Self-Determination vs. Predetermination


Tom Corley boats - crop

I’m going to get a little philosophical here. Bear with me. There’s an important point I’m trying to make.

There are two opposing schools of thought that divide mankind.

School of Thought #1: Self-Determination Drives Life Circumstances

School of Thought #2: Predetermination Drives Life Circumstances

Those who subscribe to School of Thought #1 believe we are in control of our life circumstances. There is no one out there, no higher power, watching over us, guiding us. Those in this school believe success, wealth, failure and poverty are manufactured. We turn left or right, decide A or B, or do X or Y as a matter of free will, instinct or internal guidance. In other words, the circumstances of our lives are dictated by our own decisions, our own behaviors and the choices that we make. We, in effect, create our own destiny.

Those who subscribe to School of Thought #2 believe we are not in control of our life circumstances. Some higher power is watching over us, determining the circumstances of our lives. Those in this school believe success, wealth, failure and poverty are outside our control. We turn left or right, decide A or B, or do X or Y because some force of nature acts upon us, directing us in every aspect of our lives. In other words, the circumstances of our lives are not determined by us, but by external factors we cannot possibly control. We, in effect, are powerless over the course of our lives.

When you subscribe to School of Thought #1 you embrace the concept that you are in control of your destiny; that you have power over the course of your life. As a result, you develop a mindset of self-reliance. Through hard work and personal initiative you seek to create the life you desire. You pursue lifelong self-education, take calculated risks, seek feedback from others and carefully weigh every decision you make. You search for mentors to help you forge good habits that put you on the right path.

When you subscribe to School of Thought #2 you embrace the concept that your destiny is predetermined; that you are powerless over the course of your life. As a result, you feel you are not in control of your life. You are a mere victim of the luck of the draw. Because you feel you are not in control of your life, you do very little to affect the circumstances of your life. You float along in life like a leaf on a fall day, carried by the wind.

Which are you? Something to think about.


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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. I like that you changed up the wording of this post. I was struggling to have it make sense in my mind when you used the words “destiny” and “chance”. “Self-determination” and “Pre-determination” are much better terms. Thank you!

    • It’s hard sometimes getting the title right. I usually write the content first and then try to figure out what the title should be. This time I did it backwards and messed it up initially. Thankfully, a few readers sent emails to me with their feedback and I was able to clean it up

  2. Nancy Shanabarger says:

    I am Thought #3. I am a mixture of 1 and 2. I believe in a higher power but I’m not going to flout around doing nothing or I’d never get anywhere. God will guild me to the right path He wants me to take and the right people he wants me to meet so I can accomplish a goal. I still have to walk the walk and power tough the tasks to accomplish the goal. Still takes effort, sometimes a lot of effort. But I have someone watching over me and that is a great comfort!

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