By Paul Winter


I’ve got a tattoo around my right wrist.

A quote from an old mentor of mine, it reads: “I shape my own life.”

This simple statement of affirmation has led me through many situations and scenarios where otherwise I might have stumbled and fallen into a victim mindset – looking for someone or something to blame for my  current state of affairs.

In the current political landscape, and common narratives of our time, nothing seems to be the individual’s “fault.”

Addicted? It’s a disease.

Overweight? If it ain’t a thyroid issue, you’re healthy the way you are and anyone who says otherwise is an oppressor.

Terrible behavior? Self-diagnose with some kind of disorder and tell people it’s an illness, and they have to respect it.

In all this finger-pointing, “poor me,” victim-of-my-circumstances reasoning and logic – what if we just took responsibility for all of the things in our lives?


Whether or not we had any control over them.

Whether or not we would rather just be absolved of every failing and weakness and shortcoming by hitting the easy button.


What if, instead, we looked all of it dead in the eye and said: “I shape my own goddamn life,” and then set about doing just that?

There is a massive force and power in the individual taking total ownership over his every situation and circumstance and denying the current programming of the blame game, and instead choosing to terraform the landscape of their life.


Every good thing, every bad thing in your existence so far, it’s all raw material on the anvil within the Forge.

You’ve got the hammer – that’s your willpower. Don’t like something the way it is?

Turn up the heat on it, focus your attention on that thing, and beat it into a new form through the relentless force of that hammer.

Tired of the way you look?

Feed the furnace – establish a protocol and attack with ferocity and consistency, and a completely altered thing will emerge from the Forge over time. It will be the “you” that you yourself deliberately shaped, rather than the one shaped by circumstance and lack of agency.

Frustrated with some aspect of your life, or yourself?

Man the bellows, and crank the fires up high with clean fuel.

Focus on what it is you want to change. See its ugliness and the bad, flawed iron shot through it, and start to heat it and beat it. Right there before your very eyes, you *will* see change, as long as you continue to swing that hammer of will.

There are very few problems that cannot be solved in your life by turning your fire up hot enough and applying sheer, brutal, unstoppable willpower to them.

You are in control.

You are the one making the decisions.

It may not be your fault, but goddamn if it ain’t your responsibility to *change it.*

Finally, you may be dealing with that most daunting of problems.

The very fire of the Forge itself has nearly gone out, and barely an ember remains. You feel cold, like ashes, and you feel unable to stir the embers to flame, to the heat needed for transformation.

There is only one edict for this problem:


Movement, friction, stress – all these create the atomic movement from which heat is produced.

Get mad, get moving, put yourself under pressure to accomplish through accountability and the positive stress created from there.

Remember how to roar from the depths of your being, and reject all that’s beating you down with a singular howl of pure fury – and with the energy that rises from that simple “no,” the embers stir.

The coals smoke.

Keep going, feed them with little victories, and keep stoking them with deep breath and forward movement.

Soon, the coal will flicker to life, and the flame will be reborn, hotter than before, as you stack wins into the inferno and it burns hotter and hotter.

Transform into who you were meant to be, who you always wanted to be!


What will it look like?

Start swinging that hammer.