More than the catchy lyrics to an 80s punk song, this age-old question plagues all of us at some point in our lives. It’s all about feeling stuck: stuck in a job, stuck in a relationship, or stuck in situation you didn’t plan for. I hate to break it to you, but you’re the only person who is responsible for this feeling. You always have a choice.
Sound crazy? Stick with me here for a minute. We tend to look at big decisions in black or white. Can I do this or can I not? Stop thinking this way. It’s rarely a single choice. Instead, we must make a series of decisions to actually get to the final outcome we’re looking for. You can’t make any choice—big or small—by staying in the past, in your comfort zone. Choices require you to be forward thinking: thinking about your future, about what’s next, about what you want the outcome to be. How can you make a choice that moves you forward in the direction you want to go?
Quitting my stable job after I had a stroke wasn’t an easy decision by far. Hell, it scared me to death. But I refused to stay in my comfort zone and allow myself to use “I don’t have a choice” as an excuse. I absolutely had a choice, and I made it. It’s why I’m here talking to you today. The scariest moment in your life is the moment you realize you don’t have the opportunity to make any more choices – this could be it for you. From someone who’s experienced this feeling firsthand, let me tell you: don’t wait for that wake-up call like I did.
The next time you’re facing a big decision (or even a small decision that feels big), break it out into steps. What choices do I have to make here? Start with the first choice and move forward to the next, knowing that you’re consciously making each one and will continue on from there, no matter the outcome. Part of making choices is owning up to each one and taking responsibility for the results, good or bad. You alone have the power to change your life, or to decide that you want to stay where you are. But whatever your choices, remember that the only person who can make them is you.
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