Life Doesn’t Just Happen for Us…We Shape It

When I was a child, about 9 or 10 years old, I took a pottery class at our local art museum. I remember loving this 2-hour once a week class; I was enamored by the process of it. I found it fascinating how an ordinary lump of clay that wasn’t attractive at all could be shaped and molded into a beautiful piece of art.  

Week after week I shaped my lump of clay with patience and persistence, focusing on the vision I had for it. Eventually I created a vase that I painted cobalt blue. The end result was highly gratifying to me. I was so happy with what I had created.  

Many (many 😊) years later, I now think about this pottery class and all the shaping that I did to that lump of clay, and it seems to me that this is a metaphor for life.   

Life, so to speak, is a lump of clay and we are responsible for what shape it ultimately takes.  

Just like in my art class, we must have a vision of what we want to create; the kind of life experience we want to have and the type of legacy we want to leave behind. The vision part is typically the easy (or easier) part. The more challenging part is the shaping of our vision because this requires action on our part.  

Whenever consistent forward-moving action is required, we tend to inwardly resist. Unfortunately, this is human nature for many of us. 

Health shaping means incorporating things into our lives regularly that creates forward movement towards our overall goals. We may not incorporate these things every single day because it’s not realistic to do so, but we certainly circle back to them often with a set intention.  

For example, if I think about my life, my faith and relationship with God is extremely important to me; it’s a top value in my life. I would even say it is the most important priority in my life because I know and understand that if my faith is strong and my relationship with God is nurtured and intimate, then by default, everything else in my life will benefit.  

My faith and relationship with God will not naturally grow by itself though; I must shape my life towards this overall goal and value. This means that on a frequent and consistent basis, I must make it a priority to spend time with God. In this area shaping looks like reading my Bible, listening to faith-based and spiritual podcasts, going to church, listening to praise music, praying, meditating, journaling, and have spiritual conversations with those who are close to me like my husband and children. If I was not shaping my life in this way, and removed all these elements, my faith and relationship with God would not be what they are. They would not be growing with each passing year…they would be the opposite- stagnant or even non-existent.  

Healthy shaping requires set intention. So many times, we think, daydream, and imagine all the things we want for our life. While we may have a grand vision for what we want, we hit roadblocks for many reasons. We get pulled and distracted by the business and chaos of our schedules, or by things that look shinier. We get lost in social media and the comparison mindset and become demotivated. We fail to prioritize and instead, procrastinate. We talk endlessly but act little.  

To shape our lives towards what we truly want, we must not only set intention but find ways to actively follow through with this intention. Healthy shaping takes consistent, persistent ACTION towards our overall goal.  

Healthy shaping can look like:  

  • Daily routine and structure.  
  • Follow through and completion of action items. 
  • Limiting screen time.  
  • Waking up on the first alarm. NO snooze.  
  • Adequate and restful sleep.  
  • Regular exercise.  
  • Eating well and limiting alcohol.  
  • Inner, self-work and growth mindset.  
  • Creating to-do lists or mind maps. 
  • Surrounding yourself with like-minded, growth-oriented people. 
  • Frequently taking inventory of progress, and reassessing goals.  
  • Punctuality.  
  • Gratitude.  
  • Being solution focused.  
  • Saying no to things that will distract or detour you from your overall goals… even if they seem good/well intentioned.  
  • Vocalizing goals and asking someone to help you stay accountable.  

There is also unhealthy shaping. This kind of shaping does the opposite- it takes us away from our overall goals.  

Unhealthy shaping can look like:  

  • Consistently hitting snooze on the alarm.  
  • Spending too much idle time on social media.  
  • Validating procrastination.  
  • Engaging in regular gossip and low frequency conversations.  
  • Eating poorly and consuming too much alcohol.  
  • Poor time management.  
  • Inability to focus and complete what has been started. 
  • Being problem focused.  
  • Disorganization.  
  • Unhealthy mindsets like victim mentality or perfectionism.  
  • Saying yes to too many things.  
  • Focusing on the negative rather than the positive.  
  • Lack of gratitude.  

Whether we realize it or not, we are all shaping our lives… every single day. The question becomes how are we shaping?  

Are we moving towards the life we envision for ourselves? Or, have we become stagnant and unknowingly begun shaping in a way that does not best serve us? Often, we are unaware of the unhealthy shaping that is going on in our daily lives. The first step towards changing this is simply seeing and accepting that we need to shape different.  

If the latter is true, then accept this truth and then do something about it. Shaping our lives is our responsibility and something only we can do; no one can do this for us. This involves a few important steps.   

  1. Become aware of unhealthy shaping patterns and decide how to counter them. Set intention to do things differently.  
  2. Create action. This is the key step. Words without action are empty.  
  3. Be consistent. Any and all progress requires consistency. Eliminate the start and stop pattern from your life.  

No matter where we are in life, we can choose to shape our lives in a better, healthier way. We can create a beautiful piece of art just like I did in my art class.  

What can you shape differently or in a better way to create the life you envision for yourself?  


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