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Have you ever believed that your success depended on external factors, and not on the choices you make? I did. I’ve always thought that I was limited by my talents (or lack thereof), my personality, circumstances. And luck, maybe.
Of course, I always heard stories of people living in circumstances far worse than mine and accomplishing amazing things. But they were more talented, right? They were bound to succeed.
Well, I’m starting to realise that it doesn’t work that way. No matter how many success stories you read: it seems that no one knew what was going to happen. These successful people didn’t have any guarantee, and they didn’t necessarily have anybody to guide their way, either.
Making good choices leads to success. It’s as simple as that.
Almost everything in your life is up to you
If any of you have read Stephen R. Covey (I’m obsessed with his theories, I’m sorry!), you will recognize this train of thought.
Basically, what he says is that we keep complaining about how the circumstances keep us from achieving what we want or make our life miserable when we’re actually making the wrong choices.
And I’ve been there. When I worked at my previous job, I was miserable. And I felt like I had no choice but to be miserable. But honestly, that’s not true, and the fact that I was able to turn my life around actually proves that I was really making bad choices all along.
I was miserable because I wasn’t happy at my job. (Actually, funny story: I started working for the same company again when I became a freelancer, and I love it! Doing it from home, and working only when there’s something to be done, has changed my view on this job completely. A 3 months break and a complete change in settings have allowed me to like something that I hated so much!).
So, I was unhappy with my job, but no one forced me to stay there. I could have looked for another job much earlier, but I chose to stick it out to prove to myself that I could do it.
Also, I was unhappy living in Paris, but it was my choice to move there. It was me who persuaded my boyfriend that it was a good idea. I also could have chosen to move away by myself, but I didn’t because I wanted to stay with him.
And our relationship wasn’t going great because I was making choices that I was unhappy with, and part of me blamed my boyfriend for not finding a solution!
In reality, all it took to turn my life around was learning how to make healthier choices for myself.
The only thing that wasn’t my choice, at least I don’t think, was my IBS. That was a circumstance I had to deal with, but everything else was really up to me.
You’re making choices all the time without even realising
My example above is just one single thing that I noticed and analysed lately. But it also made me realise how many choices we actually make, all the time. And we don’t even notice.
I like using examples, so here’s another one:
When I started working as a freelancer, I started coming across people who were pretty disrespectful to me. Like, telling me that my work wasn’t worth anything and they were not prepared to pay more than 2 cents (I’m exaggerating, but you see what I mean).
These people weren’t clients, just potential ones that I never ended up working with. And I knew that they were wrong because other people were happy with my work and prepared to pay decent money.
And yet, I let these people ruin my mood every single time. After each conversation like that, I started questioning things, overthinking… I guess you can imagine.
But here’s the thing I realised: the only person who was actually putting me in a bad mood was me. I was the one who spent time overthinking what random people said to me. I knew better, and I still did it.
As Stephen R. Covey says, no one can affect us unless we let them. I had made the choice to let those people affect me when I could have just as well ignored them.
Since this became clear to me, I started making healthier choices and stopped wasting time on rude comments like that.
Focus on what you can change
We spend so much time focusing on what we would like to change but never can.
Actually, as I was writing this, I was going to use the example of me wanting a smaller nose all my life… and then I realised that I actually chose not to do plastic surgery because it wouldn’t change anything for me, it wasn’t worth it. As I said, we’re making choices, all the time!
So, to use another example that I actually can’t change: IBS. No matter how much I wish that I didn’t have it, that’s just not going to happen. So thinking about that is just a waste of time.
Instead, I need to focus on what I can change: the relationship with loved ones, what I do with my life, and even how I live with my IBS. I could have chosen to let it ruin my life, and I almost did. But I found a way to not let that happen because I refused to accept defeat (that sounds way better than it actually was).
I don’t think I ever used the word “mindful” before on this blog, and that’s because the word never resonated with me enough. But in this case, I truly think that we should live more mindfully.
Being mindful will help you analyse your actions and make better choices in everyday life.
Just for a day or a week, try to notice every single little choice you make. When you eat that cake although you’re trying to lose weight. The night you choose to watch Netflix when you should be doing yoga. When you are being lazy instead of working towards your goals. The moment others judge you and you let it affect you, although you know they’re wrong.
It’s hard in the beginning. I’m only in the beginning, and so I can’t say if it’s going to get easier, but I think so, anyway. Everything can become a habit, right? I mean, I, the least athletic person on earth, with zero self-discipline and terrible flexibility, have been doing yoga every single day for almost 5 months now. If that became a habit and just a natural part of my day, everything can.
If you liked this very Stephen R. Covey-inspired post about making better choices, be sure to share it with your friends!