Have you ever thought about how amazingly powerful the simple act of choosing can be? Remember how, as a child, your parents, teachers, and elders made decisions for you? Do you remember the burning desire to choose for yourself? Do you remember the feeling that came with the responsibility the first time you made a significant decision all by yourself? Maybe it was picking what you wanted to eat off of a menu. Maybe it was choosing which kitty you wanted from the litter. Maybe it was deciding what you wanted to wear for picture day at school.
From the time you began making your own decisions, you felt the “power” that owning a decision can have. You felt proud of your newfound independence. You wanted to make more decisions independently of others and experience more of that power in your life.
Then, you grew up and the power of choice changed. Although it sometimes felt exhilarating, there were times it felt frightening or overwhelming. Times when you vacillated between making one choice over another. You learned that, as an adult, the power of choice had consequences that can sometimes be down-right scary.
Do you find it easy to make up your mind about something — especially something important — or do you find it burdensome? If you feel overwhelmed with decision-making, you may describe it as feeling “stuck” or “uncertain” about which way to go. This feeling of stuckness comes from two primary pressures we allow into our lives: perfectionism and trying to live up to someone else’s expectations.
While I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys making mistakes, I have met some whose life philosophy is much more flexible and forgiving. These people are the ones who refuse to beat themselves up over major life decisions around career, which house to buy, or whether to remain in a current relationship. These people are willing to follow their gut instinct in the direction that is strongest and accept the outcomes as learning opportunities — experiences that help refine for them what direction to take their life. They believe that there isn’t a wrong decision in this respect, only different ones.
Perfectionism not necessary. How freeing is that?
On the other hand, if you want something because your parent or significant other wants it for you, then you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. When you feel stuck or feel resistance, that’s your instincts telling you that something isn’t right or authentic about the choices you are making. It’s no wonder you feel stuck or uncertain about your direction. Your emotional attachment to the goal is in pleasing someone else rather than following your internal voice, your true calling.
When considering the life decisions you make and the direction you take, it’s vital to clearly delineate what you want and why that desire is important. The why is the emotional attachment you have to the goal. If your emotional attachment is not in alignment with who you are and what you want, chances are you’re going to have difficulties achieving that particular goal because it’s not truly aligned with your personal aspirations.
Releasing yourself from the expectations of others (either real or perceived) and making decisions that reflect your sense of self, will enable you to experience a sudden sense of relief and freedom. That newfound freedom will allow you to focus — sometimes for the first time since your childhood — on what YOU want. These are powerful moments!
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”
Are you using the power of choice to live the life YOU truly desire? Are you choosing to live each and every day being the person you were meant to be? If not, why not?
Knowing what you want and why you want it are the most critical questions to ask when it comes to the power of choice, especially if the choosing feels challenging. Once you’ve considered those questions, turn inward and ask yourself what feels most right for you. Believe in your ability to know yourself better than anyone else can. Believe in your amazing power of choice.
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Sheila Callaham is an author, speaker, and success coach. The mother of seven children, her mantra to “follow your passion” is one she has worked to instill in each of her children. “As long as my kids do their very best at what they love most, then I am a happy momma!”