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We always have options

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

We always have options

Scott Miker

In life we always have a choice.  Even in the direst situations we still have a choice.  But too often we ignore those choices and feel limited to just one.

Many motivational speakers talk about response.  They say that there is an event, combined with our response, which then equals the outcome.  In theory this makes sense but it may be difficult to translate the theory into practice.

In my opinion the biggest reason that we don’t see the various options we have is because we automatically gravitate to one.  Once we make a decision we become very defensive of our own position and shift any blame for things not working out towards others.

But we can change.  We can start to take accountability for our actions.  Once we do we can start to see the various options that we have.  Sometimes these options are bad and we have to choose the best option among several bad ones. 

But sometimes we realize that the easy thing in the moment is actually the worst decision long-term.  The reality is that the best long-term approach is usually to address the problem and take the difficult steps early.  But this is usually the most uncomfortable short-term solution.

The choices we make are important.  They determine our habits, values and future.  In order to create the future you desire, you have to understand that and put in place the right systems to take you where you want to go.

There is a quote by Soren Kierkegaard that says, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

There are many times in my life when I looked back over circumstances and saw how much it all made sense.  But while going through those steps I usually never knew how it would impact me down the road. 

This can be good or bad.  It could be working hard at a job that seems miserable but the difficulties actually helped to grow and land the next opportunity.  Or it could be the avoidance of discomfort in addressing a problem that later turn into something unavoidable. 

The point is that the choices we make will impact our future so we need to understand the long-term consequences along with the short-term impulses.  It isn’t about sacrificing all satisfaction now but it also isn’t about always caving to impulse.  The key is to find balance that helps you achieve your goals.    

When it comes to our habits it is usually much less obvious.  Developing cancer due to smoking may seem like an easy thing to avoid but when the habit in ingrained it can be extremely difficult to quit.  Eating healthy may have great benefits but when faced with something delicious, yet unhealthy, it isn’t quite as simple as that. 

And the reality is that those that avoid some of those bad habits aren’t any better than anyone else.  They were just able to avoid the bad habits and develop good habits.  As simple as it sounds, it can actually be extremely difficult. 

So instead of feeling as though we don’t have any choice in life, realize that you can take control of the habits in your life.  Both positive and negative habits are controllable but unless we actively work to improve our habits we won’t realize the error of our ways until it is too late.  This is how we capitalize on the choices in life.