I believe that although things do happen “to us” such as we were born poor, had a bad childhood, got sick, didn’t go to college, were left by the love of our life. These stories of what happened in our lives are true and often tragic but they are only part of the equation of why we are where we are. The other factor as to why things are the way they are in our lives is related to the choices that we have made in our lives, despite the external circumstances we find ourselves in.
We have the power of choice. We have the power to choose how to act in every area of our lives, no matter what. And we are the product of the choices that we’ve made, from the relationships we have, the way we spend our time, how we make a living and even to the minutia of the mattress that we sleep on. In order to take action in our lives, we have to understand the choices we’ve made and how they have affected our lives.
Many people don’t realize that we even have the power to choose how to feel about a situation. I have a friend who has to have a lot of expensive and painful dental work done over the next couple of months. She told me that she could really get miserable about the situation but instead, she is going to choose to have a good attitude about it and keep it positive. She said, “Why make it worse by fretting and being bummed out over something that is going to happen anyway?”
I know there are a lot of reasons that people take the road that is right in front of them. Taking the easier, softer, non rock-the-boat path may seem the thing to do and the problem is, it is often the path, which is reinforced by the people we surround ourselves with. I am not judging, sometimes we do what we have to do. Though getting into and staying on a path that is not working you can come at a huge cost.
Think about the very talented woman who has stayed in an abusive job, where she is treated miserably and underpaid, or the young man just out of college who rather than thinking about what he would like to do and where he would like to work and going for that, takes a job with a company his friend works for because he had an in, or the woman who is ready to get back in the job market after raising a family and is looking for a job in “her field”, even though she has not worked in that field for 15 years and didn’t even like it back then; A man that is hell-bent on making a job or relationship work rather than seeing it for what it is and choosing a different path.
Self-awareness is the key. Take a look at all of the areas in your life and see what is working and what isn’t. You will then begin to see what choices you need to make to change your life for the better. Recently, a friend of mine held a dating workshop at my space. She had the participants make a list of all of the things that were important to them in a relationship and the qualities of the kind of person they wanted in as much detail as possible. This seems like such a simple step, yet it can make a big difference to declare that you do have preferences and that you have a choice about who you will “fall in love” with. Kelly said, “If you want children and the man you are dating is certain that he doesn’t, believe him and move on.”
The list thing can also be very helpful with your career. What lights you up? Do you like to work on a team or alone? Are you best with detail work or good at seeing the big picture? Are you corporate or creative? You get the picture. Doing this exercise whether for a life partner or a career underlines the fact that we do have a choice.
You may find it helpful to get someone outside of your circle of friends and family to help you see your strengths and weaknesses wants and desires and recognize possibilities you may not have even considered. With open-eyed, pragmatism it is possible to tell yourself a new story and to reinvent the life you want.