Last week I shared with you how my three life vectors came about. Today, I want to share with you my first vector, choice.
“I choose” are two of the most powerful words I repeat to myself several times a day. I love these 7 letters because they give me a sense of control.
I know, intellectually, of course, that this is an illusion. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is how reframing my obligations into choices makes me feel, and hence how it makes me act.
My dream was to go to Harvard for college. I didn’t get in from high school. But I didn’t abandon that dream. I could have said “Yale is good enough.” Instead, I chose to keep trying for Harvard. And this is where choice, willpower and discipline intersect. I worked so hard freshman year, got straight As, and applied to Harvard as a transfer student. I remember my transfer application essay like it was yesterday. I explained to Admissions that I continued to believe that Harvard was the right place for me—that I had chosen it 9 years ago, and that my resolve had not been dampened by the initial rejection, quite the contrary. I got accepted, and transferred sophomore year.
The concept of choice is relevant to the most mundane everyday decisions and actions, not only to the big potentially life-altering decisions. Every day, I make so many choices. I choose how I spend my time, who I spend that time with, and what I work on. I choose what I eat and drink and how many calories I consume. I choose to exercise or not to. I choose to call my family ever Sunday or not to.
Choosing means controlling. Choice is powerful, and choice is hard. It involves self-discipline and willpower. But, the choice is always ours.
Notice that I don’t reframe “I have to” with “I get to” – which people sometimes do. That is because choices can be hard, and sometimes my choices are sad, uncomfortable, challenging. One wouldn’t say “Yay, I get to get divorced.” Yet one would say “I choose to get divorce.” The difference is significant.
Reframing “I have to go to work” with “I choose to go to work” gives me an entirely different perspective on my day. I am in control. No one is forcing me to do anything.
For the next day or so, try watching how many times to you think or say “I have to do xxx”. And try to reframe these obligations into choices, and say “I chose do to xxx.” You’ll be amazed at how that makes you feel.
And next week… let’s discuss my life vector #2: harmony.