When I was a kid my father would often look me in the eye and say, “Life is all about choices, Dan.” in very matter of fact way, and usually after I did something that wasn’t so glamorous.
Around the same time that choosing my life was being driven into my psyche, my mom would often ask what I wanted to do when I grew up. I confidently responded that I would live and relax on my own island, and enjoy life to the fullest.
She followed up with, “That’s sounds nice honey.” But being the engineer that she is, she always retorted, “How will you survive?”
Ah, good question Mother.
So I’d sit down, write out my life plan. I’d explore the open seas until I found my unclaimed island (the most difficult part of the plan), then I’d invite all my friends and family so I wouldn’t be lonely, and we’d survive off the coconuts. Brilliant!
As time went on, I found out that I get too seasick to explore the open water, none of my friends and family members want to live off of coconuts, and I enjoy the pleasantries of toilet paper and toothbrushes far too much to live in the wild.
My mom taught me that it’s fine to choose how you want to live, but you are responsible for those choices. You can’t point the finger when you’re forced to wipe with leaves on your private island.
I do wholeheartedly believe that life is about choices. I believe you can create the exact life you want. My favorite quote of all time is “Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”
So because I believe that, I also believe that if you look around at your current circumstances, you are the creator of those circumstances. You can’t point the finger at others or events.
(**Note: I understand that there are economic and political barriers that individuals face that are outside the scope of this blog. But for a heavy majority of my readership this is not the case. Your life is an accumulation of your choices**)
There are three choices that we face everyday that impact the quality of our lives.
How do you spend your time?
I am constantly asking myself this question. What are you doing right now? Are you reading a book or binge watching friends? Am I eating the largest tub of popcorn at the movie theatre (and making it a XXL combo for only fifty cents more), or going on a walk with my audio books? Am I writing a blog, or consuming a bunch of crap on Facebook? Am I spending time with people who really aren’t all that interesting or making an effort to go see my friends and family I really care about?
There are 86,400 seconds in a day. How you use those seconds is up to you. My brother has a coffee cup that reads, “you have the same amount of time in a day as Beyoncé.”
And frankly, that chick gets shit done.
How will you respond to circumstances and events?
In 2011, I was a student at Oklahoma State University, and I owed $2,000 and 24-hours of service to the Payne County Courthouse. I worked at the school cafeteria for $7.25 per hour before taxes. My game with girls had gone cold since getting dumped by my high school girlfriend earlier that year. I was physically soft. And I was happy to point the finger at my circumstances. Why me, blah, blah, blah. Everyone else is doing the same things, but all this crap keeps happening to me. Yeah, I was a pansy. But I’m a changed man now so leave me alone.
It’s easy to point the finger, but all those events where a result of choices that I made in my life prior to that point. I probably should have had more self-respect and dumped the high school girl a year prior. I could have taken initiative and gotten a better job, and I could have been smarter about my college shenanigans.
Shit happens in life that is outside of our control, but you always have a choice of how to respond. Perspective is always a choice.
How will you be remembered?
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
This is why one of my daily goals is to make somebody’s day. Being a 50 rank in Halo is cool. Breaking somebody’s ankles in basketball is fun. But you’ll never be remembered for being a video game extraordinaire, or a street basketball king (unless you’re Skip 2 my Lou, but even he made you feel something when you watched).
Choose to do something of significance in this world. Choose to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, create, or produce. Leave your mark on the world no matter how small it may be.
I truly believe that you can create the life you want. You just have to choose that life, and the start in that direction. Like Will Smith says, “There’s a redemptive power that making a choice has rather than feeling that you are at effect of all of the things that are happening. Make a choice, like, just decide. Decide what you’re going to be, who you’re going to be, how you’re going to do it. Just decide.”