How I foretold and determined my life. So can you.
I turned 68 yesterday. Before I took myself to the Oregon beach for a birthday treat, I found some materials I had written 26 years ago. I actually had determined then where I would be today. This is how I did it.
Before you gaslight me about how this is misguided spiritualism, let me explain.
Back in 1985, I was living in Australia, and making the occasional visa-driven return to the States so that I could go back to work in Melbourne. At the time I was spending a fair bit of my return home in California around San Diego, then still a paradise before it was effectively annexed into a suburb of Los Angeles.
It was the early days of the so-called New Age movement, a precursor of today's deeply unfortunate and badly off-track conspirituality. A time of fake gurus and channeling dolphins, sessions you might pay $100 for to hear someone intone that the dolphins are saying that we should "love each other."
Okay, collective eye roll. It was then as now, with Tarot cards and other quasi-spiritual practices becoming more popular in more overtly dangerous ways, a bit of a scam. Okay, a BIG scam, but for a few things.
One of them was a Daytimer-like calendar called the Personal Resource System or PRS that was built around a pyramid model- not a pyramid scheme- but the idea that if we set a life purpose first, which is at the top, then the pyramid's lower layers would support that purpose, rather than have life lived as a constant set of reactions and overreactions to live, culminating in Not Much.
The PRS asked us to write a Life Purpose. Not a dream, for dreams are fuzzy and have a bad habit of never coming about without a date on them. The other piece of this is that all too often we say we want money or a Great Love without understanding that often, such things depend on other people, over which we have little agency. We do have agency over ourselves, so when we write a Purpose, it pays to determine one which is in alignment with our value set.
How it worked
The base of the Pyramid was a to-do list, those daily actions you and I take, with this important proviso: those to-dos largely had to be written in support of Projects, the next level up, which support Goals, the next level up, which serve our Purpose, at the top.
Let me repeat that:
1.Purpose- how you want to be living your life, is at the top.
2. Next level: GOALs which support your Purpose.
3. Next level: Projects, which are subsets of your GOALs, which support your achieving those GOALs, which allow you to live your Purpose.
4. To-do lists, which help you complete your Projects, which are subsets of your GOALs, which allow you to live your Purpose.
Life will always and forever throw curve balls into such an elegantly simple, linear system. It sure did with me. But when you are utterly clear, and clarity is power, you find your way back, the same way an airliner gets back on course after minor corrections from headwinds. Life is full of headwinds. Those who make to their journeys never lose sight of where they are headed. That's where this simple system is so very powerful.
What was cool about this system was that it forced you and me to challenge anything we put on our daily to-do list. How does this move me towards my goals? How is this in alignment with my Purpose?
This is terrific for those of us, and my hand is up here, who have a habit of picking up shiny things all the time, which diverts me from doing what I came here to do. If we can challenge something with whether or not it serves what we said we wanted, it's a lot easier to avoid time wasting detours and projects which have nothing to do with what we really want to be and do in life.
Back in 1985 I was 32. I didn't have a Purpose yet, being ex-military, a survivor of incest and military sexual assault. I had eating disorders and battled all kinds of internal demons. But one day, as a whole group of us sat in a San Diego conference room (PRS was multi-level, natch, but short-lived), I heard words which would change my life.
The speaker, an energetic nerdish man in his fifties, was a college professor and early computer adopter. The only words I recall from his speech are the ones that I adopted as my life Purpose. He exhorted us to
Move People's Lives
In that second, I heard nothing else. I knew then, just as I know now, that it was my work to live life in a way that moved other people. What that might look like was likely to be made clear- as it has.
I printed out two small pages of purpose statements that I titled From the Heart. I carried them in my PRS, (now defunct, so I use Daytimer) for years, until at one point, I put them away. About two decades ago, my best guess. Filed in the paper tombs of so many boxes that simply got moved from place to place, life to life, until I moved to Oregon this past year. I hadn't opened those boxes since.
Until this weekend, the day I turned 68.
When I read what I had written as my statements of purpose back nearly forty years ago, I am stunned by how precisely I had predicted my future. Nearly everything I wrote back then, I have since created.
Back then, at 32, I was seriously overweight at 205, out of shape, and hated my body. I had little confidence in my abilities given my sexual assault history which I'd buried, and lived in constant fear. I could go on. You get it.
I have quietly and steadily manifested nearly every single statement over those years.
For example: the once doughy, panting girl who struggled to run three miles on the Elsternwick sidewalks off the coast of southern Australia wrote:
My body is lean, strong, muscled and powerful. I treat it with love and respect, feed it consciously and receive in return a smoothly peforming, athletic vehicle. My joy life life is expressed in every movement.
Yup. That's precisely what happened. Of course it took time and work and dedication. But these days, that's precisely what I have. To wit:
I have plenty of time each day to laugh, play, exercise, dance, sing, write, walk and be with my loved ones.
Yup. While Covid placed some restrictions on this, it most assuredly is what happened. Still is.
I create adventure, excitement, growth and inspiration in my life. I embrace all the challenges I create with joy and excitement....I continue to grow beyond my boundaries, and revel in my power.
Yup. I've written two prize-winning books, thousands of articles and launched a career- at sixty no less- as an international adventure athlete. I call myself, not without tongue firmly in cheek, a Horizon Huntress, because the harder I push myself the more adventure I want, the more boundaries, both internal and external, I want to explore.
I am already planning two big trips this year, allowing for the realities of Covid.
I didn't write that I wanted, nor did I ever wish, to be rich. I didn't write, nor did I want to be married. Those things didn't align with what mattered then and still matters to me. As long as I have adequate funds to pay my bills, eat well and pay for the travel I love, I'm happy. Being rich per se doesn't feed me. Being rich with friends who push me to be better is far more important than likes or claps or fake social media friends and approval.
As long as I am willing to give, I set myself up to receive.Being rich with love and life and adventure and being able to inspire people to get in shape does feed my soul.
Can you self determine?
I did. I strongly believe you can, too. There's nothing woo-woo about it. Nor is it particularly easy. It's hard work, all day every day doing things on your to-do list which lead to finishing projects which feeds the goals which allows you to live that life. It's work, no doubt about it.
What I learned yesterday, after punching out 120 men's pushups as my birthday gift to myself first thing in the morning, was that writing down what I wanted and how I wanted to live has enormous power. IF those things are in alignment with your value set, and IF you are willing to do the work to cause them to evolve, you may well, like I did, realize years later that you did indeed write your life into reality.
Is it magic? Well maybe. What's magic is how determined you can be to make living your life purpose a fact. Sometimes it takes time to figure out what that is, which is fine. There is no set timeline. What you and I can do at any point, however, is commit in writing to how we wish to be living our lives. If it is indeed underscored with a commitment to being of service to others, and if those statements align with your values, you have a very good shot at determining the quality of your life as well. As long as you are willing to do the work to get you there.
How will you live? What are you willing to do to live your best life?