The business world is fantastic. It's also challenging. Over the course of your career, you'll face ethical, cultural, political, and personal dilemmas in the workplace. You'll work with difficult people. You'll find yourself in compromising situations. You'll have to balance who you are as an individual with what your employer asks of you.
Can you stay true to who you are without sacrificing your success? Absolutely YES.
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Power of Choice

Use Wisely
The Power Of Choice

Everything you do or say is a choice.
Even the things you don't do or say are choices.
"Use wisely the power of choice." (Og Mandino)

We're faced with so many choices in the workplace every day. Some choices are obvious. We're asked to choose between Option A and Option B. Other choices are less obvious. For example, in every conversation, we "choose" what to say. We choose who to associate with, and in what manner. We choose to laugh at certain things, and show disdain for others. We demonstrate certain characteristics, associated with our in-office "persona," each one coloring our choices and how we're perceived by others.

It may be good that we're not conscious of every choice we make in a given day; we may lose our minds trying to keep up. Here's the flip side: Every choice you make, says something about you. Every choice you don't make - also says something about you. The more conscious you are in understanding the power of your choices, the more judicious you are in making your choices. 

To be satisfied and successful at work, you need to make good choices. It really is that simple. I'm not talking about what someone else deems to be good choices. I'm talking about choices that align to who you are and the kind of life you want to live. Good choices for you.
How do you "use wisely the power of choice" in your life and in your work?

The Power Of Choice

The "power of choice" concept stems from the significant impact your choices have on your life. Whether you're making a critical business decision or making a personal choice of some kind, the principle remains the same. You can't always control the things that happen around you, or "to" you, but you have 100% control over how you react and engage. 

Before you assume that you're about to get some hippy-dippy, new-age advice, think again. I'm not here to tell you to be kind to others and watch your problems float away on butterfly wings. This is about straight-up practicality:  If you want to live the life you imagine for yourself, have the career you've always dreamed of, and in the broader sense get what you want, you need to be conscious of the choices you make. You need to use wisely the power of choice.  

Here are a few concepts that may help you make good choices.

1.  Know yourself. Be yourself.

It's so easy to be influenced by others in our lives. Both positive and negative influences come from our friends, family and colleagues. They tell us in so many words what to say, what to do, how to behave, or which life choices will serve us well. Before you can make wise choices in your life, you need to know what matters to you.

What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of life do you want to live? What makes you happy? What do you want to contribute? How do you want to be perceived? Listen to what others have to say. But tune into your own dreams and instincts about what you really want. Live your life using your own preferences to guide your choices. Spend time on this and you're much more likely to make good choices.

2.  Trust your instincts, but temper your emotions.

People always say to trust your instincts. I'm a big fan of the concept and use my instincts to guide many of my choices. I still get it wrong sometimes. The trick here is to temper, or keep in check, your emotions. It's easy to confuse emotion with instinct. Just because you're having the best time of your life visiting a friend in the Bahamas, doesn't mean you should pack up and move there, so you can feel that way all the time. When something is new and exciting and tugs at your heart, it doesn't necessarily mean it warrants more of your time, money or energy. 

A great way to focus on instinct vs. emotion is to ask yourself, "Does this choice feel right to me, even though the facts suggest it may not be?" and "Do I have any hesitation whatsoever about making this choice?" If you answer "No." or "I'm not sure." to the first question and/or "Yes." to the second question, you're likely feeling emotion vs. an instinctive lean toward the choice. Ask yourself, "Why?" as many times as it takes to get more clarity. Some of the other concepts in this article may help if you're conflicted here.

3. Understand options, implications, and consequences.

It's impossible to make a wise choice if you don't consider all of your best options. Sometimes you're presented with specific options. Know that in most cases there is another potentially great option, that will only surface by challenging yourself to find it. When faced with good options, think, "You know what would be even better?" When faced with less stellar options, try to find a better option. Be creative. "I can't live with Option A or B. But Option C works for me." Don't make a choice until you feel you've explored all of your best potential options.

Whenever possible, also challenge yourself to think about the implications or consequences of a decision. What will happen if you choose to do, or not do, something? Think through the value of your choice to you and others. Consider the consequence if all goes according to plan, but also if things go terribly awry. What's the best outcome? What's the worst outcome? Can you live with the implications? You'll make a better decision with this in mind.

