Choices, it’s better to have more than less right? But that’s not always true, and choosing can be difficult.
Regardless difficulty, choosing for yourself is important, especially when it comes to life and career. In the words spoken by, the fictional but no less profound, Professor Dumbledore to Harry Potter
“It’s not our abilities that show us what we truly are; it’s our choices.”
Many people avoid choosing, perhaps because they lack the ability to make an effective decision, or because they fear the consequences of a wrong one.
To many or too few – we always have once choice.
Viktor Frankl, the Nazi death camp survivor and founder of logo therapy, said it this way, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
So we always have a choice to choose our response to any situation. This is at the heart of Self-leadership, or living your life intentionally.
Interestingly we do not always get the best education in being intentional. A father once told me that he was having difficulty disciplining his teenage son; he had said to the boy, “Whilst under my roof, you have no choice.” With some empathy I shared a perspective that he might be handicapping his son’s abilities to learn to choose. Our choices have consequences and perhaps we need a gradient of consequences as we learn the power of choice?
It is rare that we ever have all the information to make a choice that we are 100% certain of the outcome. Even when we are in the process of making a life or career decision, we can be blinded by our own biases. With this in mind, here is a process to maximize your chance of making an intention and effective decision.
- Own your right to choose. You have a birthright to make choices independent of your family and culture.
- Analyze your choices before you make them. “Do I have all the facts? Will this choice benefit me/others, in the short/long term?”
- Get input on your choices. With a major choice do not be afraid to get input from others but remain in control.
- Accept the consequences. You must take responsibility for your choices good or bad.
- Get feedback on your choices. Notice the effects of your choice and make adjustments as necessary.
It takes a high degree of self-awareness and discipline to consciously use this process. We make many life and career choices by ‘gut feel’, but gut feel or intuition is our unconscious processing and is tainted by bias. Self-leaders train their gut feel by being aware of bias, paying attention the results of their choices and not being afraid to make new choices if required.