As I’m polishing up the second book in my Get Ahead of Your Time (GAYT) series to get it finalized for pre-order on Amazon, I am struck by one section of it where I talk about the choices we all make and how there is always a choice. I’d like to share that excerpt with you here, as a sort of preview, but also because I believe it’s a concept none of us really wants to hear, and yet is at the basis for everything (good, bad or indifferent) that we’re experiencing right here and right now.
So here’s your sneak peek to some of what I talk about in GAYT Book 2: Evaluate What Is & Isn’t Working:
I am only here to point out to you that if you are at a place where you think you have no choice, that means your insides are trying to get you to make one but you don’t want to. If you are at a place where you’re saying “I can’t,” that means that you can, you’re just not keen on the consequences.
There are a couple of terms for this. One, based on a 1979 novel by William Styron, is called Sophie’s Choice. In that story, a Polish mother in a Nazi concentration camp had to make a choice about which of her sons would live and which would die. You may remember the movie that starred Meryl Streep. Can you imagine having to make a decision like that? I’ll bet that if you’re here, you may be feeling like you’re being confronted with that horrible of a scenario. I’ve often heard this scenario referred to as “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” Either way, one of Sophie’s sons was going to die.
There’s also Hobson’s Choice, which is based on a British man from the early 1600s who rented horses out. If a potential customer didn’t like the next horse available for rent, Thomas Hobson told them you either take that horse in the first stall or you get no horse at all. Do you feel as though you’re being confronted with a choice like that? You either keep the job or you have no job at all? I have faced that and come out on the wrong end of it. May people stay in miserable situations because they figure at least they have “X” (whatever X may be).
Then there is what I like to call the Castaway’s Choice. If you are stranded on a tiny island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, and the island has no vegetation – which means no food or shade on land – and you have no freshwater to drink, then unless someone happens to come near enough to the island to see a person stranded there, you’re going to die. Whether of exposure to the equatorial Sun reflecting off the neverending water or of thirst, even if you manage to catch and eat sea life, you still cannot survive without non-saltwater. (Unless you happen to have on you a portable desalinization still like this one.)
The castaway has to decide, is he willing to suffer through the effects of sun exposure and dehydration in the hopes he’ll be rescued, only to die slowly and miserably – and be perfectly aware he is dying – in the meantime? Or does he purposely off himself so he doesn’t have to suffer but just gets it over with? No matter which choice he makes, assuming no miraculous rescue, he will die. The difference lies in how he gets to death and how long he suffers before he reaches that destination.
You see, not all choices are between a good thing and a bad thing. It’s easy to decide to wear shorts when it’s hot and pants when it’s cold. It’s easy to choose to take a drink of water when you’re thirsty or not to take a drink when you’re not. It’s easy to choose to sleep when you’re tired versus choosing to stay awake when you’re not tired.
It’s not easy to choose to leave a situation you seem stuck or mired in, when the consequences may seem worse than the current situation is. It’s not easy to make most of the choices we have to make in our lives – especially the big ones – and the one thing I don’t want you to do is chastise yourself for choices you now know were not the best ones for you.
So if you’re here, reading this book right now, it means some part of you wants to acknowledge that some choice you made at some point – even if it was to be born into the family you were born into – has resulted in where you are now. You can choose to do what your parents tell you to in order to keep your inheritance or you can choose to break away and make your own fortune so you’re not beholden to their wishes. You can choose to train for a new career while you keep the paycheck and benefits from your current one that you wish you weren’t in. You can smile and do what your boss tells you while you look for a new job. You can eat the cheesecake you know will mess with your blood sugar or you can choose to decline so you don’t bottom out an hour later and gain weight on top of it all.
I was training for a 5k when a careless bus driver resulted in my big toe being severely broken. I couldn’t run anymore, but instead of doing what I could – keeping my healthy lifestyle and simply modifying my exercise to disinclude anything requiring my toe to bend – I chose to be ‘all or nothing.’ If I can’t do All The Things, then I’ll do Nothing At All. Well, guess what? In less than a year, I gained more than 100 pounds. Yes, you read that right. Who’s to blame for that? The bus driver who pulled away from the curb too fast and threw me backwards, which jammed my toe into the metal step near the back of the bus? No. He didn’t make me eat the wrong foods or stop any and all kinds of exercise. I did that. It’s all on me. All of it. Period.