7 Strategies Toward a Decided Heart





“A dream is not just a wish your heart makes.  It is the hope that God places inside your heart to believe in what may seem impossible to accomplish, but in fact is completely obtainable.” – Shonna Stallworth

And so began Matthew’s personal journey to find his life. Only 3 shortish long months into his journey and already the path he thought he set himself on has altered completely and he now finds that he has to start all over again, from scratch, setting out a new course but trying to keep to the integrity of his decided heart. Oh how life twists and turns and messes with our plans. But I believe that life’s destiny is about facing life with a decided heart which is embedded with courage.

“Struggle is proof that you haven’t been conquered, that you refuse to surrender, that victory is still possible, and that you’re growing.” Jon Walden

What is destiny? The dictionary defines destiny as a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency; something that happens or will be experienced in the future.

Are you living your destiny right this second? This moment right now is the present and the future of where you were and you don’t know for sure if there will be more of a future for you. So if you are living your destiny right this minute are you happy, satisfied, excited, and energized?

Is there a way to harness destiny? In other words, should we stay the course with rigidity or should we be flexible to the changes?

I’ve always believed that flexibility has its merits. Being stuck and rigid to one plan or ideal can cause more harm than good but it also shows perseverance and determination. Can your mantra, your credo, your personal life code be rigid and yet flexible within?

In his book, The Traveler’s Gift, author Andy Andrews talks about 7 decisions for determining personal success. He lists these decisions as a code of ethics, as armor toward his destiny. Take a look:

  1. The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.
  2. I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others.
  3. I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now.
  4. I have a decide heart. My destiny is assured.
  5. Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful heart.
  6. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself.
  7. I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.

The thing that strikes me most severely is Mr. Andrew’s passion and determined presence in these 7 decisions. He sets his destiny within the decisions his heart makes. I feel the power of his convictions in each one of them and I am moved to believe without a doubt that he will meet with great success toward his destiny. The pathway to his destiny will, however, be tried and tested and so will his 7 decisions. The trick is to approach his future with passion and stability in his decided heart but make friends with the flexibility life will require of him. Once you know where your heart stands the devil then is in the details.

Matthew has a decided heart. He knows where he wants to make his life happen. He is staying open and flexible within his heart in order to live these 7 decisions. He has already come up with a possible plan should this new pathway on his journey not work out quite like he is imaging. To me this means he has already learned that what he set out to accomplish may take a whole lot longer than he hoped it would because one just never know what fate has in store. The big lesson here is to remain determined to see this journey through and to learn as much as he can along the way.

I am so jealous and so inspired. I am jealous because I have yet to master the flexibility aspect to my satisfaction and I sometimes feel stuck in the events of the past. I feel inspired because he is like a jumping bean moving to the rhythm of his decided heart and adjusting for curves along his destiny’s path. This is the year of my battle with indecision. I have a deep, yearning pull deep within my core to have a decided heart but to decide so many important things about which direction my life should go has left me standing still. Some things have been decided for me. As I have learned if you don’t decide, that itself is a decision which yields ugly outcomes. Some things are still hanging in the air, blowing in the wind, and waiting for me to attend to it.

Getting in touch with the truth of who I want to be now, how I want to live my life now, and what influences I want in my life now are really tough decisions to make. Some people call this a mid-life crisis. I call it lunacy. I was so happy living in the fantasy of existing in someone else’s life. I was a mom full time and caught up, lovingly and wholeheartedly in raising my children to be able to do exactly what Matthew is doing. I should feel so proud and I do, truly I do, but I never imagined how lonely and lost I would feel when the kids all grew up and spread their wings. I have had many incarnations of myself throughout the motherhood phase of my life but now I really need to hone in on what exactly I want to absolutely dedicate my time and energy toward.

“No matter what your history has been, your destiny is what you create today. What are you going to create?” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

If every decade has the potential to be a new incarnation, a chance to write a new and exciting chapter of who I am evolving toward then this decided heart thing should be fun not anguishing. 

And so it begins. I give myself permission to create a decided heart around a lot of emotional topics like my marriage, my career, my financial future, my home, my family, etc. I am not the kind of person that can cross the street without looking both ways. I just can’t leave it up to fate to determine whether I make it across safely. I think things through to such a degree that I make more choices for myself than need be and that is where I get stuck. Some people see the world and their decisions as black and white but I see all shades of gray and have a hard time choosing which shade feels the most authentic.

