I was talking to a client this morning and I heard myself tell her that she can look at everything in her life as a choice point. After I hung up, I thought to myself that, obviously, this is true for me, too. (True for all of us.)
We all have our own list of what’s not a choice. But, for me, with the exception of my two children, every single thing I do (or don’t do) is a choice. I exclude my kids because they are still too young to take care of themselves and while it’s true that I have the choice to leave their care to someone else or to choose to not care, I feel like since I chose to bring them into this world, and they’re not old enough to self-sustain yet, it’s my responsibility to get them to a self-sustaining state. And, I admit that this is my personal thing and I can see others defining even this as a choice point.
But everything else is unquestionably a choice in my life. Even being a wife. I am choosing to spend my day with this person. I am choosing to stay married. I am choosing to share my life with him. I have other choices.
I am choosing the job I do. It might not seem like a choice but it is. There are many ways to make money and I am choosing this one. It might not seem like I have other options but I do. I could work at a Starbucks, a McDonalds, etc. There are many places that would hire me where I could still make money. Enough to make sure I get to eat. But I choose this job. I choose it for its ups and downs. But I do have other choices (as non-obvious as they might seem.)
I am choosing to spend my time the way I do. I am choosing to do the coaching. I am choosing to wake up at 4:30am once a week to attend the certification calls. I am choosing to fill my free moments with clients. I am choosing to do art. I am choosing to sketch. I am choosing to read. To eat well and to eat badly. To exercise. To not exercise enough. To sleep. To not call a friend I’ve been meaning to call. To not return an email I keep thinking about returning.
All of these things I do or don’t do, things I say or don’t say are choices in my life. I might not be making them consciously, but I am making them. And here’s the crucial part of why this matters:
I hold the power to make other choices.
When we don’t think of events/things/people in our lives as choices, we become the victim in our life. Things are happening “to” us and we’re not doing them. But this is rarely true. (I will relent that there are some rare exceptions, but they are much more rare than one might think.) And when we’re victims, we lose all the power over our own lives. This kind of life is no better than an enslaved one where you don’t actually have choice.
There’s a famous quote about how a man who chooses not to read is no better than a man who cannot read. I think choice is like that. If you choose to be a victim, you’re no better off than a person who actually is a victim.
The one thing we all want is to have power over our own lives. Even little babies want this control apparently. (there are specific scientific studies on this.) So realizing that every minute of our life is a choice point is very very empowering. The first step is always getting conscious of it. Being aware.
Because it is only when you’re aware that you can start making changes.
If you so choose.