I’m intrigued by the idea of choices. Lately, I’ve been structuring my thoughts around choices more so through the idea of ‘paths’. I like this metaphor because when you make a choice, you are starting down a path that is somewhat unlike that one you’d be on…had you made a different choice.
Let’s say you and your spouse are deciding on dinner tonight. This is a very common, and seemingly trivial choice that many of us make often. Your partner votes for pizza…but for some reason, you’re really insisting on tacos. You just feel the urge. You want the tacos. No big deal or argument from your spouse. You get your choice. You chose this ‘path’ for dinner. I think of this moment as a significant crossroads of sorts, and one that will obviously now dictate your future.
You are now going to drive to the supermarket, pick up all of the accoutrements pertaining to tacos. There is that life that is now going to happen. It’s going to change the projection of the rest of your life. The geographic movement…the timing of it all…the people that you’ll see…the amount of money that you’ll spend…are just some of the things that will be different than your other choice. It doesn’t seem so trivial of a choice anymore. Considering what happens because of this new path, that tiny dinner decision could become monumental. Sorry to be mean and morbid, but you could die in a car accident on the way there! Pizza delivery sounds much better than that. Ok, let’s not go that far…even though that is an unfortunate reality. You could see your long lost friend from high school. It could lead to a renewed kinship that lasts forever. You might discover the best black beans with jalapenos…a food that you eat weekly for the rest of your life. A discovery that brings you a little lifelong happiness and fulfillment. And because of all of this, you’re on a new path. According to the writing I did yesterday…your ‘perspective’ is certainly different now.
The other side of this coin is…what didn’t you do? Well, you didn’t get pizza delivery. What did you miss out on there? What path are you not on now because of your choice? If you’re in business, this is the ‘opportunity cost’ idea. It’s what you can’t do, or what you aren’t doing, because of what you chose to do. This could be regretful information or negative thinking. It could also be confirming and positive information. Maybe you’re so happy that you didn’t order pizza. You’re solid and proud of the choice you made. No second guessing. No regrets. That’s a great feeling.
Remember though, the pizza worker you spoke to on the phone could have been that long lost friend. The delivery driver could have been too! Remember, there is no option of you getting in a car accident with the pizza delivery option. So…shouldn’t you second guess all of this???
No way. Move forward into the world with confidence and conviction. Go ‘all in’ to more of your choices. Be quicker in your choice-making process…and then commit to the choice you made. Even try both choices when that is an option…when it’s not counter-intuitive. Do more. It will give you more data to learn from. Living like this will encourage you to create the life you want to live. By being grateful for what you have (and the choices that you made), you create more of a positive purpose and meaningful existence.
Sure, there are choices that you made that didn’t turn out so well. Those are to be appreciated too. They exposed you to what you now know as ‘what not to do’. They helped you discover what it is that you are passionate about now. You can now define yourself more effectively. ‘I am this. I am not that anymore,’ or maybe, ‘I never was that.’ Those are good things to know. I don’t think that it’s often enough that we (or at least I), check in with ourselves to find out who it is we really are. What do I believe in? What don’t I believe in? What principals to I want to follow? And how do I act in accordance with those principals. I’m going to try to do that more often.
What’s interesting about the option or choice that you don’t choose is that…well, you’ll never know all of the information about that choice. You can weigh pros and cons about your two options up front, but you can’t look back and know everything about what that other experience might have been. You chose tacos. You can’t know how pizza would have gone. That’s another reason to not dwell and give energy to ‘what you might have done’. Again, move forward with conviction. Choose, and go.
I suppose another option for our choices is to NOT choose. For the most part, I disagree with this option and don’t recommend it. I believe too many of us sit with worry and wonder, but also with desire and passion. We have a couple of options, but we are too worried to choose either, because of how we’ll be judged by others…maybe because of a worst-case-scenario you’ve constructed in your mind. Of course there are some occasions where it’s beneficial to NOT choose…or you could say, choose not to choose. It’s still a decision, and maybe the correct one. But I believe that more often, we benefit from choosing with that conviction.
If you’re lacking conviction within your decisions, this quote might help. It’s by Paulo Coelho, in his novel (one of my favorite books), The Alchemist. In the story, he writes, ‘And when you want something, the universe conspires to help you achieve it.’ It describes how when you’re passionate about something, or when you decide…when you make a choice, whatever that may be…the world will then help you to see that through. Think about this, and try to notice where it’s happening for you. It’s a very powerful and optimistic theory. I love it. And it helps me recognize the possibility and potential of my existence. It helps me recognize yours.