Their first step is just coming into our program to offer them a safe haven. As they get more into the program we teach them that they can change – but it has to be started from within. They have to believe in themselves as the first step.

    1. Those last couple of paragraphs sums up everything I was hoping to say with this post. Boy, you really could have saved me a lot of writing if you had just sent that over to me before I wrote it! 😉

      — Jim

  2. Jim, great post and great insight- I often ask people what they think their great-great-great-great grandparents would find so amazing about the world we live in today ( in the US) compared to their world of 100-150 years ago. It’s not TV, the Internet, planes or even medicine.IMHO it is something more basic than that- it is:

    “whoa- y’all get 3 meals a day……every day”

  3. Great post Jim. It reminded me of this war veteran I got to know at one point in my life.

    He lost an arm all the way up to around the elbow in the war. It was a pretty terrible disability. But you know what? He didn’t sit around and wallow in self pity.

    The man eventually became the CEO of a fortune 500 company.

    It’s a nice reminder to not dwell on my own issues, but to get to work instead.

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