Even if you lack confidence in your writing skills, you should feel a certain fearlessness when authoring your life story. There is no one who knows you better than you. When you encounter hard choices – choices that may impact you for years to come – like what career to pursue, who to marry, or where to live – your values and past experiences are relied upon to steer you in the “right” direction.
In the past, critical choices may have caused you to turn to trusted advisers or friends to help you weigh your alternatives. However, I recommend looking deeply inside yourself when you are confounded by a choice. After all, you’re the one who has to live with yourself and your decision. It is tempting to rely on others for insight and advice when critical choices present themselves, but doing so is like giving up authorship of your life.
People who believe that they have control over their life are said to have an “internal locus of control” while those who believe that their life is controlled by fate or circumstances have an “external locus of control.” Organizational behavior experts have found that these terms are important in the workplace because employees with an internal locus of control are more apt to be more mature, self-reliant, and responsible.
Relying upon others to make hard choices for you is somewhere in the middle of this continuum and should be referred to as “other-based locus of control.” I must admit that frequently I find myself guilty of “other-based locus of control.” I enjoy input from others related to my future plans despite logically knowing I do not want to relinquish control of my destiny.
The quote below from philosopher Ruth Chang’s TedTalk beautifully captures how hard choices need to be embraced – independently and fully. When faced with hard choices, Chang claims we need to say to ourselves:
“Here’s where I stand. Here’s who I am. I am for banking. I am for chocolate donuts. This response in (the face of) hard choices is a rational response, but it’s not dictated by reasons given to us. Rather, it’s supported by reasons created by us. When we create reasons for ourselves to become this kind of person rather than that, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are. You might say that we become the authors of our own lives.”
If we take ownership of our choices, if we are able to control our lives in the ways that we independently see fit, it makes sense that we will become more mature, self-reliant, and responsible at work and at home. And isn’t that something that’s good for everyone?