This post is long overdue. I’ve had a string of computer issues while traveling, which put my computer out of commission for several days while I replaced a failing hard drive. The added irony is that the failure coincided with a conference I was attending to network and gain inspiration for blog posts. I thought about how Life Is A Series of Inconveniences, and I planned to write a post on this topic once I had a working computer. Here’s the synopsis for what it would have concluded: Once we accept the fact that these inconveniences are part of Life (rather than annoyances that impede life), they quit seeming like such a big deal. And suddenly, we handle Life’s inconveniences more gracefully.
But I decided, instead, to write a post on Choices.
Because it’s a theme that keeps surfacing in conversations this week.
The Choices we make.
And how they shape our Life.
At the conference last week, I chatted with a wonderful stranger about my recent decision to take a sabbatical from my 9-5 and I discussed the lead-up to my decision and where the journey has taken me thus far. She said it reminded her of a story, which she shared, and which goes like this:
She was on vacation in Tuscany (note: I think it was Tuscany but the exact location is irrelevant—just picture somewhere beautiful and simple.) While on vacation she came across a male expat who was working outside. Looking at the scenery, she turned to him and said, “You are so lucky to be here.”
The man turned toward her, stared for a few seconds, and passionately exclaimed: “LUCKY?! Luck had nothing to do with it; I CHOSE to be here!”
Think about those words for a second. “I chose to be here.”
Three days later I arrived in Los Angeles – a city I’ve spent very little time in but where I’m currently staying. While catching up with an old friend, she described her decision to leave LA, and then her decision to return several years later. When I picked her brain on whether the city resonated with her more this time around, she simply said: “It’s all about choices.”
What she meant is that we can find our tribe and connect to most places if we make deliberate decisions—choices—to do so.
It’s all about choices.
It seems obvious, doesn’t it?
But, as humans, we don’t always choose what is best for us. We choose what is easy. Or what we want at the moment. (Or, often, what we think we want.) We choose things that will get us the promotion but not necessarily make us happy. We choose partners that are toxic because we aren’t ready to be alone. We choose complacency because we are scared of change.
Yes, sometimes we don’t choose at all. Particularly when faced with difficult decisions. Because we become so overwhelmed by the number of factors to consider and the uncertainty in the result. So we hesitate and decide, instead, to stay where we are (the known) rather than jumping into the unknown. But remember: Not choosing is a choice in itself.
These choices, which seemed so benign and trivial when we were making them, have crafted the life we have right now. Choices are impactful. And there are a lot of them to make. We are choosing all day, every day.
It can be paralyzing if we let it be.
(But we will not let it.)
We aren’t always going to make the right choices, because Life is about growth and growth comes from mistakes.
And sometimes our circumstances won’t allow us to make the choices we desire. In these instances, we must choose to change our mindset, and Own It. Own your choices.
Think of it this way: our decisions, or lack thereof, are usually driven by passion or fear. We make a decision to get closer to something we love (a person, a job). Maybe you’re struggling at a job you dislike, but you’re choosing to make a living to pay your bills and support your family. Or maybe you’re choosing to save money to work toward a dream. Whatever situation you find yourself in, the key is to be deliberate and take self-responsibility for each choice you make. (At the same time, be gentle with yourself once you’ve made a choice and remember that we are all continuously growing and working toward things we aren’t quite ready for.)
Regardless of our circumstances, we are always capable of making choices that will optimize our life and take us closer to what we are pursuing. We are our sole decision-makers and for good reason: we know our circumstances, we know what drives us. Remind yourself of this when faced with difficult decisions. You alone have the power to make choices that will create a Life that is suited for you, because you alone have the answers to Life’s formative questions.
What makes you tick? What brings balance into your life? How do you want other people to feel around you? What kind of lifestyle do you want? What are your priorities?
What kind of choices will you make today to shape your life tomorrow?