Choice is one of our greatest gifts, as it goes hand in hand with freedom, and we will do almost anything to protect it. The right to choose what we believe, what we say, and how we live is integral to our very being. Therefore, learning to make good choices is key to learning how to live a good life.
Being the “intelligent” species that we are, our learned experiences should continually enhance our ability to make good choices as time passes, so why isn’t it a given?
Does a three year old think about good or bad choices? Every choice is the right one when life is just one big adventure of discovery and excitement. It’s only as we begin to discern, judge, and regret that the importance of making good choices that align with our goals becomes apparent.
There are times when we might make a choice that seems perfectly logical, but a curve ball gets in the way. That’s life, things happen, but what about those times when we choose the same thing time and again expecting the result to be different? Surely it would be crazy to knowingly make bad choices—wouldn’t it?
Here are five ways that will help you to make good choices that align with your life’s goals.
1. Remain Faithful to Your Core Values
Your core values form the glue that binds your choices and your life’s goals together.
To achieve fulfilment it is essential to remain faithful to your values. This will ensure that you make good choices that align with your life’s goals. If you compromise in this area, you will reap what you sow—maybe not immediately, perhaps not even in the short term—but eventually the conflict of values will catch up with you and bite you where it hurts.
You may think that you can compromise and still stay true to yourself, but there will always be a little piece of you that is out of sync. That irritant will have a tendency to grow like a pearl in an oyster shell, but the final outcome won’t be so pretty.
You may justify what you are doing or allowing to happen—be that at work or in your home life—but you will not be fulfilled. However much you convince yourself that the end justifies the means, nagging doubts will affect your peace of mind. This is a reaction to sacrificing your values for the sake of expediency.
For example, you may be on a career path that is progressing nicely, but your line manager has significantly different values in a critical area of the business. Do you go along with them indefinitely in spite of the conflict? Do you make a stand and risk your career? Or do you consciously decide to play ball in the short term as part of your overall life’s goals?
The latter may work as a temporary fix, but only if you are aware of the compromise you are making for the sake of the big picture. If not, it will lead to a hidden grievance since your mind is very adept at burying inconvenient truths for the sake of goals to which you have committed, making it difficult to make good choices.
2. Make Conscious Choices
Spontaneity has its place, but there is a fine line between impulsion and compulsion. Being in the moment is one thing, but it’s only too easy to mistake an intuitive response for a habitual reaction based on years of mental reflexes or even addictions.
Have you ever woken up thinking “Why on earth did I do that?” So let’s go there: Why? Felt like a good idea at the time? Couldn’t help myself? I deserved a reward for all my sacrifices, my hard work, doing stuff I don’t like doing?
There’s “knowing” what’s best for ourselves, and then there’s “doing” it—or not doing it.
Consciousness is a gift permanently available to you should you choose to use it. You might perceive it as restrictive or boring, but in reality it is liberating, as well as working in your own best interests. Consciousness allows another perspective in your thinking as an alternative to the hard-wired version that has developed over the years.
Self-reflection will open the door to questions such as:
- What is the emotional driver for this potential choice?
- Is it the “right thing” to do? For whose benefit?
- Am I giving or taking? Am I giving to take?
- Will it bring me joy? If so, for how long?
- What are the longer term implications?
- Does it align with my life’s goals and my core values?
- Is it a means to an end or an end in itself?
Intuition and inspiration are the life-blood of human creativity. Consciousness, unlike limiting and negative beliefs, lets your ideas flow whilst encouraging awareness. That awareness will help you make good choices and better manage the outcomes.
3. Listen to Your Gut
Since the Age of Enlightenment, mankind has worshipped at the altar of intellectual philosophy. However, we are still animals and, as such, inextricably connected with our organs, which are linked to our emotions and, therefore, to our choices.
Some people resonate more closely with their gut, others with their heart. Make the most of these as opposed to just relying on the mind.
Have you ever, with hindsight, looked back on an event or a decision and thought, “I knew that was the wrong choice,” but you did it anyway, “against my better judgement”? If you want to make good choices, you need to improve your judgement, but rather than just logically weighing pros and cons; facts and figures; precedents and mathematical odds; listen to your body.
Logic is really effective for reasoning. The trouble is, human beings aren’t logical. You have no control over how another human being will react, but you do have within your DNA the capacity to draw on your primeval senses. So even if all of the facts point clearly to one choice, remember to pay heed to your sixth sense, as well.
The key to decision making is balance. Experience will help you learn how best to make use of the feelings in your body. Don’t waste this natural resource.
4. See Choice as an Experiment
Procrastination can be a debilitating experience to the extent that some people describe it as paralyzing. “Too many choices” is a typical complaint or an excuse for delaying a decision, whereas in reality, to have the freedom to make choices is something we ought to be grateful for.
Choices fall into several categories, from relatively trivial to life-changing. However, even what may look like a really important choice with significant repercussions is often reversible. If you are inspired to make a change in your life, then rather than perceiving the process as stressful or the cause of anxiety, see it as an experiment.
“Everything of which you have been afraid was based on nothing.” —A Course in Miracles
Try it out; what’s the worst thing that could happen? If it doesn’t work out, you will at least now know that it’s not for you. As Thomas Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”
5. Love Yourself
Committing to make better choices is a fundamental step towards a happier, more joyful, and fulfilled life. Accepting the fact that you create your own reality, taking responsibility for where you are, and owning your role in how you got here is a part of growing up.
The next step is easy—provided that you have the clarity of thought and the open-mindedness to embrace it. You get to choose. No one else, just you. And guess what? You are the one who knows best what you need.
Never mind what your family, your peers, your partner, therapist, or coach think; you are the expert when it comes to running your life. There’s just one extra ingredient required: to love yourself enough to do the right thing for you.
Connecting with your truth, staying conscious, trusting your instincts, relishing the wealth of possibilities before you, and valuing yourself makes decision making fun rather than a chore. Follow these tips and watch your confidence grow as you reap the results of making good choices based on sound principles.
More on How to Make Good Choices
- How To Live a Good Life By Making These 8 Choices
- How To Make Good Decisions All The Time
- 5 Powerful Decision Making Skills to Help You Make Decisions Fast
Featured photo credit: Jose Escobar via unsplash.com
|||^||Harvard Business Review: Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It)|
|||^||Psychology Today: Are Humans Rational?|
|||^||Association for Psychological Science: Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination|
|||^||Huff Post: The Truth Behind ‘You Create Your Own Reality’|