Choice – one of the fundamental freedoms we all desire in our lives. That sense of self determination, control perhaps. We want to choose for ourselves, not have others dictate the content of our lives.
Yet, sometimes choice can become a burden rather than a freedom. When we are surrounded by too many choices, we end up paralysed – unable to choose. A restaurant menu that goes on for pages and pages, any tile shop these days with thousands of options, the Sky TV guide’s ever growing list of channels. And for me at the moment – the endless choice of themes for WordPress. I thought getting this blog up and running would be a quick job but finding just the right theme from the thousands available is proving a timeconsuming task.
We become the proverbial Kid In The Candy Store, who stares at an endless array of jars of sweets completely enthralled by the wonder of it all, yet unable to choose what to spend their few pennies on. Fear sets in – what if we make the wrong choice? Not such a problem if we’re talking about which TV show to watch, a slightly expensive problem if we are selecting tiles but potentially life changing if we are making choices in business, lifestyle or love.
Early 2008, as I became determined to climb out of the fur-lined rut that my life had become, I asked the universe for lots of opportunities to do business. As we are warned – “be careful what you wish for”. The universe dutifully sent me lots of people with a broad range of products and services that I could promote in exchange for commission and royalties (my best route to wealth – I’ll explain more in a later post). But how could I work with them all? Which one(s) should I choose, which should I turn down? I became that Kid In The Candy Store. I dabbled around, tinkering with one then another and so failed to give any of them enough focus to succeed.
When I finally made a choice, the sense of commitment I felt to that choice drove me to action. There was a terrific sense of relief that all the other options no longer had any influence or power over me. By committing to something I had focused my energy and was able to achieve so much more as a result. As it turned out, that first choice didn’t bring me the success I had hoped for (perhaps another tale for another day) but I do not regret making it for an instant as what followed gave me some of the best learning experiences of my life.
Then there are times when choice is taken away from us – or it seems to be. I had been wanting to spend more time in Cyprus but kept finding myself stuck in the UK. It seemed I had no choice – things just kept coming up to keep me there. But actually I did have a choice. I didn’t realise it but I was choosing to make those interruptions and obligations more important than my dream. So on 27th December I got on a plane and went to Cyprus. With no real plan of what was going to happen next – just a strong desire to be there, knowing that if I got there I would find a way of staying there. I made a choice where it had seemed there had been none.
Sometimes we think we have to choose between option A and option B, without realising that actually we can have both. Perhaps we feel having both is too confusing, too difficult but then we are, without realising it, making another choice – we are choosing to believe we can’t rather than choosing to find a way so that we can.
There is also the question of how our beliefs, past experience and the influence of others affects our ability to choose. How many people have missed out on a fantastic cruise because many years ago they once got seasick and don’t want to get on a boat again? My father spent his whole life convinced that flying was dangerous and so he never travelled. When we allow all this influence in, we choose with our minds rather than our hearts. This can again lead us back to the Candy Store with all our experiences and fears and the opinions of others keeping us hopping from one option to another.
It is only when we quiet all those voices, both internal and external and listen to the quiet voice of our heart that we are able to really choose. Will it be the right choice? Who knows. Only time will tell. But it will be a true choice and one that, even if it doesn’t work out, we will never regret.