Some 12 years ago a business coach Mike Pegg introduced me to a very powerful concept of "choices and consequences". This concept has become my mantra and has led me ever since guiding my choice to leave London, start working with startups, join WSA, take a job at a bank, and finally start No Pants Office. The "Choices and consequences" mantra empowers and enables to me take responsibility and own the results that are my life today.
Every choice comes with consequences and when you think about it - everything around us is either a choice or a consequence of a past choice.
Today is a sum result of your past decisions
To perform absolutely the best, to connect, to show up eager, motivated, and implement the change or to float by, to stay away, unmotivated, overwhelmed, and let others make choices - this is a choice we make every day and every day we live with the consequences of this choice.
Your current life is a sum result of all the decisions you've made up to this point, whether good or bad. Let that sink in for a second.
Your personal trainer has no say in whether you like or despise exercising. Your boss has nothing to do with you choosing your job. And no one can tell you how motivated you show up every day. The choice is yours. And only you have the power to change your today that will happen in a week, month, year, and ten years.
Your future starts every day! How does this sound? Do you feel empowered, scared, regretful, happy? If you’re looking to grow and improve this should motivate and excite you. But at the same time, it’s super important to start making better choices.
How to start making better choices
Making good decisions is becoming increasingly difficult due to the constant and ever-increasing noise all around us. From the picture-perfect Instagram lives, videos of all the products that someone wants us to buy, to media that has learned the marketing tricks to grab our attention - the amount of information around us is unprecedented. It feels like the days go by much quicker and the speed of life is accelerating. The pressure to achieve picture-perfect success is actually making it more difficult to reconnect with our own inner voices that used to guide our decision-making. No wonder making good choices is becoming increasingly difficult. Below we look at 6 ways that can help you start making better choices.
Accept the consequences
You’re late for a meeting and missed an important part of it? You chose to be somewhere else or to not prepare the night before. You’re working day and night and miss all your friends’ birthdays? It’s your choice to prioritize your work over your personal life. You choose salad over pizza for dinner? You choose your weight and how you feel in the morning.
Once you realize that every choice comes with consequences and start living by this mantra, you will start making different choices.
Accepting the consequence when making the choice will prepare you for it, and because you were prepared, it will be much easier to live with it.
Choose to make fewer choices
Not all choices are equal and it’s best to choose to save mental capacity for important choices. In addition to hundreds of substitutes for bread and butter in a supermarket, we also have digital platforms using powerful algorithms to steal our attention and influence our decisions. It’s a lot! Especially for our 2 million-year-old brain that didn’t have enough time to adjust to this new reality of information overflow. Every single decision from which video to view, which ad to click on, and how to solve this business problem is using the same mental energy that is limited by our brain capacity to operate at a steady level throughout the day. Therefore, if we want to make better decisions, we must limit our choices where possible.
Why do you think Barack Obama’s wardrobe is filled with the same color suits and Mark Zuckerberg is wearing seemingly the same t-shirt? They know how to protect their mental capacity for important decisions. And this practice is not exclusive to wealthy presidents. Eliminating unimportant choices will leave you with more willpower and better judgment when making important choices at no extra cost. Quite contrary, making fewer impulse decisions can save or make tons of money.
What is an unimportant decision? Ask yourself - "does this have any impact on my life in a week?". If the answer is no, that's an unimportant choice.
Eliminating choices is not the same as avoiding them
Yes, choosing is difficult. Yet, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from making choice. Sometimes we try to avoid choices at all costs because we fear the responsibility of the consequences. Yet hiding from responsibility and not making choices means that somebody else is in charge.
Not making choices is a choice that comes with its own consequences.
The consequence is that you live by somebody else’s rules. Sure it might seem easier. But you have no say in the direction the events of your life are taking and you have no right to blame others for your misery, failures, and inaction. It’s your choice not to choose, so it’s your consequence that somebody else is in charge of your life. And so choosing not to choose is the worst choice.
Stop blaming others
It's easy to blame others - government, boss, parents, society, you name it. But where did this mentality got you to date? Is it working? Does it help to earn more, get better jobs, connect with prosperous people? Yes, perhaps it was your colleague’s fault that your team failed that project, but did you offer a different opinion? Did you raise your hand and stood up to your opinion, fight your arguments, and tried to change the situation? If you didn’t, you can’t blame anyone else. It was your choice to go with a flow and so now the consequences are yours too.
Playing a victim of the choices of others is always an option. But the only good it will do to you - give you something to complain about to other people who are used to blaming others and not taking responsibility.
We’ve posted a separate blog post about gut feeling and trusting your intuition, you can find it here.
The reality is that your gut feeling or intuition appears before the always judging and "protecting" lizard brain voice. So when unsure, ask yourself - what was my first feeling/idea in this situation and what is the outcome of all the considerations. How do you feel about each? The idea that popped up 2 seconds after facing a situation is usually what’s best for you because it comes from your subconscious mind. Everything afterward is considerations and judgments that in most cases lead to choosing something others influence us to choose.
Start trusting your intuition and you will start making better choices. And there is no magic about the almighty internal wizard. The simple explanation is that when you listen to your own intuition, you are all in on that decision. Because it comes from within you will be 10x more motivated, more eager, and more persistent to make it a reality. Simple as that.
There are no bad choices
Everybody makes poor decisions once in a while. There are no Mister Perfects that make no mistakes. The only difference between those who seem like Mister Perfects and those who don’t is the handling of the consequences and ability to embrace failure. What matters more than making a poor life decision is how you handle it afterward - if you regret it, beat yourself over it and can’t move on versus finding ways to fix it, making the most of it, learning, and doing it better the next time around. And actually, fixing the consequences of bad choices or failures can produce way better results when you could have expected. Only to reap the rewards you have to be there to try to fix it and make the most of it.
Every experience is a learning experience if you choose it to be.
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We practice making better choices across various Guides and Challenges along with other topics like embracing failure, taking responsibility, embracing change, trusting your instincts as well as building morning and evening routines, getting into reading or exercising. Check hem out here.