How do you define yourself?

What you allow to define you determines the person you are. It’s therefore critical that you define yourself in terms of what you want to be, rather than what you were.

Some people allow their clothes to define them, putting much thought into choosing clothes that they believe will reflect who they believe themselves to be. If they’re arty, they wear arty clothes. If they’re geared for career success, they favour a corporate look. It all depends on how they want to be defined.

Most people are, however, defined by their past – where they came from, who they were in the past. Everybody has a past. That’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing – it’s just a fact. Chat to the person occupying the desk next to you and you will find that they have a story to tell about the good and the bad things that have happened in their lives.

Some turn their past into an asset, drawing on lessons they’ve learned through the years to help them make smarter, wiser decisions; others allow the past to be a liability that traps them in a prison all through their lives.

Such people will always battle to break free from their past and will spend a lifetime trying to redefine themselves without much success because their past can never be changed. It is what it was. If we let our past define us, we’re missing out on an opportunity to fulfil our potential. Why? Because our past is then limited. It can never be improved, expanded or increased. Never.

Let your future define you. Your future is unlimited, unrestricted and open to infinite – yes infinite – possibilities.

If you want to open yourself up to an unlimited life, define yourself in terms of the future you want to experience. And don’t be vague when you consider your future. Be clear in your mind about what you want that future to be.

You don’t go in into a restaurant and order, “I’ll have some food, please.” When you look at the menu, you’re looking at your “future” – the future you want in the next hour or so at that restaurant. You’ll therefore select something from the menu and specify exactly how you want it to be prepared (rare, medium or well done, if a steak), what you want to accompany your meal – sauce, chips, baked potato, rice, salad or veggies – and any other things you feel like eating. Then you sit back and enjoy a conversation with your fellow guests knowing that your order will arrive in due course.

And what happens? In 99 cases out of 100, you get what you ordered!

Life is like a restaurant. You’re going to get what you order.

So, back to your future … What kind of future do you want? Define it clearly in your mind, then let that clear vision define how you think, act and speak. You don’t run to the restaurant kitchen to check on your food, so don’t keep checking on the future. Practise the Law of Detachment. Once you’ve defined your future, detach yourself from the outcome, get on with living (in terms of how you defined your future) and it will manifest in your reality in due course.

You can apply this to your personal and your professional lives.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine,, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.

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