Ruining one’s life is not something most people consciously set out to do. Most people want to achieve success in life. There is an inner drive to excel, to achieve your potential, to have your life count for something.
As you’re reading this, there are probably some thoughts and feelings stirring in your heart and mind. Maybe you’re remembering the things your parents want you to do with your life. Maybe it’s your own goals and ambitions that seem so far away. Perhaps you feel a tinge of regret over the things that failed and punctured your confidence to try again.
Regardless of what’s happened in the past, you most likely have a desire for life to work out well for you. You’re probably not getting up each morning thinking: “How can I ruin my life today?” And yet, ruin is a sneaky thing.
Because it’s invisible, it can be extremely insidious. It’s so much easier to pin our lack of achievement on circumstances we can actually see and people we can point our fingers to. We don’t actually think about the inner obstacles (of our own creation) that can impede progress along our road to success.
People who are angry and bitter, with multiple chips on their shoulders (we all know a few of them)probably don’t realise how, over the years, they’ve created their own version of quicksand and despite all their frenetic activity, are going nowhere slowly.
So how does one destroy one’s life, bit by bit, day by day, decision by decision? Decay usually sets in because of neglect. The proper care and attention is not applied appropriately and while it might not seem to be too damaging when you look at things over a short period of time, the tragic picture of ruination sets in over a decade or two.
- You lack vision: We weren’t born to just pay bills and die. You have been designed with a passion and on purpose and until you find and pursue the thing that makes you come alive, you will always be yearning for inner contentment. Success means different things to different people. You will feel like there is something missing from your life until you do whatever it is that fills you with joy when you’re doing it: whether it’s teaching children, running your own business or baking cakes. If you don’t write the script for your life, someone else will.
- You never take action: You keep talking about your dreams but you never translate them into goals and concrete plans. Successful people have turned wishful thinking into practical action. If you are not willing to pay the price, you will never lay your hands on the things you want. The things you like, you talk about. The things you love, you commit to.
- You never take responsibility: Someone else is always to blame for the things that haven’t happened yet in your life. There is no denying that some people have an easier start to life and have more privilege than others. And yet, there are countless examples of people who have experienced similar challenges and life circumstances as you. Once they took accountability for their lives, they managed to not just overcome it but to rise above their limitations and achieve phenomenal success. Find inspiring role models and ditch the scapegoats. If you haven’t learn how to receive – and grow from – constructive criticism, then you are bound to repeat the same experiences year in and year out.
- You stop growing: Your graduation day is not the finishing line of your learning. Great leaders are life long learners and successful people are constantly learning new things. Skill sets need to be tweaked and expanded in order to stay relevant in the market place. If you never really evaluate your personal progress and reflect on ways to improve and grow, you will experience regression instead of progression.
- You think you can make it on your own: A self-made man/woman is a fallacy. We need people to help us achieve more than we could ever accomplish on our own. People who have faith in the goodness of God and depend on His help experience a God-sized life as opposed to a life based on limited self-efforts.
- You live beyond your means: Talking yourself into unnecessary credit card purchases or ‘must-have items’ is a sure way to dig a deep hole of debt that will be a major impediment to living a whole, full life. Comparing yourself to others – and trying to keep up to someone else’s standards – is a sure way to drain the joy and contentment from your own life. Your finances don’t crumble in a day… but one bad choice after another eventually causes the ship to sink.
- You won’t diversify your friendship circle: If you’re constantly hanging out with people that look, act and think like you, you are robbing yourself from a rich tapestry of connection and understanding. Some relationships are like spiderwebs – keeping you trapped in a reality that doesn’t serve you and keeps you stuck. Most people never change because they are too afraid to allow their friendship circle to evolve.
What we don’t realise is that our fixed mindsets can act like a slow poison in our lives. Developing a growth mindset can help you galvanise yourself against the long-term, devastating affects of these soul-destroying decisions and behaviours.
This proverb has always stuck with me: “Wise people build their house with their own hands, but foolish people tear it down with their own hands.” There is no denying that you are entirely responsible for what your “house of life” currently looks like.
The truth is that even though there may be some areas that look severely debilitated right now, there is nothing so broken that God cannot restore. Once you are honest about the current state of affairs, you can then go about uprooting the roots of the things that are slowly but surely destroying your life.
If you don’t believe that you are a valuable person and deserving of living a whole, full, life – then you are not going to be motivated to stop the self-harm. I have swung on the pendulum of identity, living as a victim and as a rebel, until finally settling into the truth about my created value as a child of God.
When you see your worth and start living from a place of identity instead of for identity, the things you used to do to self-destruct become ludicrous patterns in your life. The great news is that if you are on any of these seven paths of death, you can decide to turn around and walk in the opposite direction into new paths of life.
I think that deep down, you really want to live a life that is full of joy, that is freeing and that frees you from the judgement, actions or opinions of others. Make the change today. If you wait another day, and another, and still another, ruin will come upon you and you will wish you could turn back the hands of time.