Destiny or Not, That is the Question

Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke
The issue of destiny is loaded question. Nearly everyone wants to believe in the concept.

Atheists may believe that there’s no God, no purpose, and no point to life, but it’s pretty tough living that philosophy out in the day-to-day trenches. The idea of destiny gives us a reason to go on, motivation that our lives matter beyond PTA meetings, job reviews, and visits to the local coffee shop.

The Christian tradition teaches that God has a purpose and plan for our lives. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we have a higher calling and a guide to help us navigate our way through this world and the next.

Non-Christian traditions are no different. I was teaching in India recently and met a group of Hindu scholars discussing their own views about destiny. During a recent trip to the United Kingdom, I noticed the TV news reporting the thousands of spiritualists and New Agers meeting at Stonehenge to welcome the summer solstice.

The topic of discussion? What does Stonehenge have to do with our destiny? Religious or not, most people want to believe they have a purpose for living, and would find it enormously difficult to go on without that knowledge.

So the question remains: Do we have a destiny, and is it possible to discover it? While writing my new book One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do, I reached the conclusion that we don’t have a locked down, concrete, unchanging destiny we were born to accomplish. Destiny isn’t a task. It’s not an end point. It’s not something you can check off a to-do list.

Your destiny is a moving target. An unexpected divorce doesn’t derail your destiny. The soldier who lost his legs in battle hasn’t lost his destiny. Bankruptcy can’t undermine your destiny.

Your purpose is bigger than any obstacle like physical limitations, financial circumstances, being fired, or other failure. Nothing can change the fact that you have a unique reason for being here, and there’s still time to discover it.

I think we’ve spent too much time looking to the idea of destiny as a quick fix, a get-rich scheme, or a stopping point. We think we’ll attend a conference and our destiny will be revealed to us during a workshop or seminar. We hope that it will descend out of the sky or someone will reveal it to us—for only a $49 conference fee.

We have a destiny. We have a purpose. We have one important thing. But it only comes with coaxing, work, and action. Destiny wants to be pursued. It wants to be discovered.

Why? Because it’s in the journey we learn to understand and value what it means.

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Phil Cooke has produced media programming in more than 40 countries around the world. During that time, he has helped some of the largest non-profit organizations in the world navigate periods of dramatic disruption and change.

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