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Perspective: Transforming 'It Is What It Is' into Determination

by Amy Pechacek

The phrase "It is what it is" might sound like acceptance, but it often hides a resignation to circumstances that can indeed be changed.

No, it's not as simple as that; it's precisely what you make of it. End of story. I could easily conclude here and carry on with my day, for this encapsulates my philosophy across virtually every facet of life. Regrettably, many individuals genuinely adhere to the notion that life is inherently unchangeable.

However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

This phrase has perplexed me for years. When I hear people utter it, they often do so with an exasperated tone and a shrug of resignation.

"I didn't get the promotion. It is what it is."

"We lost that significant account. It is what it is."

"We won't be able to go on vacation this year. It is what it is."

"My twenty-year marriage has come to an end. It is what it is."

In each of these instances, the speaker is conveying the idea that something important to them, something they desired, didn't pan out, and they either feel disheartened or nonchalant about it.

Otherwise, they would choose different words to convey their sentiment.

"I didn't get the promotion. Now, I need to determine my next step."

"We lost that substantial account. What can we glean from this experience, and how can we avert such losses in the future?"

"We won't be able to go on vacation this year. How can we plan more effectively moving forward?"

"My twenty-year marriage has come to an end. I'm grateful for the lessons learned and am committed to improving in the future."

Notice the difference in the second set of statements. Resignation gives way to determination, resolve, and perhaps even excitement about future possibilities.

Instead of simply accepting an undesirable fate, these individuals may find a spark within them, driving them to take action and make things happen. They refuse to be defeated; they refuse to give up. Setbacks do not topple them.

Three friends talking

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with friends about taking steps to regain control of our lives and the significance of being intentional about our actions, consumption—both physically and emotionally—and our thoughts.

While my friend Trish was discussing how many people resort to alcohol as a coping mechanism, another friend of ours shrugged, chuckled loudly, and interjected, "It is what it is."

Hold on, what?

My head probably did a complete 360-degree turn as I stared directly at Chuck and declared, "It is NOT what it is. It IS what you make it." Silence.

Chuck was evidently caught off guard. Trish and I could see the gears turning as this new and seemingly foreign concept began to register in his mind. More silence. And eventually, a faint smile and a nod of agreement, "I've never thought of it that way."

Perspective: It Is What YOU Make It

It's all about perspective.

Yes, you absolutely have a choice. Instead of resigning yourself to the status quo and allowing life to unfold passively, you have the power to take personal responsibility for your life.

If you’re looking at your life right now, and there is an area that you’re not exuberantly happy with, you’re the only one who can change that. In any given moment and in any given situation, you have a choice. And believe it or not, choosing to make no decision is actually a choice in and of itself.

So, ditch the old adage of "It is what it is," and decide, instead, that "It will be what I make it."

Ultimately, you must make a choice either way. Why not choose resolve?


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