4.  Stay attuned to your ever-changing priorities.

At any point in time, you focus on a finite set of priorities. It makes perfect sense. It's the only way you can make progress on things that matter to you. The thing is, your priorities change over time. If you make a choice for your life based on what was important to you yesterday, or last week, or last year... you may very well make the wrong choice.

Stay connected to what matters to you now. It's okay if priorities change over time. It's expected. As long as you know what your priorities are now, and take the time to consider them when making choices, you'll make better choices. You'll move toward your current priorities, and away from the priorities of the past, or the priorities of others.

5.  Hold tight to perspective.

Have you ever made a decision only to look back later and think, "What was I thinking?!?" I have. Sometimes it's helpful to force yourself to have a fresh perspective when you're faced with a choice. That may come from thinking about someone you admire, and asking yourself what advice they would offer. You may also want to challenge yourself to consider "What's right about this choice?" and "What's wrong about this choice?"

Playing the role of devil's advocate can serve you well by forcing you to justify why you want to make a certain choice. If you can't justify it, even in your own mind, it may be the wrong choice. Once you think you have perspective and you're ready to make a choice, ask yourself, "Why is this the right choice for me?" If you like the answer, you can feel much more comfortable moving forward. Just keep it real and don't tell yourself stories.

6. Understand the power of intention.

You may or may not believe philosophically that the intention behind your choices impacts the success that follows. I won't challenge you to think one way or the other for the purposes of this article. Let your intentions fall where they may - good, bad or somewhere in between. I'm simply encouraging you to be clear on your intentions when making a choice.

If you want to make a wise choice, you need to think not only about what you want but why you want it. If you make a choice without a clear understanding of your own motivation and intention, you'll likely make the wrong choice. There's a lot of insight to be gained in the "why" behind your choices. Why are you making the choice in the first place? What do you want the outcome to be? Who do you want to be impacted by your choice, and in what way? Answer these questions and you're more likely to make a wise choice, based on what you want and why you want it. PS: No one else has to agree.

7.  Act with confidence.

Often, our choices are only as smart and successful as the confidence we bring to the process. If you make a choice, be bold and act with confidence. Commit to the choice and do your best to create forward momentum. Being tentative - rarely serves anyone well. Even the best of choices are marginalized by tentative pursuit. Make a choice and chase it. If you find that you can't feel confident before, during or after a choice... you probably need to make a different choice.

8.  Adapt and change. (Don't be dumb.)

Sometimes, you make the wrong choice. You did the best you could with what you knew at the time. You may learn something new, change your mind, or realize you made a mistake for some other reason. People often hold onto bad choices. This serves no purpose. Don't hesitate to change your mind once you identify the need to make a different choice. Simply choose again. Think through the implications of making the change, manage the process as best you can, and change it up.

Share whatever information makes sense to share with others. But don't feel the need to justify a change of heart to others. If you're tuned into what you really want, and you're not making a change based on fear, uncertainty or doubt, trust your instincts and make the change. The implications of changing your mind are often far more tolerable than the implications of following through on a bad choice. When in doubt, don't walk down the aisle...even if the honeymoon is paid for.

Bottom Line

Sometimes the choices we make in our lives seem inconsequential. Other times, our choices seem enormously important. I believe that every choice builds upon another over the arc of your lifetime. This makes them all fairly important. Dr. Wayne Dyer stated once that "Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made." I couldn't agree more. What you say, how you behave, and how you treat others, is just as much a part of your life as what you do, what you contribute, and what you achieve.

We've all allowed the preferences of our friends, families, and colleagues to influence our choices. Making your own choices, and doing so consciously based on what you want, is the golden ticket to a more satisfied life. Period.

When you're committed to making good choices for yourself, you become powerful. When you take that power and use it to make conscious choices, you become wise. When you become wise, you are much more likely to find satisfaction and success on your own terms. It's a discipline like any other. Once mastered, it pays dividends.

I'll leave you with a few thoughts from others, about the power of conscious choice and the impact it has on your life.
"Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself."  R Bennett
"It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities."  JK Rowling
"Every choice moves us closer to, or farther away, from something. Where are your choices taking you in your life? What do your behaviors suggest you are saying yes or no to in life?"  Dr. Eric Allenbaugh
"Until a person can say deeply and honestly, 'I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,' that person cannot say 'I choose otherwise.'"  Stephen Covey, (Stephen Covey was an incredibly inspiring man, who touched millions of lives. Rest in peace. 1932-2012) 
Your choices tell the story of your life. Commit yourself to making good choices. And remember that the only one who can decide what will be a good choice for you... is you.

More soon,