This is a question of function and form. Because we need to function in the external world to survive, we have no choice when it comes to doing (at least) some things. The things we do, in their totality, come to express our values and beliefs. They come to represent our mindset and attitude. So, in short, they are a faithful representation of us and who we are.
The choices we make lead to decisions we take. The decisions, in turn, lead to actions. Actions take energy to implement. The energy we spend eventually determines what is important to us. Our priorities reveal our values and our values show our beliefs.
This is how we get, in reverse, from the visible, practical things we can observe to the immaterial and invisible things that guide us.
The world’s greatest religions make the exact same point in maxims that stress how your actions tell more about your values, beliefs and who you are than any amount of professing does:
“Behave toward everyone as if receiving a great guest.” – Confucius
“By their deeds you will know them. Does a man gather grapes from thorns or figs from briars?” - Matthew 7:16
“The deed itself is entirely good character, so whoever surpasses you in character has surpassed you in deed.” – Quran
Because function is inevitable: we need to act in order to survive, the form we eventually take is either defined by the external world, i.e. what is imposed upon us by circumstances and the expectations of others, or it is created by us.
If it is the former we may soon find our self experiencing into greater and greater cognitive dissonance as we try to reconcile what we do with what we really want to do, who we are becoming with the person we want to become. If it is the latter, we have greater control. We also have greater responsibility. If things turn out wrong and our life becomes a mass of regrets we have no one to blame but our self.
The bottom line here is that if you don't choose who you want to be it is chosen for you. If you don't make decisions they are made for you. if you are not in control you are being controlled.
This is the countdown to the release of Intentional: How to Live, Love, Work and Play Meaningfully. You can find a few more details about it here.
Each day of the countdown I will release one truth. So here’s the third one:
“You define your goals. They don’t define you.”