Destiny is a Choice

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

How your beliefs and actions shape what you become

Do you ever sit back from time to time and consider where you are in life? Where you thought you’d be at your age? How much progress you’ve made? Or not? I do, and one thing’s for sure, I never thought it would be this way. I expected something different. Perhaps something more. If I look deeper however, I realize I have more than I thought I’d have – or dreamed of. My wonderful kids and partner. My family and many special friends. The insights and wisdom I have gained from inspiring and thoughtful people, and from my own experiences. The many amazing possibilities.

Go from ‘human doing’ to ‘human being’

Sometimes I develop an idea of achieving something, perhaps taking a new course, or completing an endurance event. Or we see someone else who has done or accomplished something that looks cool. Quite often my intentions go nowhere and there is a gap between intention and outcome.

What we think we want, even once achieved, will not necessarily make us happy. Effort to achieve something that gives us near term gratification, quickly pales. How many times can we reward ourselves with a treat before we begin to realise there is something more fundamental we crave. Research by positive psychologists including Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the psychology of happiness, has shown that at a fundamental level, an engaged and meaningful life is more sustainable and satisfying. Perhaps you unconsciously know this and lack the inner resolve to complete the work needed.

Another reason for falling short of our intention, is that once started, we begin to realise “it’s just not me”. Our intention does not have congruence with who we really are – our convictions comprising of our core beliefs, values and our ultimate purpose. Strong conviction is characterised by a confident sense of purpose. Our convictions are unique to ourselves and will be expressed in how you chose to live your life.

When your convictions become clear and a sense of purpose crystallises, it opens up possibility in your life. Your convictions naturally determine what is important to you and what you tend to prioritise. This dictates where you should spend your time and focus, and also increase your resilience, helping you withstand setbacks.

Destiny is a Choice

The Destiny is a Choice model is a good way to look at how your fundamental conviction translates into cycle of empowerment.

As your conviction (who you are being) grows, you start to exhibit what you will be in your chosen future (your destiny). As American philosopher William James once said, “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.” You gain insights that allow you to focus (concentrate) on what’s really important and where you can have a positive impact. It allows you to make a conscious choice of what you really want to do. No one else can make this choice for you. As Björn Borg, the champion tennis player once said “You have to find it. No one else can find it for you.”

How is your clarity of thought and awareness? Living in a space where you have consciously made your choices, you pay attention to what’s really happening – you become more mindfully aware and thoughtful about things, other people and yourself. It endows a capability that everyone could have – being super aware - but so many don’t embrace and cultivate, preferring to operate on auto-pilot. Albert Einstein once said, “Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” You begin to see things for what they really are, and are able to discern falsities from fact. I once characterised it as having a third eye. As I grew my awareness, I started to see things I hadn’t noticed before. It felt very empowering. The insights allow you to make adjustments to your actions, as events play out, while remaining true to your focused priorities. It also sets you up for the next step.

As you progress you habituate the good things, improving outcomes and using the experience and self-awareness to grow. French philosopher Albert Camus said; “We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die.” This infers a cycle of growth and shaping. We are always learning more about ourselves. The power in this virtuous cycle is your personal growth has the ability to continuously transform your belief patterns to something that will even better serve your purpose.

An eight-month-old baby has twice as many neurons (around 200 billion) as a five-year-old child. As you age, the neurons and the interconnections that are used, are strengthened. Those that are not activated are starved of nutrients, grow weak and die. This process is called neuro-plasticity, and means that the way you live, the experiences you expose yourself to and the attitude you adopt, will drive changes in your brain. Along with your conscious reflective learning and the subconscious growth you experience, you are able to shape your very understanding, belief system and wisdom. You remain true to your core essence but your beliefs and values are being honed, driving change in your priorities.

Choosing his own Destiny

Ramón Arroyo is 32, married with two children, and works for a multinational company in a successful career. One day his body begins to falter. In 2004 he learns that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). His doctor tells him that he will barely be able to walk, let alone run. But he decides to attempt an extreme sporting challenge, to complete an Ironman race: 3,800 meters open water swimming, 180km cycling and, as a final torture, a 42km marathon.

Something inside, a conviction made him want to take on this challenge and at the same time raise awareness of the effects of MS in particular, and for the population in general, of the importance of physical activity to improve our quality of life. He set out to complete an Ironman distance event, to raise funds for help and research and above all to demonstrate that any person with effort and motivation can achieve any goal. So, after years of not being able to walk 200m, he began to concentrate and focus on his new and daunting project. He activated his plan as he went through his training and mindfully reflecting, “By taking care of myself and by practicing sport, my health has improved significantly”.

From 2008, he participated in multiple races of 8km+, more than 15 Half Marathons and 4 Marathons. He also participated in triathlon races at different distances. Finally, on October 6th, 2013, at Challenge Barcelona-Maresme 2013, aged 44, he completes his Iron distance event. He wanted to inspire, but in his growth and progression reflected; “An Ironman is only a distance. We all have to find our own Ironman, our own distance.”

This challenge is considered one of the hardest tests in the sports world and currently only 4 people affected by MS have been able to perform it successfully, including Ramón. As a sense of his self-belief from his experience, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not capable of doing something you desire…not even yourself”.

His active life doing endurance sport has been considered by his doctors, psychotherapists, and physiotherapists as a fundamental pillar in the recovery after his diagnosis leading to the quality of life that Ramón enjoys today. “I have proven that I recover faster and my quality of life has improved”.

His fantastic journey was recently adapted into a movie for the big screen: ‘100 meters’. The film’s title, ‘100 meters‘, refers to the response that Arroyo received a doctor when he asked whether this disease would be able to exercise. “You will not be able to run or 100 meters,” he said. The trailer with English subtitles can be viewed on this link.

Clearly, after his diagnosis, Ramón could have passively accepted his fate. He made a choice about his destiny in taking on a challenge bigger than himself, and in the process inspiring millions.


Recognise where you are at. Everyone is in a different place in terms of circumstances and day-to-day stress.

Think about what you have to be grateful for. Your health, your family, your friends. Things that stimulate, things that bring you joy. It may be a song, a task, a person, a pet, nature, the sound of water flowing, or wind in the trees.Ask if you are taking full responsibility of your life?Start to think about what is important to you. Your values drive your priorities, some examples include: altruism, being real, health, open-mindedness, honesty, creativity, compassion, spirit of adventure, positivity, and education. Ask yourself, am I being driven by my own essence and “truth”?Are you focused on the important things in your life right now?