The power of choice

Photo by Anthony Martino on Unsplash

Many articles have been written, and many TED Talks have spoken on this topic. Analysis paralysis is a real part of our daily lives, and although it might sound spoiled to my East-European parents, it is a real struggle. Why? Simply because it’s not only about endless options of different types of TVs and chocolate bars. It’s all about our lives. And the impact of ostensible, endless opportunities restrains the ability in us, western millennials, to make conscious choices about things that actually matter.

We are told we can study whatever we want and become whoever we want. But, in the end, we end up in “safe” office jobs, with similar cars, watching the same Netflix shows, taking the same pictures of our Sunday avocado brunches.

We are told how important it is to “be ourselves” but not being accepted by “important” people becomes our ultimate failure.

We are told we should spend our lives only with people who are “worth it” only to be judged for being “too picky” if still single in our thirties.

We choose to trap ourselves because it feels safe. And we waste opportunities to make the critical choices in selecting the “right” jobs, the “right” outfits and the “right” presentation of our lives on social media. And this is how many of us end up completely disconnected from who we are.

We try to fill the void by getting that salary raise, promotion or cooler holiday. If that doesn’t help, we think we may be depressed and that we need to fix ourselves. We have it all – there must be something wrong with us if we don’t feel happy, right?

The thing is, we are giving up on our possibility to choose our lives in exchange for what we consider “safety”. We simulate our power to choose by picking things or experiences from imaginary “lists of available options”, but is it really us who is choosing?

Although we really do have endless opportunities, we are often too distracted to see them or too scared to consider them as real options. We only see what we could lose if we chose to live a life that is not dependent on other people’s approval. But choice, the real choice, is also considering what we lose by staying where we are.

We say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But if we knew what we really want, we could search the bush until we found it.

How would your life look like if you switched your “choice autopilot” off for a couple of days? If you became really conscious of your choices?

At this very moment, you are now choosing to read my article, and you are choosing to do that over something else – what is that? Once you make your choice to go to work tomorrow – what is it that you are choosing not to do instead? Once you wake up tomorrow to choose to spend another day of your life with your significant other – what is it exactly, that makes you choose this specific person? If you say YES to calling your mom, what are you saying NO to? What makes taking that Instagram selfie essential to you?

Choice is not about having options A, B or C. It is not about going through a “menu” of possibilities. The real, powerful choice is about knowing ourselves and knowing what is important to us. Then creating the life we want, knowing what that costs and what will that bring us in the end. To do that, you don’t need anyone’s approval, only your own.

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to check out this one: If I can do it, anyone can.

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