In life, we always have a choice yet many of us go through life feeling as though we don’t. We feel that we don’t have enough opportunity or the right situations never seem to come up for us.
This negative mindset tends to create a feeling of hopelessness. We feel that there’s no hope for improvement so we shut down and look for external sources to point the finger at.
But we always have choices. The choices may between a bad and a really bad option. The choices may be between a good option and an ok option. But regardless, whenever something happens to us, we do have the ability to choose how we respond to that situation.
Once you realize that you do, in fact, have choices, then things start to change. Instead of feeling hopeless, you start to see potential. You can envision things improving and getting better.
But this often means another difficult choice. This time the choice is usually to do the hard work necessary to reach that vision or to look for reasons you could fail now to save you the trouble of trying.
I see a lot of people struggle with this and when I was younger I struggled to understand this. I was always trying to shortcut everything. I would look for a quicker, easier way without fully understanding what I was giving up in order to have quick and easy.
The reality is that we can always choose between quick, easy and effective. If we are strategic we can usually choose two of those at one time. But in order to have all three, we have to take risks and make sacrifices that are generally not worth it and many times don’t end up being effective.
One example was when I wanted to get in shape. I was in college and my sedentary habits were dominating everything I did. I never exercised and the only physical activity I took part in, was required of me, such as walking to class.
Because I wanted quick and easy I tried a gimmicky product that “guaranteed” to shed pounds while sitting on the couch. The little device would send electrical pulses to your midsection in order to tighten your muscles for you.
I thought this was perfect. I could sit around eating whatever I wanted, drinking whatever I wanted and get in great shape. Obviously it didn’t work so well for me.
In this instance I took a risk. I risked injury from the unit (which I believe happened to others who purchased this particular model). I also risked it not working as it was marketed. I sacrificed a real exercise routine and this convinced me to ignore the nutrition side of improving my health.
I poke fun at myself now for being so naïve when I was younger but the reality is that this situation points to a common mindset. For some it may be to take diet pills, try the latest fad diet, buy the latest fitness miracle product, or take a certain vitamin.
Usually when we look for quick and easy, effective is not coming along with it. And if it does it usually involves side effects that cause more harm than good (think of steroids or extreme dieting).
But there is a much better way to try and improve throughout life. It is to ignore one of those factors in order to gain the other two. If we decide to ignore quick, we can structure a plan to be easy and effective. But we have to understand leverage in order to do it.
Leverage is the idea of using a small change in your routines or habits that is very small and easy to do. But instead of just doing it once, you work to do it over and over again. This starts to become a habit and we start to go on autopilot in order to keep going with the habit. We do it more and more and more and then start adding more and more to the new habit. Over time this results in larger success. We leverage time in order to gain easy and effective.
Change isn’t necessary in life and if we can’t see the choices in our lives we probably spend our whole life avoiding change.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming once said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
I love that quote. We don’t have to see the choices in our lives and work to improve but the alternative is that we just keep going with what we have and never realize our full potential and the full potential to find success and happiness. So remember, regardless of the situation, we always have a choice. Learning improvement techniques such as leveraging time by focusing on habits, we start to see a clearer picture of the choices available to us.