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LIVING LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS

Psalm 127:1

“The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings.” ~ Henri Frederic Amiel.

Are you uncomfortable about your job? Do you detest waking up Monday mornings for work? Is your job stressful to you? Do you find life to be meaningless? Are you always scared of being fired or downsized from your job? Does your job seem like a treadmill with endless tracks ahead of you? Have you come to a dead end at your job or life with no desire for what you are currently doing? Are you living at the mercy of someone? Is the stability of your job or life dependent on someone’s decision? Is someone calling the final shots in your life? If you answer yes to any of the above questions then you are not living life on your own terms. In other words, you are not in your destined domain (calling, purpose, or placement) in life. Only a few people step into their calling or purpose right from birth. The rest of us have to diligently discover and develop our calling, gifts and abilities in life while transitioning from our jobs (professions) to our work (calling). As a matter of fact, this is also where most of us either come to a standstill, get frustrated, or feel dejected. If you really want to have a lasting impact in life in this season and the approaching ones, then you have to resolve to take life on by living it on your own terms!

According to a recent study done in America, over half of the population is dissatisfied with their jobs in spite of working in the world’s most powerful economy. One research mentioned that “Although a certain amount of dissatisfaction with one’s job is to be expected, the breadth of dissatisfaction is somewhat unsettling, since it carries over from what attracts employees to a job to what keeps them motivated and productive on the job.” If money and fame gives satisfaction in life, Hollywood actors and actresses would have been the happiest people on earth and they would never be on drugs, behave irresponsibly, or even commit suicide. The solution to this quandary is in living life on your own terms: doing something you were born and anointed to do by God to bring glory to His name. Part of the reasons most people are frustrated on their jobs and in life is because when God created humanity, He gave us dominion (domain, power, control, and mastering) in a specific department in life (Genesis 1:26) and hence our inability to identify and pursue that over which we have dominion makes us unsettled. That is to say, every human being has his/her domain within which to rule, manage, and administrate through his/her gifts, callings, and purpose in life that he/she must identify and pursue.

See, the command was to have dominion over every living thing excluding fellow mankind. Hence, anytime you find yourself being controlled, manipulated, managed, or administrated by your fellow human being, you get frustrated and dejected because that wasn’t how you were created to function. Even little kids dislike being controlled or restrained. The Fall of mankind and our depravity, also plays a big role in everything we experience now but since we are redeemed (bought back) and reconciled (reinstated) to our former position in God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and our belief in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can now exercise the authority given to us before the Fall of mankind. This is the whole essence of Salvation and being Born Again. People who really discover, develop, and deploy their gifts in this life, most often, live life on their own terms. I say most often because “If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap” (Psalm 127:1, MSG). Success without God is not a good success!

A young man nick-named Sly from a very poor family, experienced complications during birth causing the lower left side of his face to be paralyzed. Parts of his tongue, lip and chin were deformed as well, giving him a snarling look and a slurred manner of speaking. However, he resolved to live life on his own terms. Sly was raised in an area in New York known as Hell’s Kitchen, and as a child bounced from one foster home to another because of the poverty and bad marriage of his parents. His oddly paralyzed face and troubled history made him a loner among his classmates. At school, Sly most of the time received suspensions for his frequent fights, poor grades, and behavioral issues. After years of hardship on the streets of New York, Sly eventually decided to further his education at the American College of Switzerland and the University of Miami, aiming to obtain a B.A. degree in Drama. In the process of time, he decided this path was not for him and left for New York even before graduation to pursue an acting career. In New York, Sly was met with countless failures, disappointments, rejections, and he became frustrated with life.

One winter afternoon, while walking on the cold streets of New York City, he wandered into the local library to warm up. He began scanning through the classic books of renowned writers. After that day, he became inspired to persist with his screenplays and various writings, which had previously yielded no success.

In 1975, Sly saw the boxing fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner. In that fight, Wepner who was the underdog and had no real chance of winning was getting totally slaughtered but kept on persisting and coming back for more. That night, Sly received an inspiration from the underdog fighter and wrote 24 hours straight—penning down a script about the fight. After completing the script, he tried selling the screenplay with the intention of playing the lead role but was faced with enormous rejections. Sly, who was persistent on living life on his own terms, insisted that he must play the lead role in the film else he wouldn’t sell the script.

Producers were not willing to take a chance on him in this role because he was completely unknown, and they wanted a celebrity star. He was told he was not an actor but a writer, but he disagreed and replied, “I am an actor.” He declined an offer of over $100,000 to allow someone else play the lead role in spite of being financially bankrupt. The producers kept increasing the offer just so Sly would sell them the script without playing the part. They ultimately offered him $400,000 and he still declined. He insisted that he was an actor and that was it; there was no compromise. Finally, they acquiesced to Sly’s proposal but offered him a paltry $25,000, which they could afford to gamble on him as a lead role; but to their surprise, Sly’s film, Rocky became a global commercial success and an Oscar winner. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards in all, and went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing. The film series of Rocky has grossed more than $1.25 billion at the worldwide box office and this young, poor kid is the legendary Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone. Sly is among Hollywood’s highest paid actors today because he determined to live life on his own terms even when he was not popular, favorable, and realistic.

