I wrote a song with a chorus that went, “I keep circling back, keep circling back just to get another heartache.” The reality is life can be just like that – like riding a painted, wooden horse on a merry-go-round, circling round and round with lots of movement but going nowhere, always ending in the same location where it all began. That’s not merry, that’s frustrating.
However, most people are experiencing this lifestyle. They wake up frustrated, drive to work frustrated, spend eight hours at a frustrating job, drive home in frustrating evening rush hour traffic, and arrive to a frustrating family. The next morning, they repeat it – going in circles yet going nowhere. I hope that’s not your life. If it is, you need an exit strategy from this “gerbil in a cage” mentality.
Don’t become a victim of your circumstances which form an invisible circular prison around you, keeping you from seeing or reaching your full potential.
Dare to dream big dreams of success. Don’t let growing up in poverty cause you to be poverty minded. Take classes that will help you qualify for a better and higher paying job. If your circle of friends are negative, unmotivated, crude, or substance abusers, find the nearest exit off that merry-go-round and seek new ones. Look for people who you admire – those with vision who are successful and doing great things. If you have issues in your marriage, befriend a couple who have been happily married for many years and ask them to mentor you.
My parents didn’t have a happy marriage because my dad was physically abusive, which eventually led to them getting a divorce. My wife’s parents were divorced twice. Our circle of circumstances said, “Your parents were divorced, your friends are divorced, and statistics say, over 65 percent of all marriages end in divorce,” but we were determined not to board the divorce merry-go-round.
Before marrying, my wife Tami and I agreed to do all we could and learn all we could to insulate our marriage against that vicious cycle of divorce. We attended marriage classes and had mentors. One mentoring couple, Frank and Bunny Wilson, demonstrated the beauty of a happy marriage. I observed every time Frank was speaking to an individual or to an audience, Bunny was dreamy-eyed, like a high school girl with a crush. She gazed at him like he was a “Happy Meal.” I thought to myself, “I would love to have a wife admire me the way Bunny admires Frank.” Due to Frank and Bunny’s mentoring, my wife and I have been happily married for 38 years. I can truly say my prayers were answered: the cycle of divorce in our family has been broken.
Emmitt had an abusive dad. When he was a child, his father brutally whipped him one evening with a vacuum cord and he had to escape to safety at his aunt’s house. He didn’t graduate from high school and had to earn a GED. He worked odd jobs and lived in his car. His life was so painful that at one time he tried to commit suicide. His circle of circumstances could have led him down a road of failure and poverty, but Emmitt found his exit strategy.
In his early 20s, while watching the Oprah Winfrey talk show, he was inspired by an author’s description of how writing can have therapeutic effects. He saw this as a life changer, and his writing career was birthed. He even changed his name. His first musical, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” was a financial failure, but he refused to give up. On his second attempt, the play sold out. In 2010, Forbes magazine named Tyler Perry the second highest earning man in Hollywood.
Today is YOUR day to break the circle of circumstances and get off that merry-go-round. It’s a new year and time for a new beginning and a new you. So, hit the ground running and don’t stop until you achieve your dream!
Clarence R. “Clay” Drayton is an American songwriter, arranger, and producer best known for his work at Motown. He was the arranger on Diana Ross’s certified gold record Love Hangover. Clay is a motivational speaker living in the Inland Empire and is represented by Luminary Leaders (www.luminaryleaders.com).