It all started with this NYT Op-Doc. Then I taught this lesson at church. Then I was faced with some big decisions in my life and ultimately decided to quit my job and take a four-week sabbatical. What I do next is up in the air so you can imagine that I’ve been thinking a lot about choices this year. And I’ve come to the conclusion that making our own choices is the best and hardest thing we do. I don’t think we take them seriously.
Here’s what I’ve learned about choices in the last few months:
- Self-doubt and hesitation are real and debilitating. The only thing that effectively eliminates them is action.
- We don’t get to choose the actions of others, but we can choose how we respond to them.
- Email, texting, social media, tv shows or other addictions distract from our ability to choose.
- Making passive choices can be as destructive as making wrong choices.
- The reality of individual choice is that only you choose how to spend your energy and your time.
- Assuming responsibility for choices is hard but liberating.
This is a call to arms. It’s time we take back our right to choose. Here are a couple of suggestions that have helped me:
- What is impacting your ability to choose how you spend your energy and your time? Identify where you are passively making choices and take back your right to choose.
- Watch your language: Use the words “I choose to” rather than “I have to” or “I felt” rather than “You made me feel”.
- Assume responsibility by asking the question, “What’s my role in this matter?”
What can you do to take back your power to choose? At a conference I recently attended, Clayton Christensen spoke about the choices he’s made that have had the most impact. He noted that the choices he made on his own free will and desire meant so much more to him and have had greater impact than when someone else had told him to do something. I believe that. Actively making choices breeds happiness and success. So don’t give up your ability to choose.