When I was a kid my mom and I had some pretty intense battles of will. She wanted me to do things her way and I had my own ideas. Eventually, I came around to her way of thinking.

We had different interests and pursuits, but we had the same basic approach to life. We kind of rolled along with whatever came our way and then muddled through the best we could.

I didn’t learn anything about taking control of my life from either of my parents. We all did just enough to get the most basic result and never intended for anything more.

Mom and I were close when I was in college and for the years to follow. She got her inheritance early. She needed a buddy to hang out with. I was available. We had some great adventures. I will always be grateful for those times.

Things were quite good enough back then and there was never any reason to get serious about trying to make anything happen. I had a busy life that I mostly enjoyed. Mom always helped me out financially if I needed it. It never occurred to me to look at what I was doing with my life and what kind of future I was creating for myself.

The years went by and some things changed. There were still good times but life got a little more complicated.

Because I had never bothered to make a plan for my life, I made life altering choices on barely more than the flip of a coin.

Some of those choices proved to be big mistakes and they knocked me down lower than I ever thought I could go. When I found myself depressed and feeling like a complete failure (divorced, jobless, broke), I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to fix it. But I figured out pretty quickly that I needed to do something different than I had ever done before. I needed to take responsibility for my life.

And that is what I have been trying to do for the past few years. I’ve become addicted to learning and I’m working very hard at creating the life I want.

I still struggle. The old ways are deeply ingrained and hard to reprogram. My progress seems slow at times and it’s convenient to fall back into familiar habits.

Sometimes it’s hard being around my family. They aren’t interested in making the kinds of changes I am trying to make. I have to dig deep to find the fortitude to keep pushing myself.

Recently, my mom up and bought my brother a house. He’d been living with her for years. Then she sold her house and moved to an apartment. That left my brother looking to get cozy in his car … That was not acceptable to Mom.

Though I was not involved, I found I had a very strong emotional reaction to Mom’s decision. At first I felt angry that someone else had gotten something and it meant somehow less for me. I know those feelings came from a place of lack – lack of belief in myself – lack of belief in my abilities.

And then I felt hurt – like a sting. Mom and I were supposed to be best friends. It was like she had no appreciation for my struggle and how hard I was working to try and make it on my own.

Finally, I was just disappointed in myself for the way I felt. I thought I’d come further than that with all the personal development work I’ve done. I stewed on it all for a while.

It wasn’t but a few days later that it donned on me.  The universe was merely giving me what I’ve been saying I want – the opportunity to make it on my own.  I was still a little pissed but I had to smile to myself.

Easy is tempting. But it can’t be as sweet as knowing you persisted, did the work and made it through the hard stuff. At least I hope I find that to be true.

I’ve gotten past my initial reaction. Mom’s actions forced me to take a good look at who I want to be. I need to know I have my back. I’m willing to work as hard as I have to. No matter what happens, I will handle it. There is always a solution and I will find it.

It occurs to me that we can learn some of our most profound lessons when circumstances trigger deep emotional responses within us. It’s in those moments that we have the opportunity to make a choice for ourselves. With each choice we either reinforce who we are or we begin to create who we want to become.

I have a plan for my life. I know who I want to be. Right now I am the closest I have been to understanding what it means to ‘go all in’ on something you believe in. Thinking about what my mom did for my brother has actually fueled a determination in me that I did not know was there.

I see how important it is that I keep my focus on the results I want and don’t let anything or anyone stop me. My ‘why’ just got a whole lot more meaningful.

Thanks Mom.