In her column for The Best You, parenting expert Sue Atkins considers how to pick the best options
This month I’ve been pondering choices as I’ve been working with a young woman recently who acts like a victim. She blames her boyfriend for getting her pregnant and treating her badly, she blames her teachers for kicking her out of school as she relentlessly defied the rules, and she blames her last employer who sacked her because she became belligerent, argumentative and rude to the customers for the situation she now finds herself in.
She blames everyone and everything except herself. She takes no responsibility for the decisions that she made along the way that led to the situation she now finds herself in.
So this got me pondering about what is the single force that shapes the quality of our lives and how do we teach it to our children? I believe it is the choices that we make. It is our decisions, not our conditions that define the course our lives take.
I think it’s helpful to ponder that we are where we are today because of the decisions we’ve made – decisions about what to focus on, decisions about where to place our priorities, decisions about what things mean and decisions about what to do, how to act and what to say. Of course some of us have grown up in more challenging circumstances than others, but no matter what we have experienced in the past, our history is not our destiny – we all have the power to make new decisions starting from today.
The new, better, more empowering choices you make today can transform your whole life… over time.
I often say that it’s no good driving forward constantly looking in the rear view mirror. That’s allowing your past to impact and continue to affect your future.
Each of us has two distinct choices to make about what we will do with our lives. The first choice we can make is to be less than we have the capacity to be. To try less, work less, contribute less, earn less, have less, read less, think less and discipline ourselves less.
These are the choices that lead to an empty life. These are the choices that, once made, lead to a life of constant apprehension, fear, anxiety and playing small instead of a life of wondrous anticipation.
And the second choice? To do it all! To become all that we can possibly be. To give 110 per cent, to read every book that we possibly can. To earn as much as we possibly can. To give and share as much as we possibly can. To strive and produce and accomplish as much as we possibly can.
All of us can choose which path we are going to step onto if we are mindful about the choices and decisions that we are making.
It’s about having the mindset to be the best we can be and to reflect and ponder on the small, as well as the big decisions we are constantly having to make.
It’s about developing our confidence, tenacity, and decision-making, and seeing the bigger picture. It’s about sometimes delaying our instant gratification to focus on the bigger goal to our lives and taking small, regular steps towards that vision – whatever it might be for us.
It’s also about taking responsibility for our choices too and learning from our mistakes.
Anyone can blame their parents, the government, the weather or the economy for their misfortune or circumstances but it takes courage to step back, pause and reflect on the choices that we made that contributed to where we find ourselves.
So get clear about what you want to be, do and have, and what your life will be like after you accomplish these things. With that clarity, you’ll find it becomes easier to make the kinds of decisions that will move you in the direction of what you really want.
Visit thebestyoumagazine.co to read more of Sue’s advice for making life choices.
Pause to ponder
Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
- What are your standards that you hold yourself accountable for?
- What will you demand from life?
Decide today if you’ll accept life as it is or if you’ll live your life on your own terms, at the edge and at the highest level. It’s not easy, quick or always straightforward to carve a life that you want for yourself – it takes hard work and determination but through your choices you can create a life that’s lived on your terms with integrity, personal satisfaction and fulfilment.
Success, happiness and a fulfilling life is the result of your daily choices. Create habits and rituals that will allow you to experience new levels of achievement. At the start of each day, take some time for silence and reflection. Carve out some time daily to generate ideas, and focus on creating a new version of yourself. Take time to ponder your choices. What can you do this week to talk and teach your kids to take responsibility for the choices that they make regardless of their age? How can you model the blueprint of ‘choice’ being at the centre of a fulfilling life for your kids by the things you do and say?