Life is what happens while you are making decisions. Every day, adults will make an average of 3500 conscious decisions. Our lives are like a Twist-A-Plot book. With each decision you make, you are charting a path; the direction that path takes depends upon the choices you make.
Some choices are obvious, like what time you wake up, what you choose to wear, and what you choose to eat. Other choices are more subtle; so subtle, in fact, that sometimes they do not feel like choices at all. For example, the way you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic is a choice. That person driving the offending vehicle does not know you. Their driving is not personal. They did not leave their house with the intention of swerving in front of your car and ruining your morning. If you feel anger as a response to that bad driver, then that is a choice. “But that guy was a reckless jerk!” you may say. This may be true, but you have the power to choose your response just as you chose the clothes you are wearing. Instead, you could choose to say a prayer for that driver that he gets to work safely. You could choose to feel gratitude that you were not involved in a collision. You could even choose not to react at all.
No one can make you do or feel anything. The way we interpret words and events is a choice. The way we react to stress, hunger, and emotions is a choice. We may be conditioned to respond in certain ways to both positive and negative stimuli, but we do have the choice and the power to overcome these learned responses.
If you genuinely want to make change in your life, then you must acknowledge your power and understand that you control every decision in your life. When you walk into the break room and grab a donut without thinking, that was your decision. The donut did not jump into your hand. The coworker who brought in those donuts did not force you to take one. You, and you alone, chose to pick up the donut and eat it. And not only did you choose to take one bite, but you chose the second bite and the third bite, until the donut was gone. You could choose instead to walk into the break room, look at the donuts, smell the donuts, and even fondly reminisce about how much you really LOVE donuts. BUT, then you consciously choose to remind yourself that you made a promise to be healthier, and you keep that promise by walking away from the donut. It is hard. You may think about that donut all morning. The more you make these positive choices, though, the easier it will become. That is not to say you can never have another donut again. Just be sure that when you do, it is by choice, not by habit.
How many times have you gotten to the end of the day and not exercised like you promised yourself you would? The day got away from you. You are too tired once you get home. Your workout partner cancelled. These things may sound like good excuses to skip the exercise, and you may think they are out of your control; but remember – you are writing your own story. Regardless of the excuse, not exercising is a choice. Prioritizing your other daily tasks over exercise was your choice. Choosing to be tired on the couch instead of tired on the treadmill was your choice. Not exercising alone is a choice.
The next time you look in the mirror, look at yourself as a powerful person who has created your life story. Good or bad, you have made decisions that have brought you to where you are today. For some of you, you may become angry with yourself for past decisions. Just like that driver that cut us off in traffic, you can choose to be angry, or you can choose to allow yourself grace. With 3500 decisions to make each day, there is no way you could possibly make all of them well! Use self-reflection to examine the bad decisions and learn from them. Acknowledge the good decisions and allow yourself to feel proud. Owning your decisions is empowering. It allows you to be honest with yourself without blame or shame and decide how to do better. Remember, you have 3500 opportunities tomorrow to make better choices. You do not have to be perfect today.