“The first act of freedom is to choose it.” ~ William James
Life is about making choices.
This has become sooooo apparent to me this past year as I attempt to intentionally design my life for the next few years. I felt an overwhelming sense of decision fatigue – the kind I feel walking into a supermarket and trying to buy toothpaste seeing shelves upon shelves of various forms of spearmint vs peppermint (?!!) and would I rather have whitening power or flouride… but on a larger scale.
(BTW this is why I LOVE traveling to developing countries where I walk up to a wooden kiosk and ask for toothpaste and they slap on the counter the one kind they have, and I happily walk away having found my toothpaste).
While not many of life’s choices are as lightweight as choosing between flavors of toothpaste, we make them every day – ALL day – without being conscious of many of them. This tendency to go into autopilot and not realize we are making choices in each moment can bite us in the butt.
What you choose and how you make choices (or don’t make them) is central to your inner confidence and sense of authenticity.
Choices do, however, come in two flavahs:
1) ACTIVE: When you make something happen and live with the consequences, and
2) PASSIVE: When you “choose not to choose,” and continue to live with the status quo because the stakes appear too high for any changes choice might bring. This one can be a comfy place, but it gets booooooooooring.
Active choices can be painful. Feelings of fear and vulnerability often come along with the territory. When you acknowledge you have choice in the matter, you are more exposed (cross dem legs!). Alas, just because we know what’s best for us doesn’t make it any easier.
This active choice-making is risky, too. The most difficult choices don’t have any absolute right or wrong; there is no perfect solution. It takes great inner confidence (and courage) to face these hard decisions.
On the other hand, putting off decisions, or not taking the time to clarify what it is you want or believe in (which in general leads to crappy choices), can have serious backlashes in the way of stress, depression, discouragement, a total lack of feeling authentic, and even physical illness.
Procrastination and ignorance seldom have any favorable results. But that’s kind of obvious.
The take-home point is this: Once you accept that your choices create your experience and your reality, even if you don’t like what you created so far, YOU ALSO GET TO CREATE YOUR NEW REALITY – THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO BE! And now you can do so more mindfully, deliberately and, skillfully…which freakin’ rocks!
Though in the end the choice is yours, getting to the place to be able to make a decision doesn’t have to be a solo trip. Ask for help. Talking things out with another person can be helpful, especially someone who is on your side but has nothing at stake in your decision (like a coach, a spiritual teacher, or a counselor). Just putting voice to your concerns may help you sort things out, and writing down the pros and cons will give you more clarity than keeping everything in your head.
You can also learn skills that help you make choices that are more clear, deliberate, and in alignment with your passion and values (check out this recording of the oldie-but-goodie Jedi Juice™ training call, “The Power of Choice – and the freedom of owning your shit,” here).
Getting some distance (emotional or physical) may make sussing out your options (and what you WANT) easier, especially if that distance allows you to see the reality of the situation, rather than the way you wish it could be.
Even with thoughtful consideration, not every choice will be the right one. But remember this:
“Wrong” decisions don’t make YOU wrong.
Trite as it may sound, one of the ways we learn is through the mistakes we make. And on the flip side, one way we build confidence is to take risks, commit to a choice/decision, and succeed, even if its after a few (or many) failures. We won’t ever have that chance if we don’t ever deliberately make a choice!
Not each of the choices you make will have profound effect on the whole of your life. But the ongoing and continuous act of making choices – in full awareness – will.
Making choices you believe in, choosing intentionally and with keeping your deepest values in mind, and taking responsibility for your choices – these are some of the markers on the road of living an aligned life.
What choices do you know you’ll have to make today? How can you enter into them with more awareness of what values you are saying “yes” to and what values you are saying “no” to?
Set the intention to be more aware of the opportunities for choice in your day today, and make them in alignment with what the real, authentic you desires.
Ana Verzone is known as the Soul Midwife™ She helps individuals awaken their lives and personal freedom with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly eZine goes out to thousands of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE 7-day Clarity + Courage Course by visiting http://www.claritycouragecourse.com