Are we in control of our own lives or pawns in a cosmic chess game? This question has been debated for hundreds of years. Watch this short video (1:35) I taped in Costa Rica and I’ll look forward to your comments.

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Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

26 thoughts on “Do We Determine Our Destiny?”

  1. Of course we build our own destiny. Those that chose to play the victim and claim to be “pawns” in the great universal “chess game” as it were seem to believe that they can abdicate their responsibility and are therefore not in command of their life journey? Whatever! Ultimately we are in fact responsible for every minute of our lives and the choices we make. Now yes their outside extenuating circumstances that can and do throw us a curveball and then we are of course responsible for the choices we make dealing with these unforeseen circumstances. We are 100% responsible for our lives.

  2. There are things we can control – such as our thoughts (as profoundly demonstrated by the great Viktor Frankl). I can control the choices that I make.

    There are things we can influence – such as our environment, our immediate circumstances. I cannot always control the choices that I am presented with. I can influence them, but not always control them.

    And there are things we can neither control nor influence (I cannot alter my parents, my genetics, nor the fact that I live in the 20th/21st centuries.).

    Life is about taking control of your thoughts and actions, and influencing your circumstances, to the greatest extent possible.

    The great variable throughout human history – is freedom. With freedom man has great control and influence. Without freedom, he is very limited.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Do you really believe we are in control of our results?

    I believe we humans have no control of the results. The only thing we can control is our efforts. The more effort you make, the higher chances of getting the results you want.

    Example: A student has to go write a school exam. He puts a great amount of effort to get there on time. Many things can go wrong that are not in his control, and can cause him to be late or not make it to his exam at all. Was he really in control of his results?

    There is a destiny, and i believe within that destiny, humans have been been given the power to make choices and choose a course of action. But what they choose doesn’t guarantee the results they want.

    Example: A person who lives a life of integrity can still be falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. His course of action and the results he got were two different things. The effort could increase his chances of giving him the results he desires, but it is not guaranteed.

  4. “I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.”

    – Brian Tracy

  5. Steve,
    Another great topic. I have a tendency to agree with most that we can control our destiny, to a certain gegree. We obviously can’t control something like bad weather or harsh political/military consequences that may derail our goals/desires. Another question to ponder is how do we know we are getting close to or on track to reaching our proclaimed destiny before we get the obvious result or stimulus indicating we have attained it?

  6. I live by the principle stated in the serenity prayer:
    Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change
    Courage to change the things I can
    And the wisdom to know the difference

    This is my reality. I do believe we have the choice to shape our own destiny.Acting on that choice and sticking to it will make your dream come true.

  7. Yes, we create by being attracted to certain wants and purpose. We also have biases, prejudices and self-imposed limitations. I have made critical life choices, contemplating the perceived trade offs. Some of these choices were fear based as I was seeking safety nets first and foremost. I read your “How Rich People Think” and I was certainly a thinker of the masses. My biases froze my ability to make choices of higher vibration, which I regretted later in my life.

    I make the best of any situation, although I am subject to the choices of other people as well in exercising their free agency. To know what we can control and to know what we can’t is divine.

  8. Free Will or Predestination? I find this topic absolutely fascinating, so much so that it just so happens I wrote an article about it recently- the link is below if anyone is interested in a more full explanation, but in a nutshell, I think it is not one or the other but both.
    Since God is our Father, I like to think of this idea as a parent: would I give my child full control over every decision or would I “pre-decide” some things for him? God is way much more than our tiny (but developing) minds can understand this side of Heaven. God knows everything so, of course, He knows what we will choose before we choose it. Does that make it any LESS our choice? No. Should we still be held responsible for those choices? Of course. But since God does know everything, He can predetermine certain scenarios for us that would be most beneficial for us… all this while taking into consideration every human’s (past, present, and future) Free Will choices, the good, the bad, and (sadly) the ugly choices too. While not infringing on our choices, He guides them towards good…now if we accept that guidance or not is another story all together, but God NEVER leaves His creation on its own, to its own devices…even though this world is fallen, because He is still in it, there is always still Hope.
    I again, invite you to read some more about what I think on this subject at the link below, as well as some other issues at my site.
    Thanks Steve for bringing up such an interesting topic and opening such a compelling dialog.

  9. I think to a great degree we determine our own realities. Problems sometimes occur when other folks realities collide with mine. Life is a series of mid-course corrections. Sometimes you end up in “interesting” places but if you are careful and a little bit lucky, the journey can be memorable.

  10. I don’t believe that we are puppets, that some supernatural power is in control of our lives. I believe that we are in control, but to varying degrees. The subscribers to this blog have a higher level of awareness and presumably take more responsibility for their lives than the average person. It’s easy for us to say that we are in control of our lives.

    But what about someone who grows up in a third world country where it’s a two hour walk just to get clean water? I would say that this person still has choices to make, but obviously they have far fewer of them than we do. We are all products of our environment to some extent.

    So, we are not pawns. We are in control of our choices, but we are limited by the choices that are available to us.

  11. When a person lives a life they feel is pre-destine, then it gives them a way to blame God or any other entity for their failures. I always taught my daughters that you are where you are by the choices you make. You are given gifts at birth and how you choose to use those gifts determines your destiny. Otherwise there would be no free will.

  12. Hi Steve,

    Yes we do create our own reality whether you realize it or not. Everybody is on a path to somewhere. That is why it’s important to find out early in life where you want to end up.

    Once you know who you want to be and where you want to end up then you have a choice to make. And your choices will determine where you end up. Because if you don’t you will end up somewhere you probably don’t want to be.

