By Ria Story
“The history of a free man is never written by chance but by choice – their choice.”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Our choices yesterday have defined our today. Our decisions today will define our tomorrow. Success depends not on our circumstances, but our choices. The choices we make today will determine our success tomorrow, next week, and even ten years from now. Our choices determine where we go, and when we go.
Big decisions like a career choice or whether or not to get married are essential. It’s easy to see how those choices will affect us. But, it’s just as important to make the right little choices every day. Often, the small decisions we make daily don’t seem to make a difference.
That’s the problem – it’s often not a glamorous or important choice that defines us. It’s usually those small daily decisions.
Little choices, like what books we read, how we spend our free time, or whom we spend our time with, don’t seem like much at the moment. Add them up, and you will see how those little choices compound over time. We make hundreds or thousands of decisions each day and can’t always see how they will impact our future. But they can be significant, even if we can’t see it at the time.
Years ago, I decided I wanted to run a marathon. 26.2 miles sounded like a goal worth achieving, and I wanted that bumper sticker on my car! When I chose to sign up for the marathon, it was a big decision. Choosing to call me a real runner was a defining moment. That choice didn’t accomplish anything beyond costing me a $90.00 registration fee to get a significant number. I had to do something before I would achieve something. I had actually to train to reach my goal.
It took months of training and dedication. Little choices every day about what to eat for lunch, how much water to drink, how far, and how often to run. If I should cross-train, and if I should continue to teach my group-fitness classes. I had to decide how to fit all that into my schedule while working two jobs and pursuing an MBA.
Those little decisions every day were much harder because it didn’t feel like they mattered at the time. However, all those positive choices added up over several months. I was able to finish the marathon and proudly claim my “26.2” T-shirt and bumper sticker.
Our behavior is a product of our conscious choices based on our values. When we make decisions and choices based on our values, we know we are working towards success in our lives.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” You are who you are today because of choices you made in the past. But who you become tomorrow is based on the choices you make today. What you choose to spend your time, money, energy, and resources on demonstrates what is important to you. Choose wisely.
You can spend your time any way you want to, but you can only spend it once. Too often, we don’t consider how valuable our time is. Our time is one of the things that should be most protected.
Anything or anyone that is not helping you move forward in the direction you want to go should be considered toxic. These things or people may not necessarily be wrong, but they are still toxic to you and your future if they don´t match with your values.
Eliminate the toxic influences from your life. End terrible relationships, remove dangerous temptations. Those are often difficult choices to make, but they determine the results you get in life. Bad decisions lead to adverse consequences — good choices to good ones.
Our values determine our choices. If you value running a marathon, you are going to choose to spend your free time on Saturday morning running instead of sleeping in and having brunch. Once you have determined what you truly value, it’s merely a matter of intentionally choosing how those values will be lived out in your daily life.
We often preach something like this to our children as we tell them who they should or shouldn’t hang out with or who their friends should or shouldn’t be. The friends your teenager is spending time with will influence and sometimes determine his/her future. If they are choosing to spend time with friends who are into drugs, the odds are pretty good, that environment will influence them.
But we don’t always apply this principle in our own lives:
What choices are you making related to spending time with your family?
What choices are you making related to your health? Your eating? Your sleeping?
What choices are you making related to your future?
What choices are you making related to how you spend your spare time?
What choices are you avoiding?
What choices do you need to change? Why?