Take back your power to choose

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.
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a digital nation

Watch this PBS documentary: a digital nation. It changed the way I viewed technology. They discuss how the internet has hurt (and helped) relationships, how multitasking is destroying our culture, how we create second lives through the internet, and how pretty soon we’ll be sending our kids to internet addiction camps like they already do in Korea. You really should watch it, I found it fascinating.

As a result, in the last few weeks I’ve began multiple conversations about the value of media in our life: twitter, facebook, google buzz… what is the point of it all? Does it add more value or only distract?

The short conclusion is that I think it adds a lot a value IF properly used. Proper Netiquette (defined: short for network etiquette, the code of conduct regarding acceptable online behavior) must be displayed as well as moderation in all things, including email use. Which is why I felt the need to go on a google chat hiatus for the last two weeks– I was feeling addicted ‘being online’, I felt the compulsion to have some sort of web presence, as weird as that may sound. Some of you may have felt the same way with a different web program.

Feel addicted to youtube videos? Do you constantly think of your actions in terms of something to blog about or update your facebook status with? Can you handle being signed out of your email for a few hours? a few minutes?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then I venture to say that it is time to step back. Let’s look at how the web is helping and hurting us, then refine how we use it.

One final thought from Thomas Jefferson: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” I think in some small way, the internet is a powerful form of tyranny over the mind of man. Although I haven’t developed this thought thoroughly. Elder Bednar also had a lot to say on this subject.

I’d appreciate your thoughts.