The question then becomes how can I create my own destiny and therefore a decided heart? Here is what I’ve learned so far…

  1. See your future. Silly right? If you can build it, it will come. Build the image of the future you want and plan every step along the way as best you can but allow for divots. Life will always create a sinkhole somewhere but instead of seeing that sinkhole as a problem see it as part of your destined path. What will you fill them in with?
  2. Get real. You can play a really amazing game of baseball but truly, will you become a pro athlete on a team for the MLB association? Know your limits and strengths and play to them always. Stay authentic and relevant so that you don’t waste too much time getting lost in fantasy.
  3. Know your why. Knowing right from the beginning why you are in pursuit of your destiny will help determine who you want to see yourself becoming and what the purpose of your destiny really is. Defining your why will enable you to streamline your energy, focus, values and ethics.
  4. Source it out. Don’t always think old school when creating ways to get where you want to go. You may not be in the know about new resources and how they work but don’t let that stop you. Part of your destiny is to learn, learn and then learn some more.
  5. Enlist your tribe. There will be those people that want to and feel compelled to tear down what you are trying to achieve but don’t listen. Most likely they are jealous because they lost momentum along their destiny’s path and haven’t been able to get it back. Use constructive criticism to your advantage. Seek out those people that know more than you so that you can grow and gain insight into your journey.
  6. HARD is not a four letter word. Adjust for rough roads. Those rough roads are the nitty-gritty of your destiny’s journey. The grit is what makes the hard work worth it in the end. Let hard work be your friend and ally. If there is no sweat or tears then it wasn’t worth pursuing in the first place. Nothing that comes easy ever has a really great story attached to it.
  7. Eat your way to the top. Always be mindful of your health. Know your energy limits and eat when you are hungry. Your journey depends on you actually getting to the end of it alive and well.

Please visit this list for more destiny to- do’s.

When all is said and done destiny is very much like the chaos theory or the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect simply means that the tiniest influence on one part of a system or plan can have a huge effect on another part down the road. Your destiny will have details to it that will undoubtedly impact your preconceived outcome and will also then affect someone along the way. It did for me when Matthew decided to take his destiny in his own hands and it did for him when one small fluctuation changed everything. It wasn’t just the act itself that impacted me as his mom but the way in which he lets his heart decide his next steps when the butterfly affects his plans.

Call to Action 

“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.” – Chris Hadfield


If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

Hold That Line

“Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

With proper maintenance the car will last for many years. It seems a no brainer to understand this statement. Change the oil every 3-5,000 miles, change the filters too, change the tires when needed and maintain the proper air pressure, etc. The funny thing is we do it. We spend a ton of hard earned money on this vehicle that gets us to where we need to be at any given time of day and so we have to take good care of it if we are to get our monies worth and have it last as long as possible. No one wants to start a car payment over again if they can help it.

So this concept begs the question why don’t we think this way when it comes to ourselves?

“The biggest enemies of willpower are temptation, self-criticism and stress. These 3 skills: self-awareness, self-care and remembering what matters most are the foundation for self-control.”  

Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

In this 5th installment of change we look closely at maintenance. According to Drs. Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente and their book, Changing For Good, “No less important than action, maintenance is often far more difficult to achieve. Successful change means change that is sustained over time, not months, but years, decades, a lifetime. Maintenance is another busy, active period of change, one that requires you to learn new coping methods. Getting there is half the battle.” (Pg. 204 CFG)

Why all the fuss about maintenance? Why should we hold the line so stringently? I believe it is because it is easy to slip up. How many times have you lost weight from dieting over 6 months and you are so proud of the way you look that you think you’ve got this dieting thing down pat and started to relax the way you eat for a week only to find that now you feel and look as undone as when you started? This is called action without maintenance. The flaw in the human character is really that no one wants to work too hard to hold the line and keep up with the changes they have made. Hard work is too hard to sustain forever. Some people give up on the hard work and think, “See, I knew I couldn’t really change; it’s too hard.”

“There are 2 factors that are fundamental to successful maintenance: sustained, long-term effort, and a revised lifestyle.” (Pg. 204 CFG)

In the last post where I discussed the action step we learned about the concept of countering. Countering is basically all about how to replace a bad, negative, problematic behavior with a better, positive, more productive behavior and/or way of thinking. If you were even close to successful in learning to replace and get busy with the new behavior and new thinking patterns then this is where maintenance picks up steam. Temptation takes a starring role here.

“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.” – George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

“The most common threats to maintenance are:

*Social pressures: Those around you that engage in the problem you are trying to change or they don’t recognize the negative impact on you.

