Why you're making bad choices and how to stop it
“I keep making the wrong choice and I don't know how to stop it", or "At the minute, I’ve no choice. I just have to put up with how things are right now.” Have you ever heard yourself saying or thinking something like this about your life? Do you feel stuck? That you can’t see what other option there is to a better life or you just can't seem to make the right choice for that better life? Maybe it’s a better job or a better work/life balance or better health and fitness you want, but you feel there’s no choice of that better life for you right now? Well, if you do ever think that, let me tell you – you’re wrong! As a Career & Personal Development Coach I always tell my clients that they do have choice in every decision they make. It’s just about making the right one that serves them. In fact, we make choices, hundreds of times, every single day. Most of the time, we’re not aware of it, because we’re not thinking about these choices consciously. Our unconscious brain is doing our thinking for us. We’re on autopilot, acting on impulse, making choices that we’re used to - the habits we’ve formed. From the small things like choosing to look at social media on our phone before getting out of bed in the morning or not, to deciding what to wear that day, or big things like deciding to confront someone who’s annoyed us at work – all of our actions start with making a choice.
It was only this week when I was dealing with my 2-year-old toddler, who’s partial to a tantrum or 10, when he doesn’t get his way. I was implementing the parenting strategy of giving him two choices. The one I’ve been saying a lot this week is, “your choices are, be kind to your sister and stop hitting her, or go on the naughty step, which one do you want?” The cheeky monkey likes to choose the naughty step annoyingly, but he’s starting to learn that he has choices in life and with every choice he makes, there’s a consequence.
So what’s the key to making better choices to get us to where we want to be?
Be present and mindful – when you haven’t tried to do this before, it can be tricky to intercept our unconscious making our choices for us. But like everything, it just takes practice. The key is to be mindful about all our actions, and before we make a decision or take action, we need to take a little longer and ask ourselves, ‘will this choice serve me, and lead me to the life that I want to live?’ So if you’re wanting to implement a better sleep routine, ask yourself before having that 8 o’clock glass or two of wine if that action is serving you. You could say to yourself, "would someone with a good sleep routine do this?" If the answer is no, make the better choice.
Consider how making this choice in the past has served you – when we’re asking ourselves if this is the right choice to make, our brain will generally think about the instant gratification it may bring – which is usually the wrong choice if we want to change our habits. It’s more difficult for our brain to see that making a different choice will be better for delayed, long term gratification – like choosing whether to eat the slice of cake or not if you’re wanting to lose weight, for example. This is where we have to dig deep and try our best to override our usual way of thinking and acting and instead of making the decision we usually do, give the other choice a go for once and see what happens. If you can build up making the ‘right’ choice to all the small actions you take, you’ll start creating the life you want to live in no time.
If you find that you’re making bad decisions or choices that aren’t leading you to living the life or career you want to, give me a call for a complimentary 30 minute chat to discuss how working with a Coach like me could help.