You make hundreds of choices each day. The cumulative effect of those choices make up the course of your life. It’s that simple – what you choose (do) is what you get.
For those looking to make change this can be an encouraging discovery. “I just need to change what I’m doing and my life will change? Cool! I’m on it!”
The fly in the ointment? Simple does not mean easy.
The process for making choices goes something like this: larger choices are allocated time for reflection and consult; smaller ones which dominate our daily selections, are relegated to an automatic pilot, meaning minimal thought and/or deliberation.
Why is this important?
The auto-pilot serves an important purpose – it streamlines life processes in order to move swiftly and productively through the world. No problem there.
The problem comes when the settings on the auto-pilot go soft and increasingly point toward familiarity, safety and comfort.
Orange alert! Making choices from an ease-of-operation priority leads to coasting. As you might guess, you can only coast in one direction – downhill.
Habits, routines and patterns established for comforts-sake, over time, manifest life experiences described as boring, unsatisfying, unhappy, frustrating, discontent and finally, stuck.
Now the good news – when something is not working we look for solutions.
I’ve got one.
It’s time to perform a full diagnostic on your auto-pilot.
Step one is to slow down and pay attention. Be curious about your life. Make “you” your research project.
Examine your choices especially the little ones for they can serve as the canary in the coalmine.
Where are you playing it safe? Are your habits and routines evolving or are they easy and known? Where are you hiding behind strengths and avoiding being vulnerable? Write for 30 minutes each day for a week and see what you uncover.
In Step Two you apply the information you gleened in the previous step by identifying areas where you can begin to right the ship. Small daily choices that move you away from familiar and safe and toward new and different. Don’t worry about making the right choice. Simply focus on doing something different.
• Choose to resist the pull to eat lunch at your computer or with your magazine and spend time getting to know someone better – anyone!
• Choose to say yes to an invitation that seems outside your comfort zone.
• Choose to say “I don’t know” when appropriate and pat yourself on the back for your commitment to learn and grow.
• Choose to quit work at a designated time and leave yourself time (and energy) to do something new and interesting with your additional time.
• Choose to work as efficiently as possible cultivating an “economy of time” mindset. As you finish things in an appropriate time frame you free yourself to more and new.
• Choose to ask questions about topics you’re not familiar with.
• Choose to set aside your stories about “how things are”.
• Choose to keep choosing honestly and responsibly.
Like I said earlier, simple but not easy. The key is to make this a practice. It is not “one and done”. Make it an active part of your personal mission. That is how it will become change that sticks, sustainable change, and not just another ill-fated resolution.
Make your choices count by “stretching” and being bold, vulnerable, and courageous.
What’s in it for you? A new life full of possibilities you or I could not predict. What I can guarantee is that it won’t be boring.
Mar 5, 2012