    Take control of your destiny and create your own reality.

  13. Of course we are 100% responsible for all that we create. To believe otherwise says that we are just puppets in some cosmic show, with no say or control of our destinies. We are now living in Portugal because we created the vision and lived into it. Note: Religion plays a big part in our culture (the whole world) in regards to destiny. It has people believing that something outside of themselves is creating and judging what they do/think. Steve, thanks for creating this blog and giving us a forum for thinking outside of the box.

  14. Just as in physics so it is in life. There is only cause and effect. Most people choose to be effect, the mentally tough choose to be cause.

  15. Our control of our lives depends on the degree of our awareness of often automatic habits of our perceptions, feelings, and actions that were formed as a result of family/cultural etc. programming. If we become aware – we can manage and control.
    And, in addition, of course, in my reality, there is Almighty Divine Spirit.
    (coming from former Russian (Young) Communist and Atheist:)

  16. Steve,
    to say, yes, I determine my own destiny is easily said, as most of us look at all the great and positive things which have happened in our lives.
    But what about the negative things, the accidents, being fired at your job, the last argument at home with your partner or your children. How about the goals, you were sure to achieve and didn’t. Did we cause these events ourselves? Are we ready to take full responsibility for all the negative things, which happened in our lives?
    It is my understanding that everything bad happening to me was caused by me having done a similar bad action against somebody else in the past. Of course it is much easier to blame “fate” for your misfortunes, than looking back and say: At that point in my life I messed up and now I am getting paid back for that.

    Taking this type of full responsibility for your life will give you satisfaction and serenity as you don’t have to hold any grudges against anybody.

  17. I’m grateful to see Steve asking himself and us – the public followers of mental toughness at large- this question. As I become more aspiring toward developing mental toughness: I do share much of the same view as Neil M. I also choose to work on not being abrasive toward those people who have not been able to achieve – or experience- the freedom of their choices has on the bearing of their own life. Be it due to any reason (culture, trauma, society, governments.)

    As I’m grateful to have this opportunity to share and learn on this question: I am currently of the belief – from experiential results that have occurred in my own reality that the inner work of Kriya Yoga, in its pure forms of study and aspiration, is yielding myself much rapid progress and ability to create my reality moreso than predestination.

    Now, if one is to say that ‘ it was pre-destined that one will come to understand the active principles to their own power of free choice at such and such an age and time… I don’t know if I could make a good retort, because I don’t know all the dynamics of that which affects time and space on any individual. I am grateful to be experiencing the degree of liberty I currently am.

  18. Good question speaking man, and good answer Mike.

    I do believe that we absolutely create our own destiny – whether it by purpose (determinism), or by being led by other people, circumstances and/or factors – either way, you are in control, it’s just that in the latter you choose to allow external elements to populate the fabric of your direction – you allow it to be so.

    Governments, religion, laws and people can very effectively stifle, retard or shackle one’s ability to create their own destiny, particularly from an operational perspective, and many allow this to be so – people who end-up enduring a life of quiet desperation, believing that ‘it was meant to be’.

    Indelible courage, dogged persistence and damn hard work are key ingredients in those that carve their own destiny and live their dreams.

    Wishful thinking, prayer and hoping for the best will still allow you to create your destiny, it’s just that it may not be the destiny that you would have hoped.

    To suggest we are controlled like puppets pre-destined is very naive… but goes a long way in explaining all the string.

    Bishop to Queen4


  19. Hey Steve,

    Writing from beautiful Cocles beach in Costa Rica at the moment–
    my opinion is that God has offered as much abundance as we care to partake in. Our choices and attitudes and decisions make our lives what they are.

    What would be the sense in having every move preordained? Why would he give us all so many varied gifts and talents if we were to be just puppets?

    Sorry I missed you on your visit here and hope to see you next time.

    Gill Phelan

  20. Like all things in life there is no absolute.
    Steve you are only partialy correct in this.
    My experience is that I create all of my life within the context of my domain.
    What do I mean by this?
    There are any number of possibilities and we cocreate with Higher Power or God if you will.
    There is also a wider context of evolution of a number of souls and we interact and affect each other. Think of the monkeys who clean the coconuts and how they impact on monkeys on other islands.

  21. Like all things in life there is no absolute.
    Steve you are only partialy correct in this.
    My experience is that I create all of my life within the context of my domain.
    What do I mean by this?
    There are any number of possibilities and we cocreate with Higher Power or God if yu will.
    There is also a wider context of evolution of a number of souls and we interact and affect each other. Think of the monkeyes who clean the coconuts and how they impact on monkeyes on other islands.

  22. Do you control your destiny or is your destiny predestined? The answer is yes. I believe we control certain things (and to a certain point) in our lives. However I believe in a sovereign creator that is ultimately in control of everything.

  23. Hi Steve- You said it well when you said, “my opinion is…” Whether one thinks he creates his destiny or that everything is predestined/scripted, it’s just an opinion. There’s no way to prove it either way.

  24. I agree with everything Mike said – In this place- in this time frame – in this situation – I am in control of how I act – the choices I make that are available at the time- It is odd to think that the best choice I have available my not be the best choice for another – no one really can walk in my shoes nor can I walk in theirs – to that extent – my choices are mine alone – and my inner world also belongs only to me – life is short so I best make it amazing –

    I am in charge of my destiny – and create the world in which I live – I choose – I work on what needs work – I discard what is toxic to me – no matter where I have landed – no matter the circumstances – I choose – I grow – I learn – I become –

  25. I agree with you Steve. Everyone has a choice. It’s not just making a choice. Acting on that choice is what makes it reality.

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