Conscious Choices

May 22, 2012 by Rose Cook

It’s Monday morning and you’ve accepted three meeting requests, told a co-worker you’d be the team lead for a new project, volunteered to bake cupcakes for your daughter’s class party and agreed to drive your son’s cub scout pack to mini-golf.  And it’s not even noon yet.  One question…have you lost your mind?  One of the topics Lynn and I have been focusing on lately is making “conscious choices” and the concept that we have the power to choose our path.  Every minute of every day we have choices to make, some as small as whether to hit the snooze button one more time, some as large as quitting an unsatisfying career and going back to school.  

It’s not very hard to get caught up in trying to “do it all” and “be it all”.  The perfect spouse, the perfect parent and the perfect career professional.  Who are we kidding?  Nobody is perfect and doing everything for everyone is not only exhausting, it’s impossible.  By nature I think many of us are people-pleasers.  We’re the one that everyone expects will volunteer to coach the little league team, run the Spring carnival, lead the next project or host the holiday family gatherings.  Once the precedent is set, it’s way too easy for everyone else to let it fall on your shoulders and way too hard for you to say no.  How did this happen?  Oh yeah, you raised your hand to volunteer. It’s like your hand has a mind of its own, even when your brain is saying, “Stop, I don’t have time to bake six dozen cookies for the PTA and cook Thanksgiving dinner for thirty people while traveling to Dallas for a board meeting regarding the big merger.”  And there goes your hand in the air anyway!

Our minds go a mile a minute trying to keep up with all the demands in our day.  Here’s a thought, stop for just a minute.  STOP.  Think about the choices you have made today alone.  Are you choosing wisely?  Are you choosing due to some sense of obligation?  Are you choosing simply out of guilt – maybe that no one else will step up, or that others will think negatively of you? Are the choices you’ve made today really the best ones for you, your family or your career?  Here are a few thoughts regarding changing your mindset in the way you make decisions..

Saying “yes” to one thing most likely comes at the cost of saying “no” to something else that may be of greater importance to you.  Be careful of too many obligations that end up taking away from your other business and personal priorities.  Ask yourself, “Do I really need or want to be here?”

The power of saying “no” is a wonderful gift that we all possess and it’s perfectly acceptable to exercise that right whenever necessary, with NO guilt and NO regret. Wouldn’t it be nice to say “yes” to something you want to do and “no” to something you would prefer not to do for a change?  “Yes, I’m going to play tennis in the park.  No, I’m not spending Saturday doing the payroll report for a co-worker.”

Stress often comes from situations where you feel you have no choice.  While you may not have control over a given situation, you have total control over how you react to it.  In cases of feeling like your hands are tied, make a choice that at least makes you feel like you have some level of control.  “Yes I have to attend the status meeting, but first I’m going to grab a cup of coffee.”  It sounds so simple, but yet you’re making a choice that works for you while still accommodating the situation in which you have no control.

Making choices consciously can be as simple as what you eat or wear to complicated choices such as a career change or buying a home.  If you break it all down, most choices really are within your control.  It’s how you exercise all that power that can make the difference in how you get through each day. Isn’t it time for a shift in power? Choose it!

-Rose Cook, FlexPro CEO


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