How has a tiny choice changed your life?
In a typical day, we make over 200 choices which add up to over 10,000 choices a year. You may have put many of those choices on automatic pilot but they are choices that you could change if you wanted to. And each of those forks in the road has the potential to alter the course of your life.
At first, that might seem like an absurd thing to say. Until you really start thinking about it. Take some of the most basic things you do in the morning. First, you have a choice whether to get up or stay in bed. Now, staying in bed has consequence which is why you normally get out of bed whether you want to or not. But supposing you actually spent 10 minutes one morning pondering this before you got up. Now you are 10 minutes behind schedule. Let’s imagine that even with rushing you still are late for everything that day.
What affect could being 10 minutes late for everything have? You’d be on the road to your work or taking the kids to school 10 minutes later than normal. Maybe by doing so you missed an accident you would have been involved in otherwise. Or you discovered an opportunity you would have missed. Or you connected with an old friend you hadn’t seen in years. The list of possible changes is endless.
Take the same “what if” approach toward changing the order of your morning routine, forgetting to brush your teeth, changing what you eat in the morning or letting your kids go to school in mismatched clothes because your late. Each of these forks in the road blossoms into hundreds of new possibilities that didn’t exist if you had stayed on your auto pilot routine. And we’ve only talked about the first 90 minutes in the morning so far. Oh my.
Just imagine what might happen if you made different choices about ordinary things that occur throughout your day. Alter one task, shift when you do things by as little as a minute or say something to someone you know you’ve never said before and you may have started an avalanche of events that could touch your life for weeks, months or years.
When we think about our choices, we tend to focus on the obvious ones. Those things we actually took the time to seriously think out or something critical we had to respond to in the moment. Of course, those are choices too. And those choices can dramatically affect our little world.
Yet, a series of tiny choices often leads us down a path we had not intended or considered. Taken as a whole, those 50, 100 or more micro choices can actually produce one gigantic choice for us. Sometimes we don’t see where this is all taking us. Sometimes we can look back and feel that events outside of our control put us in this place. Or, perhaps, something unseen, deep inside of us or beyond us, led us to take longer than normal brushing our teeth that morning. Like a pebble thrown into a pond, these mirco choices can ripple out shaping major directions for our life and those around us.
When you ponder what affects the choices you make or how you could improve those choices in the future, look behind your logical and analytical decision making methods. Ask yourself if something is happening in your subconscious mind or from sources outside of yourself that might be guiding some of your choices. At the same time, reflect on situations where you have resisted these forces and what happened as a result.
Every year we face over 10,000 forks in the road. Whether through conscious choice or automatic conditioning, each of those choices shapes our future. And each of those choices is a story waiting to be told.