There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist or to accept responsibility for changing them – Denis Waitley
“Life’s so hard”. That was the text I received at 5:18am this morning from my son. He isn’t wrong I tell him. Life can absolutely be a challenge, especially with everything he has encountered in his short 18 years. We all have our difficulties. Sometimes we are at the top of our game and feel like we can conquer the world, and other times we feel like we’re drowning, and it takes everything in us to keep afloat.
Yes, life can be hard I say, then I remind him that although there are some circumstances we cannot change, we always have the power over how we deal with these conditions and the choices we make. We can choose to learn from life’s difficult lessons and we can choose how to react to our environment. These choices belong to us – no-one else. There are very few things we have explicit control over in life. The power of choice is one of those things.
How many times have you heard someone blame a situation on someone else or circumstance? How many times have you done this yourself? We all encounter circumstances (or people) that throw a wrench into best-laid plans, but ultimately, they are not responsible for our outcomes. Only we hold that card. Two main things happen when we deflect blame. One, we do not realize that we are part of the problem, and two, we tend not to be solution focused. After all, it’s not our problem!
When we stop looking to others to blame and start looking within, we begin taking greater control and ownership over the outcome of our lives thereby creating positive change within ourselves and for others. When you become more aware and accept the fact that you are the only one responsible for your actions and outcomes and, further, that you and you alone have the power to choose, things will start to change in you and as a natural by-product, things will change for you.
Quick Tips for making choices:
1. Studies show that mindfulness can help you make smarter choices. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. Often when people hear the word mindfulness, they relate it to yoga and/or meditation. Although mindfulness is at the core of these things, you do not have to meditate or practice yoga to be mindful or present. The art of being present is simply bringing all of your awareness and attention to the moment you are in. Notice your surroundings, experience your feelings, and focus on the task at hand. When we are mindful, we are more in tune with our thoughts, emotions, and body sensations and tend to make better decisions.
2. Identify a decision making process that works for you. The decision-making process is unique to everyone, so it is something only you can create. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what might work for you:
- Define the problem, challenge, or opportunity
- Think of the possible implications in each scenario
- Discuss and brainstorm with your friends, family, mentors, and/or advisers
- Identify and negate self-limiting thoughts that may impact your decision
- Evaluate the pros and cons associated with each option
- Make the choice which aligns most with your passion, values, and goals without regard to fears, inhibitions, or naysayers
- Don’t waiver – implement the chosen option
- Be persistent
- Reflect on the decision and modify course of action as needed
3. It is a scientific fact that decisions are largely emotional, not logical which is why it is important to understand the impact of your emotions in relation to the choices you have made, so when faced with a similar choice you can remove or mitigate the emotion from the decision making process. When faced with a choice:
- Acknowledge the emotion and determine what it is that you’re feeling (angry, sad, guilty, etc)
- Identify what triggered the emotion (the situation, a person, society, etc)
- Rationalize your reaction to the emotion (are you overreacting, under-reacting – how would a similar person react in like circumstances)
- Give yourself some time to constructively express the emotion (take time to think, journal, reflect, meditate – whatever strategy works for you)
- Once you have successfully acknowledged and processed the emotion(s) you can make a choice with a clear uninhibited logical mind
Once we choose to accept this tremendous power – the power of choice – we can expand our minds, fine tune our beliefs, and exhibit the behaviors we need to live an extraordinary life! Will you still have bad days here and there – maybe, but armed with this power, you can choose to learn and grow from them rather than dwell and regress – and of course, you can choose to make tomorrow a better day!
If this resonates with you, be sure to pick up a copy of my book YOUR EXTRAORDINARY SELF for more tips on how to live an extraordinary life. Always remember #AnythingsPossible