One of the many oddities about the human race is our reluctance to deal with options. We don’t like having too many choices. It makes us anxious. Every alternative means an opportunity for messing things up. Many of us are more concerned about not being wrong than we are about being right.That’s why we let our habits narrow down the 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.
Beating the workplace blues isn’t a once-and-for-all action. It’s a way of living that will make everything you do more vibrant, more alive and more fun.
Think about what you’re doing about your future. What alternatives have you been ignoring? Which ones have you skipped over? You don’t have to follow them, but thinking about them sure beats rushing ahead blindly.
You have more options than you think. Whenever something happens, you have a choice about how to respond. No one can take that away.
Here are some areas where simple choices can transform your day:
- 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 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 judgments. We’re all too eager to rush into deciding who’s right and who’s wrong. Do you like people making 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.
- Look at your unused options. It can be tough to think about what you haven’t done in the past that might help you transform your life in the future, but you may find some unused gems.
Many people find it really helpful to take an objective look at themselves and their past and present choices. You can do this too. Only you can change your life for the better. Only you can make it worse. It’s up to you.
Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.