Life is Choice
Last week I talked about the first part of the Live Your Passion process - "Discovering the Authentic You", a prerequisite to actually feeling and living your passion! The second part of the process is called “Exploring Life’s Options” and it involves the principle of choice. In this context, I am referring to choice as your ability to make decisions by looking at life as a series of individual choices leading you in a specific direction. The word “direction” is important to keep in mind. I use the “road to happiness” as a metaphor; In the book I made the point that discovering the authentic you is an important first step and a way to avoid a turn onto “victim lane.” When you are making good choices and going in the direction that is right for you, then you will be on the road to happiness.
Let’s look at choice by identifying what in your life needs to change. If you have read Live Your Passion, or follow my blog posts, you now have a better understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, values and personal mission. Using this new insight, ask yourself the following: “In what area of my life would I like to see change happen first?” If you are not sure, ask yourself this: “Where am I experiencing the most “pain”? The answer to one or both of these questions will help you get a clearer picture of where to begin.
While all of this is easy for most people to understand intellectually, I often wonder why it is so hard for many of us to make good choices and pick the best options in life. Perhaps the answer, in part, is that people don’t always recognize they have so much control over their happiness. They often let life happen to them rather than make life happen for themselves.
If life is so much about choice, we as individuals have enormous power over our lives and circumstances. Think about it — at one extreme, we even hold the power to choose to live or not to live. While it’s true that most of us don’t see the alternative to life as a realistic (or desirable) choice, it is our choice nonetheless. Looking at life and choice from this absolute perspective is healthy and serves as a good starting place for most people contemplating change.
The difference between good choices and bad choices is to a large extent subjective. What is “good” for you may not be “good” for me or another person and so on. Deciding what’s good for you is based on your life circumstances at that moment and your own judgment.
One of the reasons that the Live Your Passion process is so effective is that it asks you to first look closely at yourself to get a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of life. This serves as a strong foundation for making choices consistent with your strengths, values and the mission you have defined for yourself. When approaching life from this perspective, you begin to look at life’s options differently. This shift may feel strange at first because it is not necessarily the way you have approached decision making in the past. It may also feel strange, perhaps even uncomfortable, if there are people in your life who do not understand, or who may disagree with — or feel threatened by — your new direction. Your positive change may feel uncomfortable for others as you begin to approach life differently.
Change is Strange
Let’s consider Jane as an example. After working with the Live Your Passion process, Jane has a better understanding of the things she values most. She recognizes that education is an important value and it is time for her to take action. She starts taking night classes to work toward a degree in marketing, something Jane has discovered she has an aptitude for. As Jane begins the process, she realizes some of her old friends do not share her value of education; in fact, some have expressed that school is a waste of time and money. As she makes new choices about how she spends her time (attending night school and studying), she finds that some of her old friends are not as supportive as she had hoped and begin treating her differently. Jane starts to realize the importance of surrounding herself with people who support her choices, which means not spending time with some old friends. For Jane, this feels different. For Jane, “change is strange.”
If you wish to make positive change, you must let go of negative forces that might pull you in the opposite direction. Change, even good change, really can feel strange!
I hope this week's blog entry helps you begin thinking about the things in life that may require chang if you are to free yourself from some past obstacles and move in a new direction. The book, Live Your Passion is full of exercises and stories that can help you as you travel on your own road to happiness.
Thanks for reading, until next time......