*Internal Challenges: Results from overconfidence and forms of defective thinking and self-blame.

 *Special Circumstances:  When you are confronted by an unusual, intense temptation.” (Pg. 206 CFG)

Here is an example of a challenge I faced while in the maintenance step.

I came home from having had the surgery and went through the motions of recovery. My overall goal however was to change the way I wanted to live my entire life. I wanted to live with more presence, to feel proud of what I saw in the mirror, to have a more enlightened and positive perspective,  to improve my attitude about myself inside and out.

I had started a diet, I had the surgery, and I started looking into a career change. I was heavily into a lot of action steps and feeling really good about each moment that produced positive, productive results. When the recovery time had ended from the surgery I felt proud of myself for having done it. I did start to see physical changes that encouraged me, however; the diet thing was harder than I thought.

I had to pull out all the stops and maintain a positive perspective with visual reminders all around me. That is how my “wallpaper” started. I am a visual person as most artists are and I found that by surrounding myself with words of inspiration I could visually and mentally use these amazing quotes and sayings to empower me to keep pushing forward despite the hardship I was going through. It was my way of always recommitting to the changes I wanted so desperately to make.

I kept these visual reminders close to me and the more I would read them the more I would come to believe them and let them sink into my soul. This also led to the “Whispers from my Wallpaper” blog post project. I found that in order for me to know for sure that these words were getting through and taking hold I needed to write about them.

Everyone will have their own way of using maintenance to help guide them through the difficult moments after action steps have fallen a bit behind. However maintenance is just another form of an action step. How long did it take for you to realize that a change was needed in your life?

  Forgive yourself for your impatience and allow for the rest of your life to unfold in this new lifestyle you are desperate and determined to create. Remember what you didn’t like that led you to want to make a change and keep reminding yourself of that so you can start from where you are now and keep moving forward.

“It is difficult to prepare for the extreme, the accidental, and the unexpected. This is what makes maintenance such a great challenge.” (Pg. 208 CFG)

Maybe you are not strong in thinking of ways to meet the challenges of maintenance. Here are a couple of ways that could help:

**Keep a journal: Write down ways that you found your day or week to be difficult. Review the list you made when you were thinking about what you wanted to change. On a third list write down ways that you chose to recommit to the changes you wanted to make and if it worked or not. Refer to the 3 lists at the first sign of difficulty. These lists will act very much like the visual I created for myself with my wallpaper. “A successful reinvention doesn’t happen when you hate the person you are. It happens when you love yourself enough to believe that you can do better and deserve better.” – Dr. Phil

  **Take all the credit. Maintenance is not the time to criticize yourself for having a problem toward change. It is a time to take all the credit for recognizing the need and doing something about it. Sure, there will be times when you come up against difficulties that you didn’t think you would have to deal with but by recommitting to your goal you are allowing yourself to forgive the temptations and the weakness you might feel and stand up tall again. Take all the credit you can for the hard work you are putting in.

“Live the life that you choose, not the life you think was assigned to you.” – Dr. Phil

So, we’ve looked at the idea of creating alternatives to help put power and control in your hands when a sense of relapse is creeping its way inside. Here are some ways to counter that feeling of relapse:

  Create a new lifestyle: Make time for doing things that you’ve always wanted to do but have denied yourself until now. By allowing the time to attend to the fun things you build resistance to relapse and boost your happiness and empowerment. “Learn to enjoy the way as much as you would enjoy when you reach the destination.” Sakshi Chetana, Laughing Buddha: The Alchemy of Euphoric Living.


 “Stop with the negative waves Moriarty”: So says Donald Sutherland in the wacky, funny movie Kelly’s Heroes. Negative self-talk is a serious problem and a very hard habit to break. Review over and over as often as you need to and make sure that you are always being honest with yourself. “Try giving up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just some of them, and see how doing that changes your life. You don’t need negative thoughts. All they have ever given you was a false self that suffers. They are all lies.” –Gina Lake, What About Now?: Reminders for Being in the Moment


  No slip zone: Slip-ups are most likely the result of stress or not so strong coping skills. What would life be without up and down, good and bad, black and white, yes or no? How would we truly appreciate the good things without a reminder of what the bad feels like or looks like? Slip-ups happen because we are human. But remember forgiveness is important here. Recognize the slip-up, don’t deny it or hide from it. You might miss your old habits or behaviors and so you should allow for some mourning. This process lets you know that your new self is close at hand and recognizes that it doesn’t need old problems to get in the way. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist