Too often we are told what we need to do to become successful or get ahead in life. Those steps usually start with “get an education ... go to college.” But is that really a direction everyone took to live the high life? I don’t think so. Not everyone was meant to have a fancy framed diploma hanging on their wall.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who took a path to higher education and achieved their dreams and desires.

I believe the journey of our lives is much like a map. First you have to really know where you are. Then take a look at the vessel, vehicle, mechanism you will use on your quest. Next, you need to consider your destination. Where is it that you want to be? Where can you see yourself being happy in a year? Five years? Ten years and beyond?

Let me remind you, just like the locations on a map, nearly everywhere has several ways of getting there. It is up to you as to which route you will take. Others can point the way but it is ultimately up to you to take the first steps.

Allowing someone to go beyond giving some advise or pointing out some options is allowing them to live your life for you. Do you really want to have someone else at the helm of your destiny?

For some, there is no previously plotted life course. That is when it is time to sharpen your blade and cut your own path. Don’t be afraid to be the first to take on uncharted territory. Imagine if folks like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and many others had not decided to sharpen their blades and carve a path into the future and make history.

Granted, taking on a path no one knows exists can be quite scary. But you also have a chance to make it all your own. Only your imagination and drive can hold you back.

I encourage you to follow that internal desire to forge your own destiny. Following a footprint already set for you may be safe, but will you be happy?

I will tell you this, no amount of money can buy true happiness. You can make a load of money but, if you hate the work, it will eventually erode you to the point you burn out and quit. The famous quote, “Find a career you love and you will never work another day in your life,” is spot on. As children we were told we should be doctors, lawyers and such. Well those are great career choices ... for folks who love being doctors, lawyers and such. But sometimes mama just has to allow her babies to grow up and become cowboys, welders, plumbers, or whatever the individual heart desires.

I also believe God places a fire in each of us. This fire is often something that will change the world or the life of just one other person. There are hundreds of examples available proving how God uses one unlikely person to change the lives of nearly every other living person on Earth.

Need one? Louis Pasteur.

He not only developed the pasteurization process (hence the name) but also developed vaccines for anthrax and rabies.

You may just be the next person God chooses to change the world by sharpening your blade to cut a brand new course to a future blessing for us all. Are you ready and willing? I hope so.

James Fansler is Lake Placid police chief. He can be reached at lakeplacidchief@gmail.com .