In order to move forward, we must acknowledge the things that are holding us back. For many of us, it’s our lifestyle—the choices, behaviors, actions, and beliefs that define who we are and how we live. Changing something as fundamental and deep-seated as how we’ve lived our lives for years can be scary. However, I’ve learned that you can choose to see that change is good. When you open yourself up to new experiences, no matter how scary they may seem, you’ll be surprised at all the good that can come from them. The key is to see change as an opportunity for personal growth and professional development.
Here’s an example: When I was twelve years old, my parents announced we were moving to the United States from Colombia, South America—the country where I was born and the only place I had ever known. My father was frustrated with his job, and he and my mother knew that a life in the United States would provide greater opportunities for the family. So, they packed up our belongings, said goodbye to our relatives, and set off for Miami, Florida.
I can still remember the fear and anxiety I felt leaving behind the environment, customs, and traditions I thought were mine forever. Instead, I found myself entering a new country where everyone spoke a language I did not know and lived in a culture I did not understand. When I entered school, I was sent back two grades because the school did not have a second language program. I sat next to the only student in the class who spoke Spanish, and she would translate what we learned in class every day. I spent at least two hours after class each day going over the material and slowly learning English in the process.
All my hard work paid off, and I graduated high school with honors and a year of college. This experience is how I developed a lifelong love for learning. The lesson: Life can change in an instant, and you can choose to either resist it or embrace it. I encourage you to embrace it. Change can create new possibilities you might never have imagined for yourself and can redefine who you are by exploring the potential that lies within. Don’t limit what you can achieve by fearing the unknown. Take every challenge and see it as an opportunity to make the most out of each and every day of your life. Change is what helps you work toward improving the areas in your life you dislike the most. Remember, the process of change is the only way to fulfill your true self’s potential.
Every great philosophical mind throughout history has pointed out the importance of one undeniable metaphor—life is a journey. Some see this journey as a quest for knowledge, others as a road to self-discovery. I see it as a circle, where all our experiences affect the next, intertwining each aspect of our lives. This never-ending cycle of cause and effect creates the path that becomes our journey.
Let’s say that our journey begins the day we were born. As the days, weeks, months, and years of our lives pass by, most of us forget that this journey is a continuous process. So we spend our time thinking about the past, looking toward the future, trying to control life so that we end up where we think we want to be. True, the past and future are parts of our life’s journey, but we cannot control them. What we forget is our ability to shape our journey and create the life we want by focusing on one simple thing—this moment right now!
“Now” is a very special time in your life. You can’t change your past, but you can use it as a learning experience to help you improve your present and influence your future, which are all parts of your life journey. Every experience from your past gives you a lesson that serves as preparation for what you can become in the future.
At any given moment, you have the ability to transform, reshape, or reinvent your direction. What would you do with your life if you could have a new shot at it? Is there anything you would like to improve? How we choose to look at the present is the one thing we have control of. It is the one thing we can choose to change to our benefit. We have the power, and if we decide to improve ourselves in the present, to upgrade our belief, and strengthen our personal convictions, we’ve got a new, clean slate. In fact, we get a new clean slate every day.
Coming to the United States from a third world country where opportunities were not abundant has given me an insight most Americans will never be able to appreciate. We live in a country that offers us limitless potential and new opportunities that are available at any given moment. I hear people often say they want more out of life, even though they have all the resources they need to achieve their goals. The problem is that they take no actions and instead find themselves right where they’ve always been.
But then along comes a story of one person who came from nothing—no guidance, no education, no finances, no social status—and achieves success beyond his wildest dreams, proving that anything is truly possible. You then forget the notion that your past determines your future and realize that changing your thoughts and behaviors leads to better outcomes. Soon you find that you can attract whatever you want from life. The one thing I hope you learn is that all you need to succeed is already in your life right now. The key is to stop living in the past or projecting into the future so you may focus your attention in the present.