There are you are, going along OK in your life, no big dramas, no crises, but frankly, not a lot of joy, either. Oh, you can’t complain, as a matter of fact that’s what you hear yourself say most of the time. When friends say “How’s it going?” you say “Can’t complain.” So why are you bored and restless at the same time? Why does it seem that everyone else is living an exciting, or at the very least an interesting life, while yours is going nowhere fast?

You have a job you don’t particularly like, but then you don’t really dislike it either. You’re in a relationship with someone you like well enough, but sparks don’t fly, never have, come to think of it. When you look out there into “the Future,” otherwise known as the rest of your life, you just see more of the same. And even though it doesn’t look like much, it doesn’t look bad, and you figure, well, things will pretty much go along in the same way they have while the years keep slipping by. After all, what can you do? Whatever happens, happens, you figure – not a whole lot you can do about it.

Really? Well then you’d better get ready to be bored and restless for the rest of your days, for if you don’t believe that you can do something about your future, then you’re right, “whatever happens, happens.” When you don't direct your Future, if you don't actively take charge of it, "whatever happens" is indeed what you will get. When you believe that the Future is just "what happens to you tomorrow" you're not in charge of your life. You can't create that Future you would like (when you let yourself actually think about it) unless you're willing to be in charge of it.

Believing that the Future happens to you, rather than the Future being something you create, is very disempowering. It limits your ability to be proactive, to seek out and actually develop a Future that’s meaningful to you, fun for you, enjoyable for you. With this type of belief, you only see those possibilities that others open up to you - and that is a very limiting set of possibles, indeed. Your future becomes dependent on the whims of others. That's an iffy road to personal success and happiness, at best.

You see, your Future is going to be created by someone or something. The “whatever” does have someone at the helm. When we're young, by default it's our parents or other caretaker. At 10 years old, you don't get to make decisions such as "I'm not going to school next year," or "I'm moving to Omaha to make a better life for myself." Kids don't have much choice in such matters. But by the time you're grown, it's you - or whoever/whatever you're allowing to do the job for you. If you want the rest of your life to be exciting, to be interesting, to be something really worth living, then it’s up to you to recognize first that you are in charge of your future. Then you can do something about it!

Belief comes first. Your belief that you can do something to chart the course of your life precedes your ability to do so. Anything you focus on grows. Start noticing all the ways, big and small, that you are in charge of your life. Notice how every time you make a choice, you are in fact determining the next few moments of your life. String enough choices together, and you’ve determined the course of the next day, week, month, year.

There’s no need to stay in an OK life, where your everyday consists largely of “Can’t complain.” Start making different choices, shore up your belief in those choices determining how your life unfolds, and then – go for the gusto. Make choices that reflect who you want to be, what you really want to be doing with your life, and watch “Can’t complain” turn into “Great! Thank you!”

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, consultant, speaker and author. Her most recent book is "The Power of Appreciation in Business (MindLab Publishing, 2005). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives--at work, at home and in relationships. Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at or