Seven Words to Change Your Life: Do You Have A Choice?
Imagine you live in an oppressed nation. Your oppressor overtaxes you, reaps the benefits of your hard work, and periodically brings you and your fellow citizens in line with outbreaks of violence. Must you fight for your freedom?
Are you thinking, “I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
We say that pretty regularly – “I don’t have a choice” – but it’s rarely true. Work late or get fired? Take the medicine or die? Follow the traffic laws or lose your license? These are all choices. What we mean to say, of course, is that one of those choices is so undesirable that you feel compelled to go with the other choice.
Not only do you genuinely have a choice – you can pick the less desirable option – but you frequently have alternatives that weren’t even presented to you. You can pick a choice that wasn’t even presented to you. Bring in a crew so you don’t have to work late. Find an effective alternative to the medicine. Hire a driver so you don’t even have to think about the traffic laws.
In the situation above, a very influential man took another road. He was presented with two choices – A: Endure the oppression and B: Fight for freedom. He chose Choice C: Resist tyranny through mass civil disobedience. His name was Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi, better known as Mahatma Ghandi, and not only did he lead India into freedom from Great Britain, but he inspired other non-violent movements for freedom and human rights across the world.
You have a choice. With rare exceptions, you always have a choice. “Choice” is one of the seven words that can change your life, but having a choice is meaningless if you don’t acknowledge it – if you feel constrained to always behave a certain way or make certain choices.
It’s time to live as if you have choices.
- Make sure you have mentors and friends who will give you honest feedback, challenging reactive points of view and self-deception. These are more precious than the most reliable stock tip (and, of course, they’re legal). Cherish them, and seek their in-put often.
- Question yourself. If you find yourself in a situation that you wouldn’t have chosen, figure out how you did choose it. Did you act on a false assumption? Choose impulsively?
- If you find yourself repeatedly in an undesirable situation, don’t vow that you’ll never go there again. Instead, figure out what pay-off keeps drawing you back there. Then you can satisfy that need or impulse so you don’t go there again. For example, let’s say parking is very limited in the area where you work. You’ve accumulated fourteen parking tickets, and just barely dodged having a boot put on your car. First figure out why you’ve gotten the tickets: ex, you don’t have a choice because you don’t have time to look around for a legal parking place. The pay-off for parking illegally is, you make it to work on time. However, that pay-off costs you about $25 a day, plus fines and impound fees if they boot the car. Now, address the pay-off. You’re allotted the same twenty-four hours as everyone else, so what are your other options? Leave home earlier? Take the bus? You do have options, but until you acknowledge that you have a choice, you won’t make a different one.
- Stop and think. At intervals throughout your day, stop and ask yourself whether you’re acting out of habit, or you’re actually making the best choice for the situation you’re in.
You can choose to grow, or choose not to grow. There are always going to be setbacks, obstacles and external factors that will complicate your progress, but you don’t have allow them to define who you are or where you’re going. You have the choice. You can change your life.
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