top of page

It is NOT What it Is

It is what it is? No, it is not what it is; it is what you make It.

Period. I could actually stop right there and go about my day, because that wraps up my philosophy on just about every aspect of life. But unfortunately, many people truly believe that life simply is what it is.

And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

This phrase has puzzled me for years. Whenever I hear people say it, they usually have an exasperated tone and shrug in resignation.

I didn’t get the promotion. It is what it is.

We lost that big account. It is what it is.

We aren’t going to get to go on vacation, this year. It is what it is.

My twenty-year marriage is over. It is what it is.

In each of these cases, the speaker is communicating that something that was important to them – something they wanted – didn’t work out and they feel either disappointed or aloof about the situation.

Otherwise, they would choose a different set of words to express their meaning.

I didn’t get the promotion. Now, I need to determine my next step.

We lost that big account. What can we learn from this experience and how can we prevent these types of losses moving forward?

We aren’t going to get to go on vacation, this year. How could we plan better in the future?

My twenty-year marriage is over. I’m thankful for the lessons learned and commit to doing and being better in the future.

Notice the difference in the second set of statements. Resignation is replaced with resolve, determination, or perhaps even excitement about future possibilities.

Rather than just accepting a dreaded fate, these people may even have a fire lit within them to go out and make things happen. They refuse to be defeated; they refuse to give up.

Setbacks don’t knock them down.

I was having a conversation with some friends, recently, about taking steps to regain control of our lives and how important it is to be intentional about what we do, what we consume – physically, emotionally, and mentally – and what we think about.

My friend Trish was talking about the fact that so many people use things like alcohol to cope, when as she was speaking, another one of our friends shrugged, laughed loudly, and piped up, “It is what it is.”

Wait, what?

My head probably did a full 360-degree spin, as I looked squarely in the face of “No Name” and said, “It is NOT what it is. It IS what you make it.”


No Name was obviously taken off guard. Trish and I could both see the wheels spinning and this new, seemingly foreign information being processed within his brain.

More silence.

And finally, a slight smile and a nod of agreement, “I’ve never thought of it that way.”

It is What YOU Make It.

You absolutely have a choice. Rather than resigning yourself to the status quo and allowing life to happen to you, you get to decide to take personal responsibility for your life. If you’re looking at your life, right now, and there is an area that you’re not exuberantly happy with, you’re the only one who can change that.

In any given moment and in any given situation, you have a choice. And believe it or not, choosing to make no decision is actually a choice in and of itself. So, ditch the old adage of It is what it is, and decide, instead, that it will be what I make it.

After all, you have to choose either way. Why not choose resolve?

bottom of page