American Holiday

We make choices. Every day, we choose many times, from the moment we wake up, until the time we choose to fall asleep. What makes this interesting, however, are how many times we believe that we didn’t have a choice, and acted as if something was decided for us, including our reaction.

Our Choices

Yesterday, I was sick with a head cold. I chose not to blog at []. I also didn’t get my Blog Topics letter published. These were choices. I could have written enough posts and had some in draft so that I didn’t miss either publication, but I didn’t. I chose to use that time for other things, like my upcoming book. These choices impacted my day yesterday. But even then, I made the choice not to feel bad about it, because I wasn’t feeling well, and it just didn’t feel as important.

I have many choices in front of me today. We all do. That’s the point. There are choices all around us that need to be made. But we make so very many of them without thinking.

Recognizing Our Intentions

Answer some questions:

  • Is rest and sleep important to you? What time did you go to sleep and wake up? What did you do instead of going to sleep? Which choices did you make instead?
  • Is your health important to you? What did you choose to eat yesterday? How much time did you schedule for your fitness?
  • Is your future important to you? What moves did you make yesterday towards advancing that future? What did you do with your time instead?

If you stopped and answered those questions honestly, you’d see your choices in action. But more interestingly, you’d hear the voice of guilt, the voice of justification, the voice that excuses make to dull your guilt. You’d hear many little decisions and self-talk click in, all of which serve a purpose (most of which is the purpose of avoiding pain and discomfort, or the perceived pain and discomfort we associate with guilt).

We are Addicted to Excuses

What I’m saying is that we all grow very comfortable with our excuses and justifications. This impacts how we do our job. This impacts how we relate to those we love. This impacts how we face every moment of the day.

And the gravitational PULL of excuses and justification are huge. Think about it. “I really should work out today, but I’ve got so much stuff on my plate.” The word “but” is your indication that you didn’t mean what you said in the first half of the sentence.

The truth is, in the above example, you will always have so much stuff on your plate, and if you don’t, the excuse will be that you really should work out, but you’ve gotta search for work, so that you can have a lot of stuff on your plate.

I’m right there with you. I’m addicted to excuses the same as you, the same as everyone. But that’s also not an excuse, not license to do nothing. It’s a call to action.

Live Your Plan

If you don’t have a direction or goal or path in mind, how will you know you’re going the right way? I’ve recently made a commitment to my fitness and health. I now have a very simple path that I can clearly explain. When I’m not on the path, it’s really clear. So I make choices that keep me on that path. In my case, my simple path is to eat more meals than not according to my goals, and to make time for fitness five times a week. There are no excuses allowed for this. Even with a head cold, I’m working out today.

The trick to this all is creating enough simple paths and putting success in our way every day (I wrote about this recently in a post about discipline.)

But then beyond that, it’s becoming acutely aware of choices, and of seeing each moment that they come up as an opportunity to practice the response that is in better alignment with your goals. I’m writing about this today because I saw a very obvious stumbling point of my own come up. And for once (and yes, it’s rare for all of us, and even that is something to think about), I made the right choice in this specific instance.

Success Breeds Success

One last point and then I’ll let you go. The more times I choose to honor my paths and avoid excuses and justification, the more times I can leverage that success for other things. My eating better and getting more healthy remind me to stay more disciplined about other things in my life. All of this together is leading me towards even better choices. There’s a snowball effect at play here. The more we can work on our choices, the more times we can have small victories and bring that success to bear on other choices in our lives.

If you stopped right now and just wrote five choices you’d like to think about today and for the rest of the month – just five, I bet you’d have a better time of things. If you had even the simplest of guides to the path you’d prefer, versus what comes up or what can be excused and justified, even if this is just a starting point for something else, I promise you’d feel better.

What do you think? Are you willing to make that choice?

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