Several years ago I awoke from a very disturbing and vivid dream that I came to realize connects to taking responsibility for my life. I understand it better now, because I had the dream again, but with a twist.

The first time around I was walking towards a car and while I wanted to get into the driver’s seat, instead I got into the passenger seat. Someone else got into the driver’s seat and began backing up. I panicked because I wasn’t ready, my seat belt wasn’t on. Regardless of my requests to wait until I was ready, the driver started the car and off we went. We went off the road and I was left by the side of the road, injured and alone. The driver had left.

The second dream is more recent, shorter and calmer. I was walking towards a vehicle and someone else tried to get into the driver’s seat. I told them clearly, my car and I’m driving. You can sit in the passenger seat if you want. I imagine you have figured out the meaning, but if not, here it is. The car symbolizes my life and in the first dream I was letting someone else drive and taking responsibility for all the choices.  We went somewhere I didn’t want to go, my life went off the road and I was left injured and alone. The second dream I was in charge and my car/life was in my hands. Even the invitation for the passenger wasn’t very welcoming. They should be driving their own car!

Letting someone else run our lives happens fairly often and usually over time. It happens when we begin to think we have to say yes instead of saying no. Of keeping the peace and not having the conversation. It can happen when we don’t think our needs are as important as another. Or, it can even occur because we’ve been taught that it is more important to be nice than to stand up for ourselves. In a relationship we might mistakenly believe that we need to lose some of our individuality to make the relationship work.

If you are feeling out of sorts, or dissatisfied with your life, it is time to ask why. This is not an exercise in blame but rather an opportunity to take personal responsibility. Consider it a chance to do some self-reflection about what is working and also to do some dreaming. Not as it relates to group goals or dreams, but yours. The ones that make you tingle or your palms sweat. Why? Because we know that at the end of our lives we will be having a conversation, spoken or not, about what our lives stood for. The chances we took to create our lives in ways that held meaning and purpose. While we might be struggling right now deciding what that is, there is still time and opportunity to create our self-definition.

First, we have to decide what we stand for and what legacy we want to leave. I want you to think beyond what and who is in your life right now. Think on a bigger scale. What is it that you want to bring to the world, what parts of yourself are waiting for expression? If you don’t know, then begin reading books about creativity, or about a public figure that you admire.

I also want you to start turning your beliefs on their sides and really examining them too. If you are a person that favors physical activity over quiet, maybe it’s time to challenge yourself with meditation or reading. If you have a more sedentary lifestyle then consider mixing that up. Try out some activities that you feel unsure about, that has you pushing out of who and what you think you are capable of.

It doesn’t mean that there won’t be conversations between yourself and other significant people in your life. It does mean that at any given time you are aware and in agreement of the direction your life is taking. In turn, you also want those in your life to do the same. As you decide exactly what experiences, people and places you choose to have in your life those choices will begin to shape your outlook and satisfaction.

New adventures and trying things you haven’t considered before is exhilarating. Since you are a unique individual, it goes to follow that whatever you decide to try must come from you, not from someone else who believes they know best. Personal responsibility means taking the wheel and choosing your course. It also means that you will  accept accountability and enjoy the outcomes of your decisions. Nothing is more satisfying or beneficial   than personal responsibility and living our lives the best we can.

The difference between who I was from the first dream to the second is immense. Taking charge of our lives has benefits in all areas, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Stress and unhappiness take a toll on our physical bodies. Since I have chosen to become the driver I have experienced better health and substantial healing from a back injury. My confidence has grown and I have bigger dreams of what I could bring to the world. This could be you, if you are willing to get behind the wheel and choose  your life direction. The time is now, the beginning of a new year and if you decide for it to be so, the beginning of a new you.

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