While walking home from the University of Montana campus a few weeks ago, I noticed someone hunched over, walking very deliberately, listening intently to someone he was conversing with via his mobile phone. A few moments later, he arched his back and let out an audible sigh, telling the other person “You don’t have to make perfect choices. Just make good ones.”
I love that.
You don’t have to make perfect choices. Just make good ones.
Make choices that are good for you and for your own self care, your own life journey. From that place, that inner personal compass you can also take better care of others in your family, in your workplace, and in your community.
But how the hell do you really do that?
First, get into the practice of being still and listening to your heart. Tune in to a decision you are about to make and really feel the options you are considering.Does a choice feel open, expansive and full of energy? Does it light you up, or deflate you? Does it excite you more than it scares you?
One area where many people trip themselves up is over choices they have already made in life, and feeling conflicted and fatalistic about how this may play into their present and future
After my Mom died this past October, I wallowed and dwelled in a lot of “what if’s” and other second guessing about our relationship and the occasional rocky times that we had. About three months later, I realized we had both made the best choices we could have made, and that there was nothing I could do now to go back and fix anything. Nor could my Mom.
It is what it is, a friend of mine in Bozeman likes to say. Let it go and move on. Be kind to yourself. Deep in your heart, forgive yourself and others. Wish others happiness and self-forgiveness, see and believe in the best in yourself and others. To paraphrase a quote I came across some years ago, keep only the love and the lessons learned, and apply those lessons learned in the present.
Making good present and future choices can be just as tricky We all seem to take turns looking back at some of our decisions later, and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?” at times, but know that this is part of living and learning for everyone.The Japanese expression wabi-sabi comes to mind, meaning that in nature and in life, everything is perfectly imperfect.
Procrastinating, and postponing making choices, can contribute to our downfall as well. When we do this, we often still end up making hasty decisions and creating consequences that require considerable clean-up if we are not mindful. Give yourself contemplative time to make a choice that is good for you, and take time to define what good really means to you Then take action and commit to that course of action. The universe loves it when we are consistent and decisive, and not wishy-washy.
People-pleasing is another contributor to making not-so-good choices. Are you doing something in order to not disappoint someone else or to be in their favor? Because you find it hard to say no to others, or yes to yourself? As someone recently asked in a business workshop, “Are these people going to pay your bills?” Do a gut check when things get murky or feel conflicted, and decide if what others would like you to do is what you would really like to do, or not.
Here are a few more suggestions to help out when you’re feeling conflicted and stuck while considering different choices:
1.) Be conscious of your needs and desires, your core values, and what you really want to experience in life.
2.) Don’t say yes just to get along or go along.
3.) You can make course corrections at any time if you’re brave and honest enough to acknowledge what’s not working, but give yourself time to learn whether something’s working (or not working) rather than yanking the proverbial seedling out of the flower pot to see how things are going.
Perfectionism can be a formidable stumbling block to making good choices. A close friend and fellow entrepreneur is a self-described “recovering perfectionist.” She loved doing lots of research on topics and weighing their pros and cons before making still agonizing decisions. Eventually, she realized that this was also procrastinating, and getting in the way of moving her business forward. Now that she realizes this pattern and can catch herself way sooner when she slips into this mode, she’s more consistently making better choices that help her be more effective at work, and have more time to enjoy her non-working life, too!
Pessimism is yet another potential foe to making good choices. One example is believing stories others or you have created about yourself in the past and allowing them to influence future outcomes. This could range from “I’ve always sucked at math” to “No one in my family has ever been successful going it alone in business” to “it’s too late, I’m too old, I’m not deserving, or I’ll never have enough money to do X.” Or it could come in the form of waiting or delaying something, like “only after I retire/the kids are out of the house could I ever do Y.”
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t-you’re right.”
Perhaps pessimism is the most challenging obstacle of all in making good, and better choices in our lives, yet mastering this tendency doesn’t magically change overnight. It’s like developing any new habit or set of muscles. It takes time, commitment, and a renewed, can-do mindset. It requires you to dig deep and find evidence that in the past you have made some good choices that fuel you into making more good ones in the present. We may fail at times, but we are never a failure if we try, and if we get back up and try again. And again. And again.
We’re only human.
We are all wabi sabi.
We’re not meant to live our lives in a vacuum thinking that our choices don’t matter, or that they don’t impact other people. We have to have thicker skin, and move beyond fear and analysis paralysis to taking courageous action. We have to do the dance of being unattached to outcomes, how things unfold, or how things may appear as they unfold.
Somewhere out there, someone else is looking for inspiration and evidence that they, too, can do what they dream of doing. Sometimes, even when we think we are not making any progress at all, someone else notices and reminds us how far we’ve come and changed, and we in turn are inspired to keep going and growing.
Choose to keep going, no matter what Refuse to believe that your best days are behind you.
As Winston Churchill once said,
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
P.S. I’d love to hear how this article resonated with you. Feel free to email me at harehobie at gmail dot com and let me know. A book that deals with resistance and making good choices that I highly recommend is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.