What distinguishes us from animals is free will. We have the power of choice. And choice is just that, POWER. It is a catalyst for change. It can elevate us to heroic heights or hurl us to desperate levels of despair. A glimpse at the life of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, reveals the potent power of choice. When still a teenager, he met John F. Kennedy, a meeting that moved him deeply. As a result, he decided one day he, too, would become president of the most powerful country on earth. That choice the decision to become a politician instead of a jazz musician brought him much honor and glory. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the choice he made to engage in sexual activity in The White House with Monica Lewinsky. That regretful decision led to shame and disgrace.
Such is the power of choice. It can bring us closer to or further from our dreams. A good part of our waking day is spent in making choices. It begins as soon as the alarm goes off. Do we get out of bed immediately or push the snooze button? Do we prepare for work or call in sick? At the job, do we work hard or goof off? All during the day we continue making choices as we decide what to do next. Do I tackle the most important task or make a personal telephone call? Do I answer my business messages or chat with coworkers over coffee? Each decision I make points me to the road of success or the path of mediocrity.
Many of us act as if were in rudderless boats drifting in the sea of life. Our destination? Who knows? We arrive wherever the currents and tides take us. But it doesnt have to be that way. You see, the boat were in has a rudder! It can steer us to the shore of success. That rudder is CHOICE. If we use it, we can become the captain of our destiny.
We didnt decide to be born. And after entering the world, no one handed us a book of instructions on how to succeed in life. So, its not surprising that many make mistakes. Some of the instructions we didnt receive are the following five steps. Following them can help us to maximize the potential positive power of CHOICE.
1. Be aware of your choices. This is not as easy as you think. Why? Because most of the time our boat (mind) is on autopilot. Instead of deciding whether to rise at the sound of the alarm or hit the snooze button, for example, we act automatically. We act by force of habit. If its a good habit, thats great, as there is one less decision to make. But if it is a bad habit, our boat will move away from the shore of success and head for the rocks. Imagine not being aware of that! To avoid such danger, force yourself to become aware of your choices.
2. Analyze your choices. Once you become aware of making a decision, ask yourself, Will this choice help me to succeed or hold me back?
3. Make your choice. After realizing whether the choice is helpful or harmful, make a decision for the best.
4. Act on your choice. Decisions without action are worthless, for they are mere pipe dreams, not plans. As Arnold H. Glasow wrote, Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied.
5. Multiply your choices. One choice is no choice and two choices may pose a dilemma. However, three or more alternatives offer flexibility and provide you with the option of making the best possible choice.
The next time you plan on making New Year resolutions (choices), here are some you may want to consider:
From this day forward, I choose to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
To those who share their fears, I choose to share my courage.
I choose to stop robbing my future by being irresponsible.
I will never be ashamed to admit that I was wrong. For to do so means that I am wiser today than I was yesterday.
I will always remember that the true measure of individuals is the height of their ideals, the breadth of their compassion, the depth of their convictions, and the length of their patience.