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cartoon by Lon LevinAs the new year approaches we all start to reflect on the year, the positives, the negatives etc. This year has been especially profound for me as I move forward with my life and career. I had no idea in the beginning of the year that I would be producing a digital magazine and blog that was  and is designed to further the information flow to other like-minded people. In the process I have learned a lot about the illustration world I work in. I am astounded by how much I don’t know and through this vehicle I have educated myself. I will continue to do that so that I can update and write about subject matter that is helpful and informative to us all. That is my commitment to you, the readers. So, in that spirit I wanted to repost this terrific piece about defining moments by Mark Susnow who is a life coach and a good friend of the Illustrators Journal.

A short note about a defining moment for me which came after a health problem I had in September of 2009. Without going into detail I had a surgery that could’ve gone either way. Fortunately for me I survived. I woke up in my room maybe a half day after the surgery and immediately realized I had to change my life. From that moment on I have dedicated myself to being the best artist I can be and to help others reach their goals as well. This is the root of why the Illustrators Journal came to life. I am grateful to all the readers and visitors who come to the site and I hope the information I’ve provided has been helpful and entertaining. So stay in touch because it’s only going to get better!

From Mark Susnow’s Inspire the Possibilities blog…

Take a second and think about your life. Think about who you are, what you are doing and the people in your life. How satisfied are you? All of your past experiences, the people you have met and the choices you have made have contributed to who you are. Without any of these experiences you wouldn’t be who you are today. Your beliefs about what is possible in your life are a reflection of these past experiences. Those moments from the past have also prepared you for the fast pace of the modern world. You have more choices than you realize. You also have more strengths than you realize. You can change how you think, what you do and who you hang out with.

Part of discovering who you are and what you are capable of requires you to reflect upon some of the key moments from your past. We all have experienced “defining moments.” Those moments that define who you are and what you stand for. Those moments that help you create clarity about your life purpose and your life values. Sometimes those moments are in response to life’s challenges. It’s when you rise to the occasion. It’s when you become the person you always wanted to be.

And at other times those moments are in the form of challenges. Challenges that force you to make a decision that ultimately determines your character and your destiny. To help you in this process of remembering and discovering I will share with you some defining moments that have contributed to my journey.

Expanding my sense of personal power was at the core. What I mean by personal power is the ability to create the life you want by expanding what is possible. It’s the ability to consciously determine your life path and to stay on purpose. It’s making a commitment to your self and keeping it. Staying on purpose requires you to say “no” to the distractions and influences that are taking you off course. This involves discipline and though challenging for almost everyone is essential. I was a smoker while in college and in law school. I wanted to quit but wasn’t ready to stop. As I was preparing for the bar exam I set up a personal challenge. I knew if I was successful with this challenge my sense of personal power would be expanded. I quit smoking the day before the bar exam. Although I failed the bar exam the first time and had to take it again, I have never smoked a cigarette since. This defining moment expanded my belief in what was possible in my life.

Developing a clear sense of boundaries was the next building block. When I was a young lawyer and struggling, I had planned a trip to Greece and Israel with my girl friend. It was going to be my first vacation since I started practicing law. My biggest client who gave me a sense of financial security wanted me to change my plans so I could complete his project sooner. He let me know that if I didn’t comply with his wishes he would get someone else.
The time on my calendar was already blocked out and if I didn’t take the vacation now who knew when I would have another chance. I went ahead with the trip and the client got another lawyer. This defining moment for me established at a young age the importance of personal boundaries. It also established for me the importance of living a life in balance which has always been one of my strengths.

Making the decision to take time for quiet reflection was the next step. When I was 29 my life was falling apart. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. And because of what I was experiencing I was the most open and vulnerable. The next defining moment was when I decided to begin meditating. Regardless of how busy I was or what was going on in my life I always began my day with this practice. This practice has helped me integrate my many interests and responsibilities.

All of these moments as well as many others have contributed to who I am today. Of course there have been continual challenges since then and the ride has had its share of ups and downs. But what helps me get through these challenges are the decisions that I made in the “defining moments from the past.” They have helped give me the inner strength and faith to navigate the challenging waters of life’s journey.

I bet if you reflect back upon your life, you will discover your own defining moments. After you have revisited them, build upon them to help you discover your destiny.

Imagine making a decision today or tomorrow that can potentially define the direction your life takes in the future. What will this decision be? When will you make it? Let me know.