Does Having a Sense of Destiny Help Create Success?



Sometimes I get the feeling I am destined to do something great. It’s hard to explain, but it’s as if I’m meant to do something before I die and I don’t know quite what that is yet. Most of the time, I shrug it off as my own ego. I’m not someone who really believes in fate.

But there does seem to be something beneficial about having a sense of destiny. I’ve heard many people claim their key to success was their undying belief that they would make it. It’s as if they knew they would succeed no matter what.

Your Future Destiny

Thinking of yourself as destined for something inherently means thinking about the future. It’s having a belief that your ending point will inevitably be something better than where you are now. You don’t know exactly how you’ll get there, but eventually you’ll get to that final point. You just know it.

All this thinking is done despite the fact that the future is unwritten and ultimately unknowable. You can make plans and preparations about what you think will happen, but it’s very likely that you’ll just have to change them as events unfold. The only thing you can say is certain about the future is that it is uncertain. Even people paid to make predictions about the future get it wrong most of the time.

But disregarding the future because it is unknowable and unpredictable can be really limiting. It’s as if you’re saying that the future has no direct impact on who you are now as a person. I can see how many people would think that. After all, who expects their own future to have a direct influence on the person you are today.

Your Future Self and You Now

It is true that events in the future can’t really impact who you are now. To say something you haven’t even experienced yet can make a difference to who you are now seems ridiculous. It would be like saying a book changed your life before even reading it. It doesn’t work that way.

But it’s not the events of the future that can influence you now. It’s the idea in your head now about what you are going to be like in the future that can make a difference. If you see yourself in the future as inevitably becoming something, you’re more likely to achieve it.

When you see yourself in the future, you’re using your imagination to create what you want to become. Even though this person you’re imagining is the future you, it can still impact who you are today. It’s been shown that imagination can have a bigger effect on your mind than you realize.

For example, a study was done on Junior High basketball players. They split a group of players into three groups and had them practice free throws. One group practiced every day, another did nothing at all and the last group sat on a bench and only imagined shooting free throws. When the experiment concluded, the accuracy of the group that practiced and the group who only used imagination was about even. The group who did nothing fell far behind in accuracy.

Having a sense of destiny uses your imagination. You see yourself in the future completing your task and becoming something amazing. Whatever it is you’re thinking about, all that imagination about where you want to go can build up. Ultimately it can effect you just as much as it did those basketball players.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Another reason that having a senses of destiny can help create success lies in a psychological concept called the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is when your prediction about something inevitably causes it to become true. An example of this would be someone who falsely believes they will have a bad day. They alter their behavior patterns enough to make it become true.

I’m sure many of you have heard about this concept before. But I doubt that you realize how it can affect effect you in a positive way. If you believe something positive will happen to you, you can alter your behavior pattern to make that prediction happen. And that’s basically what having a sense of destiny means.

A big part of how this happens comes from how people process beliefs. In a recent study, researchers found that beliefs and facts are treated the same way in the brain. Apparently, people see a belief as equal to facts. So if you believe something will happen to you in the future, your brain sees this as a fact despite knowing that it hasn’t happened yet.

It’s Your Destiny

Having a strong sense of destiny can keep you focused on your goals. All that focus directs you closer toward your goals since you’re constantly working out how to get to that point. Any setbacks can be shrugged off because of that strong belief you will succeed. In effect, your sense of destiny can keep you persistent as you struggle to get where you feel you should be. It’s like having a built-in mechanism preventing you from quitting.

Having a mechanism to stop you from quitting would be incredibly useful since many failures occur simply because people give up. It does explain why many successful people say they “just knew” they’d succeed. I still don’t really believe in fate, but I have been believing more in myself for the future.

Do you see yourself doing something in the future? Have you ever felt destined to do something?
photo credit: spacepleb

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  1. Steve,
    Great job on the research for this article.
    I really found the example about the basketball players interesting. This is why positive feedback is so crucial. It can help establish our mindset.

    I was talking to my son about something similar to this yesterday. He is just 15 and he is a teenager. need i say more about how moody he is.

    Anyway, for the last week he’s been spreading bad MO-JO and bad MO-JO is contagious. When he is in one of his moods, I start believing that the day is going to “suck” too (not my words, his). And it quite literally ruins my day. I need to just let it pass through my mind and repeat “today is going to be great”.

    • I know what you mean about bad Mojo being contagious. Just spend enough time around someone who’s spreading that around and you’ll start to feel a little bad too. While it is ok to be in a bad mood once in awhile, it can really lead to bad things if that is all you think about. You’re right that positive feedback is crucial. A good positive mindset can really help you out in the long run.

  2. Hi there, Steve!

    I think it is a process of evolution. If we are meant to do something great, we will be forged to achieve it through life’s experiences.

    The idea of visualization is one that’s very documented and beneficial as well.

    I find it interesting that you take into account behavioural psychological patterns. The mind is a powerful thing, and it makes me think of the reticular activation system.

