The Power of Choice
I can divide my life up into two halves. Before I understood the power of choice, and afterwards. Afterwards is better. (Thanks, Stephen Pressfield!)
When I finally realized that I could decide where my life was headed, a whole new world of opportunity opened up to me. A single choice can mean the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary. A single choice can begin a whole new phase of your life.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by…” — Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
This powerful line from Frost's famous poem says it all for me. There has to be a decision: one road, or the other. We can't take both. We can't, having taken one road, double back and take the other.
The word decision comes from a Latin word meaning literally "to cut off." When you make a choice, you cut off the other options through making a decision. So there is no other road to take. There is only one. But here's the really freeing part: it's the one you choose.
If you are at a place in your life right now where you don't know exactly what needs to change but you know something isn't right, then you have a choice: ignore it, or look for a way forward. If you choose to look for a solution, then ignoring it is dead to you. There is only one way to go.
If you're unhappy with the path your career is taking, or you're beginning to doubt that a career is really going to satisfy you, then you have a choice: ride it out, or seek a new direction. If you seek a new direction, then riding it out is no longer an option.
It's so important to understand when a decision needs to take place. Because if we can't make a decision, we ourselves are the thing that gets divided. Just as the road diverges, we will find ourselves in a split state of double-mindedness that will paralyze our progress and keep us in a state of doubt.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard, and I'm sure you have too, someone tell me "Once I made the decision, I felt so much better." You've probably experienced it yourself. The key is to recognize these decision points in our journey for what they are.
There will be may times ahead when you are faced with a choice and need to make a decision. Some of these choices will be clear - black or white, sink or swim. Even if it's an easy choice, it's still an important decision. And in doing so you cut off the other.
Others will be a lot harder. Often there is no right choice. There is no clear road. There is no signpost. And I've found myself at this point many a time, and it's only now that I can see why I floundered around so much.
I used to think there was a right choice. There had to be only one way that was the correct way, the others would be wrong.
And this kind of belief held me back for many years. It was as if God were saying to me "Here are 3 doors. Behind two of them are hungry alligators, behind the third is a pot of gold. Which door do you want to open, A, B or C?"
Ever feel like that? It could keep you stuck your whole life. There is nothing empowering about that kind of choice. It's all to do with luck, and everything is fine until the next set of doors...
Instead, with choice comes responsibility.
"Here are three doors," says a voice. "They all lead in the same direction. The choice you have to make is whether or not you are committed to walk the road."
Understand the Power of Choice and discover the real freedom it brings for living a bigger life.
Thoughts on the Power of Choice
I'd been working in the technical support team for a large UK organization for about 5 years when it was taken over by a big American corporation. Immediately our futures were called into question as the new management began to reorganize, streamline and increase profitability.
It wasn't too long before Voluntary Redundancy was being talked about in the canteen. Anyone who didn't want to 'stay with the ship' could get off now, with a tax-free lump sum. One time offer, take it or leave it. Nice idea.
Still, with a young family and plenty of self-doubt I opted for the less risky option of staying put. It was, I told myself, the best choice.
A year passed. My team reshuffled, and I found myself less than happy about my new position. I began to question my decision, which only made me more unhappy.
By this time my wife and I had decided that sometime in the next couple of years we'd be leaving England and moving to Spain. We just had to wait for the right circumstances. And they began to materialize.
"...the world conspires to make a dream come true” - Pablo Coelho
Out of the blue the company once more offered limited numbers of voluntary redundancy. I was a year wiser. A year more confident in myself. A year forward in our plans. The choice was easy: take the money and run.
Is there such a thing as a wrong choice?
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