One of the characteristics that distinguish human beings from the plant kingdom and other animals is our freedom to make choices. For example, a tree does not choose how much it wants to learn or how much it wants to eat. Nor can dogs make a choice of which career path to take, or who they would like to marry or spend their life with. For better or worse, we humans possess specific powers of choice and in this week’s lesson we’ll delve into this topic.
The powerful freedom of choice that is bestowed upon us should be recognized and respected as an honor and a privilege to behold. Human beings possess free will and consciousness. A pebble, a sheet of glass, and the stars in the sky cannot choose their courses; their behavior is determined for them by Nature.
Every single choice that we make in life COUNTS. The choices that we make today will have an impact on exactly where we will be in life tomorrow, next year and in a decade. Every single choice that we make also comes at a COST. For example, if you choose to play the piano for 30 minutes, it will COST you 30 minutes of your SCARCE and PRECIOUS time to play. Our choices also carry with them what is called an “opportunity cost.” An opportunity cost is anything that you would have done if you didn’t choose to play the piano (e.g., talking on the phone, sleeping, etc.) Only you can determine what activity has the most benefits for the amount of time invested.
So every choice that you make in your life demands payment (up front) of your time and your opportunity costs. Since you are in charge of the choices that you make, it logically follows that you are also RESPONSIBLE for their results. How could it be any other way? Nature made YOU the boss of yourself. It’s both immature as well as irresponsible to BLAME someone else for the choices you make. You are the totally responsible for YOUR choices.
Since we are free to choose, it also means that we are free to make mistakes. So naturally, people will make them. Let’s look at a few:
Most of the choices that are made are those that are only concerned with the short-term consequences. One example is when we eat junk food that is tasty but high in fat or cholesterol, we are not considering the long-term consequences of that choice. We are just satisfying our short-term desires. Since every choice counts, if we eat junk food too often, we will pay the price with poor health in the future. Another example might be the teenager who decides to have too many beers at a party and makes the choice to drive home. A fatal accident occurs, and that simple choice turns into a huge tragedy for so many people to bear.
To ONLY make choices with the short-term in mind is everyone’s right. But it often comes with a large long-term price tag. The higher you climb up the economic ladder the more you start to notice that people of wealth think in terms of years and decades, rather than in terms of hours and days. They always have the long-term in mind when dealing in the present moment.
Another mistake that people continually make is the DENIAL of responsibility for their choices. As the first few paragraphs of this article demonstrate, this responsibility cannot be avoided. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying. The attempt to deny responsibility leads to two constituencies: 1) Those who try to TRANSFER responsibility to someone else, and 2) Those that try to TAKE responsibility for someone else.
This process has a 100% failure rate. Yet, even with those odds, it remains a popular choice. Do you think that the terms “King” or “Queen” would even exist if everyone accepted that they were responsible for their own choices? No; they would be meaningless sounds.
In modern times, the terms “King” and “Queen” have been largely replaced with different titles, but the process hasn’t changed a bit. One group tries to TRANSFER something that is non-transferable, while the other tries to TAKE what cannot be taken.
Save yourself time and energy by avoiding the above mistakes. Think LONG-TERM, while acting in the present moment, and ACCEPT that you are the boss of your own life (and no one else’s). It's not too late to start making better choices today, so that you will be EXACTLY where you want to be in the future.