Life can be viewed as a series of challenges or opportunities. How we perceive and respond to each situation or event then determines, or at least heavily influences, our life experiences. Since we are each unique, our perceptions and responses will be unique also. The collective total of our responses is our life.

I have met many people who exclaim disbelief or astonishment at their current situation in life. They appear either unwilling or incapable of “connecting the dots” and seeing the pattern in and relationship between their past actions and current experiences. Without the ability to see how the past has helped to form the present, there is little likelihood they can believe there is a connection between what they believe now and their future.

The easiest way to recognize the connection between beliefs, actions and future results is to have a plan for your life. Then, as you attain parts of your plan you will see a direct connection between your efforts and their results.

I have seen so many cases where a person refuses to use lists, notes, or keep even a daily calendar. None of these people are very successful. I do know some very successful people. Some of them have personal assistants who take notes, keep a calendar, and maintain a plan for them. However, few of us will ever fall into that level of success; so, we have to do it for ourselves. And, we should want to do it! Keeping good notes, having detailed plans, using a step-by-step process to accomplish our dreams are as close to a guarantee for success that exists.

A major tenet of Chaos Theory is: “There is sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” Simply put, everything builds on itself. The quality of the initial condition directly impacts everything that follows. Starting well can allow you to end well. Start poorly and there is little to no hope of ending well. Remember, everything interacts, regardless whether we see or believe there is a connection. The thoughts and ideas you have today influence your views on everything. Your attitudes and acceptance levels either restrict or expand you.

For the next month, become more observant about your thought processes and your actions. Close observation will show you both subtle and obvious connections. Then begin to plan your future by consciously planning and acting in specific ways. Arrange circumstances that allow you to accomplish the items on your plan.

Tim O’Brien writes continuing-education courses and presents seminars on stress management.

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