As a professional life coach, I’m privileged to have some very successful career women as clients. I’ve discovered that many of them face challenges quite different than those encountered by men. For example, consider the deep feelings of guilt many working mothers experience. They feel as if they are being split in half and would gladly sacrifice a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes for more hours in the day. There is confusion between making a decision and making a choice. Many of these educated women suffer from the consequences of their choices and struggle with making better choices they can live with and feel good about.
Humbly speaking, I believe a process and a skill set are associated with decision and choice making. In order to recognize the difference--as well as the need to learn or improve upon the skill set--a person must be open to personal growth. Each new client has discovered that something is “off” in that individual’s life, and he/she wants to turn it back on. Often the issues are related to the choices made, which, in turn, have led the client to seek my assistance.
Oftentimes the two words (decision and choice) are used interchangeably, when, in fact, they have complete and separate meanings. Let’s start with decision, which means “to reach a conclusion or pass judgment on an issue.” A choice is defined as “a selection from a number of options.” To simplify: you make a decision to have dessert after dinner, and then you choose between ice cream, cake, or pie-- keeping in mind that a moment on the lips is like an inch to the hips. Oh please, I’m a man who loves hips; go with the cake. I do digress.
My helpful guide, “5 Simple Steps to Choosing Your Path,” (sorry, shameless plug) illustrates five simple, but powerfully impactive, steps to making wiser choices. Once applied to our daily lives, these steps have proven quite effective in their simplicity.
1. Think it out: That should be a logical process, but a lot of times in life, we merely react based on experience, the past, emotions, or a myriad of other reasons, without giving much prior thought to making a choice.
2. Willingness to deal with the consequences through ownership: Yes, we have to own our choices. We can’t point fingers of blame at others when things don’t work out and only take credit for the good. We must own all of our choices.
3. Accept responsibility: Whether you like it or not, choices mean responsibility. Now you’re getting into deeper waters. When we step up and claim responsibility, we are indeed stepping up.
4. Be accountable: When you hold yourself accountable, the message is, “This is on me.” And that truly takes strength of character.
5. Be honest: This is admittedly the hardest step for a lot of people. Some of us simply find it too difficult to look into the reflected image of truth, which can hurt. The tendency to develop safety mechanisms, in an attempt to protect one’s heart, can be too great. Unfortunately, not being honest with yourself in your daily choices can only delay the inevitable, as well as make matters worse. Here’s the good news: by practicing the art of honesty, telling the truth becomes easier.
It’s never too late in life to do better, be better, and become better. Take a walk to the water’s edge, and look out. For as far as the eyes can see and beyond, endless possibilities exist, and they all start with your choices. Choices are a birthright that each of us possesses without purchase; they’re absolutely free.