I have long thought that one of the saddest things is a person who either truly does not have choices, or perhaps worse, does not see the choices they do have. Unlike the Syrian refugees adrift on the Aegean Sea who had only one choice, which was to flee their oppressive regime by whatever means they could, most of us are blessed with a multitude of choices. And for that we should be grateful each and every day.
We are each a product of the choices we have made over the course of our lives. We have made good choices and bad choices, but there is no rolling back the calendar. We have only future choices and, as the saying goes, if you want a different result, make a different choice.
In my own life, I have made choices that mean I am not as rich as I might be, or that I don’t have certain people whom I once loved and respected in my life anymore. But I have also made choices that led to pursuits and accomplishments that I could never have imagined, and introduced me to people who provide unexpected richness to the fabric of my life.
How was I to know that I would find incredible satisfaction in executive coaching because I made a choice to leave the Olympic marketing world? That choice was based on a desire for something different but I really had no idea that it would open up the space for a whole new line of business.
While I have made decisions that led to not having certain people in my life anymore, others have chosen not to have me in their lives. Those choices usually come with a fair bit of pain, but they too open up new possibilities.
So with the start of 2016, I am thinking a lot about the choices I want to make this year. As my life and career tick along, I am acutely aware that I am blessed with the good fortune to be able to make choices. It is not always easy: I have never really been paralyzed with making decisions, but I am a work in progress when it comes to training myself not to second guess my choices!
Here are the key choices I am going to make in 2016 and what I am going to do to make them happen – let me know if any of these work for you:
1. Happiness – I choose to be happy in 2016 and I understand that means that sometimes I need to work at it. As the great British philosopher Bertrand Russell said in his book The Conquest of Happiness: “Happiness is not, except in very rare cases, something that drops into the mouth, like a ripe fruit. … Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.”
My commitments: I am going to make choices that support the goal of happiness and I am going to work at making them work. Inward: I have long talked about trying meditation as a means to banish negative thoughts – so I am signing up for a meditation course! Outward: I know I wear my mood on my face and body. The simple act of smiling goes a long way for me – I will consciously remember to do that.
2. Risk – nothing of value has come to me without an element of risk. Not for me the safe choice, the predictable choice. I don’t know if you have more to lose when you get older or less, but I will continue to choose the riskier path. As an example, will I go with the tried and true workshop that is sure to make money and influence people, or the riskier new workshop that is unproven and risks being either a dismal failure or a great success? You guessed it!
3. Change – this often goes hand in hand with risk, but sometimes it is a choice unto itself. This is one that is harder as you get older. I like my comforts, my routine, but I also know change is another key element in my wellbeing. I commit to making at least one big change this year that will rock me out of my comfort zone and maybe surprise me – for better or worse!
4. Success – I don’t care if I am at an age where it might be considered that all my successes are behind me, I choose to have more! I want to have more successful days than not; more successful relationships, than not. I know that 2016 won’t be a road paved only with successes but as Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Hence my commitment is to courage.
5. Action – this is a hallmark of my existence and I will consciously make choices that are geared to movement. Physical movement: a commitment to my personal trainer, yoga, walking and cycling. Psychological movement: see points 1-4 above!
Would love to know what choices, big and small, you will make in 2016? Please share and if you are looking for someone to hold you accountable to those choices, I am happy to do that!
My sincerest best wishes for a fabulous 2016!