Advertising
Advertising

You are what you choose

You are what you choose

Always making fully conscious choices is the key to a positive life

Living your life consciously isn’t a once-and-for-all action. It’s a way of being that will make everything you do more vibrant, more alive, and more fun.

maze

Destiny is made of choices. Most of what will happen to you depends on the choices you make and their consequences in the future. Careful, conscious choices produce positive outcomes; hurried, poor choices lead to regrets. Some people make poor choices about continuing in education and find themselves blocked from worthwhile jobs. Others choose to give up instead of persevering with difficulties and live to regret it.

Choices offer options to respond differently than you have in the past and try new things. Knee-jerk reactions almost always block your opportunities to learn and grow. Making conscious choices restores your freedom to choose your own way.

The interaction of your choices with events around you produces your future. Choice is the ultimate human freedom, but your automatic habits usually block it. Remember these key points and you won’t be blocked again:

Advertising

  • Every choice is a priceless opportunity to seek out new possibilities and change your life for the better. Even ordinary choices may conceal options that will transform your future. Never allow yourself to make choices without thinking them through.
  • Other people sometimes give poor advice. Don’t be the kind of person who’s easily lead. Thank people for their views and help, but always make up your own mind.
  • Don’t allow habits to rule your life. If you do, you’ll miss crucial new experiences. All you’ll do is what you’ve done before—again, and again, and again.
  • To be able to learn from your experience, you must make sure you’re fully conscious of what you’re doing and why. If you can trace the patterns of cause and effect, you’ll know how to repeat what you’ve learned when you need it again. If it goes wrong, you’ll have some ideas about where to look to find out why.

Always look for alternatives
One of the many oddities about the human race is our reluctance to deal with options. People don’t like having too many choices. It makes them anxious.

Every alternative means more complexity, harder decisions, and more opportunities for messing things up. That’s why many of folk are more concerned about not being wrong than they are about being right. They’re always looking for the one, right answer—which makes them oh so vulnerable to manipulation by con-artists; and, when they don’t find it, they let their habits narrow down their alternatives to one or two familiar ones. It’s much less stressful.

If you want to transform your life, re-establish conscious choice in place of all those automatic, habitual decisions. This will give you back your ability to find fresh options to replace worn out habits; permanently increase your opportunities to learn; and free you from repeating past mistakes.

Advertising

Think about what you’re doing about your future. What alternatives have you been ignoring? Which ones have you skipped over? Write them down. You don’t have to follow them, but thinking about them sure beats rushing ahead blindly.

Stay in charge of your life
You nearly always have more good options than you think. Whenever something happens, you have a choice about how to respond. That’s your choice. No one can take it away.

Let’s look at some areas where simple choices can transform your day:

Advertising

  • Try choosing to listen longer before giving a response. Most of us are too keen to talk and not willing to listen carefully enough before we do so. Better listening will save you from many screw-ups.
  • Try never to take action when you’re feeling emotional. Step back and wait until you’ve calmed down. Anger, frustration, jealousy, fear, or revenge make poor advisers.
  • Try seeing things from the other person’s point of view. It might look very different.
  • Try to avoid making snap judgments. We’re all too eager to rush into deciding who’s right and who’s wrong. Do you like people making such judgments about you? No? So why do it to them?
  • Don’t tell yourself what you can’t do. As soon as you do this, it’ll be true. Try telling yourself it’s okay to try it and find out.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously! Mistakes aren’t the end of the world. They’re so common, anyone can make them. Just remember the person who never made a mistake, never made anything else
  • Don’t be a wimp! Don’t be afraid to be bold, try new things, take a few risks. That’s the only way to create a life worth living.

Revisit your unused options
Many people find it really helpful to take an objective look at themselves and their past choices from time to time. It may seem silly to think about what you haven’t done as a source of things that might help you transform your life in the future, but it’s not.

You may be surprised to notice how many of those unvisited and unused options are either still available, or suggest ideas for solving your current issues. The good news is that maybe the majority of poor choices can be undone or reversed. All it takes is to stay aware of what you did, why you did it, and what the outcome was.

There’s really no point in making mistakes unless you learn from them; and no point in learning unless you do something differently as a result.

Advertising

Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life. Recent articles there on related topics include Why procrastination is sometimes the very best course of action and Chickens, eggs, and happiness. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization

    , is now available at all good bookstores.

    More by this author

    Seven Budget-Friendly Things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico 6 Easy Ways to Treat Yourself A Random List of Unique Gifts 6 Things To Consider Before You Travel 18 Things You Need To Know Before You Get Your First Tattoo

    Trending in Featured

    1The Gentle Art of Saying No 26 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick 3Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials 4Back to Basics: Your Calendar 550 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

    Advertising

    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

    Advertising

    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

    Advertising

    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Advertising

    Read Next