Whether you’re an employee, self-employed worker or owner of a large company, everyone is currently experiencing their share of challenges. But is it mandatory to be a victim of circumstances? I’m looking at the question.

Why do some people are victims while others grow?

Let me start by taking a look at some good friends. Élise, full of energy, continues to give her 100% to all the clients of her clinic. Joannie, creative and motivated, develops new and inspiring projects. Marie-Christine is finally (rightly!) embracing her entrepreneurial aspirations.

These girls are all living the same thing I am living right now. Despite the circumstances, they remain enthusiastic and ambitious. They don’t stop and they seize the opportunity to come out of this challenge more fulfilled than ever.

These are just a few of many examples. I’ve heard lots of people say how this forced break has allowed them to reflect, to change — for the better — their pace, to reestablish their priorities or to spend more quality time with their families.

So I’ve come to wonder … is it possible that our reactions to circumstances are guided by conscious and deliberate choices … or not?

Being a victim

Someone very dear to me recently told me recently, “Don’t give away your power.” I’d heard that expression before, but truth be told, it kind of blew up in my face. That’s because it’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately.

I was letting go, going with the flow. I wasn’t making any more decisions — or actions — in my professional life. I was imagining that things, one way or another, were going to take care of themselves. It’s a bit like living in naivety, in denial.

“These are such exceptional circumstances, I’m going to let it go for a bit …”

“I’ll wait for [insert name of person, organization or government] to come and help me.”

And just like that, you give up your power and put it in someone else’s hands.

mandatory orange
Photo by Zhang Kenny on Unsplash

Taking back our power

I’ve had this kind of experience more than once in my life. And each time, it’s when I’ve decided to take the situation into my own hands that they’ve really changed:

  • When I’ve started eating better and being more physically active on a regular basis — more than 10 years ago now — I’ve improved my health.
  • When I’ve chosen to end some relationships, instead of maintaining them out of habit, I’ve developed more rewarding ones.
  • When I went back to school and became self-employed, I grew up as an entrepreneur and discovered my potential.

My power comes from the decisions I make. To make a decision is to take action. When you realize that everything rests on you — no matter what the circumstances — that’s when everything can finally fall into place.

The challenge

It’s a pretty simple concept … so why is it sometimes difficult to apply it?

The challenge is that the actions resulting from this decision require a lot of effort. It can be scary and discouraging.

  • When I was 24 years old, I was 20 pounds heavier and I did no cardio. I took control of my health, worked out and ate better. Was it difficult at first? Yes, it was! And it still requires daily efforts. Thanks to this decision, I feel fitter than ever and good in my own skin.
  • I’ve had moments of doubt when I made my career change to go into photography. Going back to school full time — with the schedule, lifestyle and income that comes with it — I was discouraged at times during my 17 months of degree formation. Four years later, thanks to this decision, I feel privileged to be able to live from my passion, evolve as an artist and use my full creative potential.
sprout plant green
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

The magic ingredient

Call it what you want (trust, faith, vision …), it takes some (or a bunch) to make a decision. Especially when the result is not guaranteed.

It all starts with small actions. And as we go along, doors open, opportunities arise, new people cross our path. We grow, we evolve. We make mistakes, we learn, we start over!

Cut lemons knife
Photo by Ghislaine Guerin on Unsplash

Contenting ourselves is NOT mandatory

Do we really have to settle for a lemon wedge when what we really want is a whole fruit (or even the whole tree)?

In spite of the current circumstances, in spite of what things seem to be, we still have the power to decide what we do. I realize how much power I have every time I overcome challenges. Every time I am proud of myself. Every time I dare to take actions that go beyond the easy path.

This article is intended to be more therapeutic than educational. It allows me to remember all the times I have faced challenges in my life and, most importantly, all the times I have overcome them. It helps to give me hope and confidence. If I’ve been able to do it before … then I can do it again!

Do whatever you want with it. The decision on my side has already been made. ;)