How to choose

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always choosing. When we’re not choosing, we’re choosing not to choose. 

We choose how we live, who we live with and how we raise our kids. We choose our work and we choose how we work. We choose how to sell. We choose the customers we do business with. We choose how we show up, sell and think. We choose how we talk to others. We choose what we expect from others. 

We make choices every minute. When it rains, we choose whether we see a collection of shimmering drops fallen from heaven’s oceans or just another annoying rain. We choose to look for the hug or for the grin. There is always a choice we’re making.

Do you feel free, vibrant and alive? It’s because you chose to be that way. Do you feel successful? It’s because you chose to wear success every morning when you wake up. Do you feel loving? It’s because you chose to be love, give love and express love.

The choices we make are important. But, I think that how we live with our choices is even more important than the choices we make. 

In my opinion, the most important choice you can make is choosing to bring yourself in alignment with your choices.

I heard an analogy once that I loved and I want to share it with you. Imagine, if you will, that you’re standing at the shore of a river and you’re deciding between jumping in a boat or standing by. Either choice can offer its own rewards. What’s not rewarding is choosing to jump in the boat, removing its anchor, but then holding on tight with all your strength to the dock as the waters of the river want to carry your boat away. Or, what’s not rewarding is choosing to stand on the shore, but then cursing the empty boat. 

In our society, we tend to look up to people who seem at ease with making decisions and flowing with these decisions. It is not the fact that they make decisions that we admire, but the ease with which they make these choices. It is the ease that we want, and that ease is something all of us can feel. 

Photo credit: Ezra Comeau

Photo credit: Ezra Comeau

What if the most important choice you’re making is not choosing between A or B, but choosing to bring yourself in alignment with whichever choice, A, or B, you make? Owning it, flowing with it and believing in yourself? Not looking at the empty boat and not holding on tight to the bank. Just flowing softly yet aimfully, with whatever you’ve decided, just like the river’s water flows towards the ocean. What if, no matter which choice you make, you can thrive equally in your life, as long as you’re fully aligned with the choice you made?

Not being able to make choices makes people feel suffocated.

When you feel torn between two choices and can’t make a decision, you feel the same way as you do when you hold your breath for too long. You don’t feel good. You feel powerless, unstable and unable. You feel frozen, because you have essentially robbed yourself of the flow of life that choosing to choose provides you with. I know this very well because I felt this way many times. Think of the word choice in this way, Cho-Ice, choose or turn into ice. Brrrr.

When you can’t make a choice, you feel negative emotion because you can’t move forward. Your natural state of being is one of moving forward, building up, not one of creating buildup.

But, why do we find it hard to choose sometimes?

Photo credit: Samantha Hartley

Photo credit: Samantha Hartley

One big reason why people can’t make choices is because they feel unsafe making a new choice.

To make a choice means that you select an option from two or more options. It means that you express a preference for an option. When you choose, you prefer one thing over another thing.

To prefer something means that you turn your back to something else. Therefore, you have to be comfortable with giving up options or possibilities. You have to feel safe with the choices you’re making. 

When people feel unsafe with the prospect of a new choice, they feel unloved and unprotected heading towards something different, vague, unrealized yet and mostly unknown. They feel unsafe giving away the safety of what they would leave behind. So, they stay put and they don’t exert their power to choose. 

On the other hand, people for whom safety is a non-issue, people who decided that they are always protected, loved and accepted, will make more choices in life, business and work. They expand their careers constantly and consciously, not because of the recognition they might get as a result, but because of the sheer excitement they feel when they consciously create self-growth. 

“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Albert Einstein

Our choices are fluid and ever changing. Re-state what you’re choosing. 

Your blood flows every second. Your cells pulsate every second. You’re always moving, thinking, eating, drinking, touching, being touched. Therefore, just like a river that is constantly flowing, are you ever the same today as you were yesterday? Or even this minute, as you were a minute ago?  

You are always changing. You are fluid. Nobody and nothing can contain you because you are always flowing. As a result, you’ll want to revisit and re-make the choices that are beneficial to you. Remind yourself of what you’re choosing to invite into your life.

Our choices build. 

Our lives, our present moment, our future moments, our work, our business are all built by the choices we’ve made, consciously or not. Think of each choice we make as a brick that builds the neverending and always changing house that represents our life. If you don’t like a brick, you can push it out gently and replace it skillfully with a new one. If you like a brick, you can add others just like it. 

With every thought, every emotion, every choice, every hug and every cringe we are building a house, a legacy or a memory. Everything starts with one choice. 

Here are 9 ideas to help you make your choices.

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

#1. Understand that you are different from others. 

You are a unique human being because every human being is unique. You are unlike any other human being on Earth. It is true. This does not make you more significant than anybody else, but it does make you different. 