See! Mankind was created as freewill agents with the power of volition. Hence, anytime we find ourselves living at the mercy of someone, we inevitably become perturbed and dispirited. Someone once said, “I’d rather die on my own terms than live on another’s.”

We all came into this world carrying precious and valuable gifts wrapped and parceled; intended to take care of you and the world at large, and it is highly in demand in today’s society but most of us choose not to open those gifts deposited within us. It is sad to say, most people would go back to eternity with all their parcels untouched. Living life on your own terms means, you are valuable to life and when you are valuable, people would dig for you as they would for diamond, seek for you like gold, hold you in high esteem like a precious gem, and scramble over you like an oil well. It makes no difference working for someone or for yourself but when you bring valuable contribution to any environment, you are handled with distinction and honor.

Despite complications during his birth and the subsequent physical challenges, deprivation, disappointments, and even though he came from a broken home, Sly chose to hold his head high in life and settle for nothing but the best. Don’t get me wrong—Sylvester Stallone worked numerous menial jobs while working on his dream to become an actor. Therefore, don’t sit down idling all in the name of waiting for the right opportunity. You could work any kind of Job in life and still live life on your own terms. You just have to know your value: be excellent (doing your best at all times), and be diligent where you are while working on your future (where you are going). The following are few suggestive steps to help you live life on your own terms:

  • Value Your Experiences – Life’s experiences (hurt, pain, disappointments, etc.) don’t come to make us bitter but better. Yes, it could be hurtful, painful, and disappointing, but you can either use it to propel yourself into the future or as an excuse to remain in the past. I challenge you to value your experiences, learn from them, and capitalize on them to advance into your destiny. It’s not what happens to us in life that affects us, it’s our reaction to what happened that would determine the outcome. British politician and statesman, Winston Churchill believed that “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
  • Confidence (Believe In Yourself) – Self-belief is one of the powerful elements in the pursuit of our dreams and purposes in life. It’s extremely vital that you believe in yourself, your gifts, abilities, calling, dreams, purpose, and talents because you would come across people who would feel duty-bound to tear you or your dreams down out of ignorance, greed, resentment, or low self-esteem. In this world, if you don’t believe in yourself and what you are carrying within you, no one else would. It’s interesting how people’s attitude towards us is mostly predicated on our self-belief and self-worth. In other words, we mirror our self-confidence and sense of worth to others. I have this phrase of affirmation I always confess to myself: I LIKE ME! Be comfortable in your skin, believe in who you are, and don’t belittle yourself while dreaming BIG.
  • Uniqueness (Be An Original) – You were created with the mark of originality and greatness. Among the over 7 billion people on earth, no one has the same DNA (genetic coding) as you. Living life on your own terms requires uniqueness not copy-cat. No matter how renowned, prolific and seasoned those ahead of you in your area of interest are presently, don’t be their duplicate copies. Choose to be an original of yourself. Learn from them, be inspired by them, seek their guidance and wisdom, but never be their carbon copy.
  • Integrity (Be True To Yourself) – Integrity is a much needed trait in today’s world, especially in the Church. God through His servant Moses said to the ancient Israelites on their way to the promise land that “Be ye holy, for I am holy!” (Leviticus 11:44). Holiness is not being holier-than-thou, but wholeness (completeness). Having integrity is being holy, i.e., complete and whole. Your public and private lives are simultaneous and they must consistent and synchronized. Basketball coach, John Wooden declared, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
  • Develop (Commit To Personal Growth) – “There is a theory of human behavior that says people subconsciously retard their own intellectual growth. They come to rely on clichés and habits. Once they reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their mind run on idle for the rest of their days. They may progress organizationally, they may be ambitious and eager, and they may even work night and day. But they learn no more” – Philip B. Crosby. You can’t live life on your own terms except you make yourself valuable. Being a person of value demands constant development and personal growth. Like someone once said, “He who learns the most earns the most.” Development and personal growth gives you an edge over your competitors and makes you indispensable.

An American author, journalist, and opinion columnist, Anna Quindlen held that “If success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your own heart, it is no success at all.” Dare to live life on your own terms and watch life accommodate you where they said there was no room for you.

Let me leave you with this beautiful quote from American business magnate, inventor, former chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple computers, Steve Jobs:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

May God empower you to live life on your own terms. May He give you the boldness to believe in yourself while you work on yourself in spite of the demands and challenges of life. Rise to become who you were really created to be in this new season of life!

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Dr. I.K. Otchere-Asamoah

Psychotherapist, Life and personal empowerment Coach, Entrepreneur, Writer, Inspirational Speaker, and Ordained Minister. My passion is to help people maximize their God-given potential, gifts, talents, abilities and ultimately become significant as they fulfill their purpose in life.

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