Monday, June 27, 2011

Your Life, Your Choice

According to Kevin Hogan, author of the definitive The Psychology of Persuasion, research shows that when people are provided with choices in their lives they feel more in control of their lives and their experiences.  However, when a goal is forced upon them, they are more likely to put less effort into the attainment of that goal, and to value the final result less.

Hmm... seems straight forward.  However, the implications are much more significant.  In my book, It's Time Now, Choose the Life you Really Want, I talk about the fact that often the dissatisfaction we feel with and in our lives is a direct result of living a life that others have chosen for us, rather than consciously living one of our own choosing.  The research that Kevin was referencing above supports this.  We are going to feel much more motivated to carry out and complete tasks and goals that we have set for ourselves than we are those that have been imposed on us. 

The equation is pretty simple then.  Want to feel better about your life?  Choose what you want from it and go after it.  In my Life and Career coaching though, I see people mess this equation up time and time again.  In our efforts to keep those around us happy, we get caught up in fulfilling their wants and needs, rather than our own, often leaving us with little time left to spend on moving ourselves forward in a direction of our choosing. 
  • parents think we should be a lawyer, even though we love the thought of teaching... so we go to law school
  • our boss feels that the next strategic career move for us would be to take on a role in sales, despite the fact that we prefer analysis... so we move into sales
  • our spouse wants to move into a house with a huge backyard, even though we hate gardening... so we move into the house with the big backyard
  • our family wants to go on a week long hiking trip, though we would prefer a vacation that pampers us and feels less like 'work'... so we go hiking
  • friends want to go out to opera, we'd prefer to go to a movie... we end up seeing opera
  • we feel like Italian, we end up eating Chinese...
Sure... we face compromises every day.  That's life.  We don't likely get our way all the time, but some of the time?  We should.  On the 'big life-changing' stuff?  We better.  Think for a moment how difficult it would be to live a life where none of your choices mattered, where none of your preferences counted, where nothing that mattered to you actually got done in your life?  Depressed even thinking about it?  Imagine the impact of living it.

Yet... some of us are doing just that.  We have compromised ourselves into living other people's choices, other people's definitions of 'a life'.  The bottom line though is that this is YOUR life.  YOUR choices, YOUR life.  Giving in to other peoples choices for us is living a life by default, but... and this is the big point... drumroll please... it is still a CHOICE.  And... it's your choice. 

You are choosing to sacrifice your wants, needs, hopes, satisfaction, happiness, esteem... to fulfill something for someone else.  They better be someone you really care about.  My question to you though... how much do they truly care about you if they allow this to continue, day after day, choice after choice?  And... really... how much do you care about you to allow it to continue, day after day, choice after choice?

Food for thought, isn't it?  Trying to please everyone around you will not, I repeat WILL NOT, ever, (never ever) make you happy.  Defining what you want from your life and making that happen, working to please you...  always will. 

Your life, your choices... choose consciously, choose wisely.. but CHOOSE!

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