You have your own path, your own learning to achieve, and your own experience to live in your life. The choices you make have to enhance your unique experience, not someone else’s. Somebody with a different life experience will make different choices. Don’t make your choices depending on what you see him or her do. You are different and therefore, only you know what the best choice for you is. 

I can tell you with confidence that there isn’t such a thing as one size fits all in business and in career. Therefore, in order to be successful, you have to be comfortable making your own choices, even when nobody before you has chosen what you’re choosing or even when your choices seem bizarre to others. Choose for you and you alone, the you that only you know best.

#2. Which choice will make it easier for you to feel aligned with?

This is why I wanted to share with you the importance of bringing yourself in alignment with the choice you make. No matter what choice you make, it’s important that you feel at ease with what you’ve chosen. Owning what you choose is in my opinion even more important than the choice you make. Otherwise, you will end up feeling fragmented and split, and you’ll be back to square one in an endless loop that wastes your precious energy.

So, think of how you would feel after making any of the choices you could make. Which choice feels lighter to you? After which choice are you most likely to feel at ease, in alignment, free and fast moving? 

I know a woman who took a step back in her career once. She did this consciously because she felt it was the right choice for her. She told me, sometimes you have to take a step back in order to make a leap forward. This woman owned her choice, even when others around her didn’t understand why she chose to take a step back. Two years went by and she was happier, more successful and more fulfilled than I’d ever seen her. But she couldn’t have made her leap forward if she wasn’t completely aligned with her choice to take a step back. 

#3. Consider your long term strategy.

Where do you want to be 10 and 50 years from now? Does choosing this bring you closer to your long term goal? Does it fit in your overall strategy? Do you want to be the president of a company? Do you want to run your own successful company? Do you want be an author, a chef, a creator? Do you want to be the most sought after speaker in the world? Choose what brings you closer to your long term goal. 

#4. Remember the butterfly effect. 

According to the butterfly effect, a small change can produce great results. The term is closely associated with Edward Lorenz’ work, who discovered in his analysis of weather conditions that a small change in initial conditions can produce a significantly different outcome. Even a tornado can be influenced by the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly weeks earlier. 

In your work and business as well, every little choice you make can lead to big results. Don’t underestimate the importance of a phone call, an email or a thought you keep repeating to yourself. 

#5. Make money profit and make emotional profit. 

I think we make two types of coin, the money coin and the emotional coin. The money coin is the real profit you make in your business. It’s very important to consider your profit and understand the balance between the money you spend and the money you make. 

The emotional coin is the emotion we feel as a result of the work we’re doing. It’s important to consider this coin as well when making choices. Will we feel more joyous, more productive, more fulfilled through this choice? I think most of us strive towards a balance between these two types of coins. 

#6. If you were the most successful you could possibly be in this world, what would you choose?

Think about this with little choices and with big choices as well. I strongly encourage you to make all your choices as if you’ve already achieved all the success you want to achieve and all the success you don’t know yet you want to achieve but that will please you to achieve it. What would a successful person choose? How would that person feel after they make their choice? Step into the choices that person would make.

#7. Will you regret not choosing this when you’re on your deathbed?

This question is at the forefront of my thinking every time I have to make big choices. I asked myself this question before deciding whether I should write the book I’m currently writing. I even asked myself this question before deciding if we should have a second baby. Was I scared I wouldn’t be able to handle it? You bet I was. But I knew I would regret it if I don’t take the leap. Now, I know I made the right choice. 

Somebody said to me once, you can’t fly if you don’t jump. I think that is true. 

#8. Rule out any choices that are detrimental. 

It sounds obvious, yet many choices we make are in fact detrimental, not helpful. I’m not talking about having a glass of wine on a Monday night. I’m referring to choosing to stay in a relationship with an abusing business partner. Choosing to continue to spend time with people who complain all the time or who don’t value others. Choosing to overlook gossip at work. Choosing to not remove ourselves from depleting situations until we regain our balance. Choosing to not remove the weeds in your garden because it’s more convenient to not put on your gardening boots. 

#9. Lastly, please consider this, where is your choice coming from? For small or big choices, bring yourself to a state of joy, then choose.

Imagine, if you will, that you live in a house with two rooms, one with grey walls and one with golden walls. When you’re in the grey room, you feel negative emotion. When you’re in the golden room, you feel positive emotion. 

Our days are much like that. We oscillate between feeling good and feeling bad. When we feel bad, we make different choices than when we feel good. You know it’s true.

Before you make decisions, make sure you’re in the room with golden walls. Pick yourself up from the grey room and walk next door to the golden one. It’s a choice to want to feel good.   

Ask yourself, where is this choice coming from? Was I in the golden room or in the grey room? If you were in the grey room, just wait until you find yourself happy again. Then, make that choice that undoubtedly resonates with you. 

With so much love,

Mihaela

Mihaela Akers