    I believe fully in the power of our imagination. Heck, look around you and you see its power. It’s not about what we can realize and accept as so – called ‘facts’, it’s about what we can accept about ourself.

    • You raise some very interesting points. I agree that imagination can be a powerful thing. You can see it’s power everywhere. And sometimes our experiences have a powerful impact on us and can forge us to succeed.

  3. I don’t have any sense of destiny, I realized as I was reading this. I do have goals and work toward them, but I’ve never had the feeling I’m supposed to end up doing or being something. I wonder what percent of people feel like they have a destiny. If a study were ever done to determine the percentage, I think the number would vary drastically worldwide. I think more Americans, for example, would have a sense of destiny than, say, Egyptians. In the countries where people are used to having opportunities I imagine senses of destiny would be wider spread. But this is a little bit off the topic.

    I think this is a great post, Steve. All of your posts require introspection and contemplation to answer. That’s always a good thing!

    • Hey Sabina, I would find a study about that really interesting too. You are probably right that Americans feel more destined to do something. I’d like to see a poll done on that and see if it has any effects on the people in it. I imagine you’re right that people used to more opportunities would probably have a higher sense of destiny. It really would be an interesting read.

  4. Hey Steve,

    I find it so interesting that you (and pretty much everyone else) dismisses the idea that we’re here to do something great as a figment of our ego. We’re so afraid of getting big heads (and we’ve always been told to avoid it at all costs) that we simply refuse to recognize our own greatness. Arrogance is believing you are greater than everyone else. But if you believe we are all destined for greatness, it’s not ego. It’s figuring out who and what we really are. Which is awesome.

    I love the point you made about expectations. There’s an awesome TED video by Viktor Frankl that makes this point so much for eloquently than I ever could. I dug it out for you:

    Huge hugs!

    • Great point, Melody. Having a sense of destiny or greatness isn’t a bad thing or ego. It’s a great thing to have as long as you don’t think you’re better than everyone else. I think arrogance like that is taking your sense of destiny to an extreme. As long as we can stop from getting carried away with our sense of destiny, we shouldn’t be afraid of getting big heads.

      And thanks for the link to the TED talk. I’ve seen many TED talks, but I haven’t watched that one before. Very interesting.

  5. Ahh, the question that still plagues me up to now “What am I here for?” It’s actually the reason why I chose the domain of my site. We all fly solo to find our purpose. I also don’t think that it’s our ego telling us that we’re worth something which is why we believe we’re destined for greatness. It just goes to show that we value ourselves which is why we think positively that something will happen so long as do something about it.

    • Ed, I like the point you made about valuing yourself. If you value yourself enough, you feel like you can do anything. That can be a really empowering idea to have about yourself. A belief in your own value and that you can do anything can really break down your limits and take you places.

  6. Hi Steve,

    I believe that we decide our destiny. We need to dream this first in order to start the process.

    BTW, Thought I let you know that I have nominated you as one of my sunshine bloggers. Your writing will always inspire me.

    Please check this out and spread the love after.

    • Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks for the nomination; I’m glad my writing inspires you.

      Dreaming is an important part of the process. It can be a big positive first step in deciding your destiny.

  7. Michael Sellars says:

    “…as long as you don’t think you are better than anyone else…”

    We will have to agree to disagree on this. I don’t think all ideas are equal, nor that all people are equal. I agree with the founding fathers that “all people are created equal…” but we certain don’t remain equal. For example, I don’t steal. That means to me and probably to you that I am a better person than those who do steal. My ideas about theft are better than those who think theft is okay. It’ s called a sense of moral superiority or moral rectitude. The first Americans believed they had ideas worth sharing. Their sense of moral rectitude contributed to their sense of destiny

    Michael Sellars

    • Well, to be fair, I didn’t say “better than anyone else”, I said “better than everyone else”. My comment was about arrogance, not equality.

      I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that I think all ideas and people are equal. Many ideas are better than others. People can always better themselves too.

  8. Just discovered this post, a good read! Like the bit about beliefs and facts being treated as one in the brain. A sense of future greatness certainly sets the right events in motion. Positive beliefs motivate persistence. Persistent action is energy, and all energy has an effect. It results in the very success that seemed unknowable at first.

    You’ll like these great quotes, they illustrate your point :
    – “I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.” – Warren Buffett
    – “​For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him, he must regard himself as greater than he is.” – Goethe
    – “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” – Chinese proverb
    – “The giants of the race have been men of concentration, who have struck sledgehammer blows in one place until they have accomplished their purpose. The successful men of today are men of one overmastering idea, one unwavering aim, men of single and intense purpose.”

    • It doesn’t surprise me that Warren Buffett knew that he was going to be rich. I can see a guy like him having that sense of destiny at an early age.

      Setting the right events in motion is right. Having that positive belief can be a powerful force. When you’ve already decided what course you’re meant for, all that is needed is to get going on it. Persistence can work wonders.

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