From The Publisher

Beverly DenverChoices and Change

Recently, I read an article on the psychology of human behavior. Its author challenged readers to write down all the choices made in any given day — from breakfast to bedtime.

She said, “To change one’s life, one must be mindful of the choices one makes.”

It made sense to me, so I was happy to do it. In fact, I thought it might even be fun.

I chose to track my choices on a Monday, to rise early and hit the ground running. That morning, I jumped out of bed and into the shower. Without thinking, I put on some “publisher” threads and a trendy, new pair of high-heeled shoes.

There was no time to get to the gym. Or, was there? Suddenly, I realized: I had gotten dressed without even considering my need for routine exercise. Another choice made —out of habit — so I made note of it.

For breakfast, I ate a nutritious meal: two eggs, a sausage patty, a little bit of oatmeal and blueberries. The choices were in keeping with the “diet” I’ve been on for some time now. The one, by the way, that has helped me shed many unwanted pounds and inches! Proud of these choices, I wrote them all down. Then, expressing my delight, I added a Smiley Face.

By the time I reached my office – at 9 a.m. – a dozen or more choices were already penned to paper. I decided not to comment on any of these choices, knowing at day’s end there would be plenty of time to review and reflect. Another choice made.

At 10:30 a.m., the phone rang. It was Sally, a long-time friend, calling to see if I could meet her for lunch. She had taken time off from her job, so it was a good day for her. I wanted to see her, but I also wanted to make best use of Monday. Another choice to make, and I was being mindful of it! Thus, I passed on Sally’s invitation; I suggested another day and time to get together, and plans were made. I made note.

During the rest of the day, the opportunities to make choices continued. Many had to do with choosing to be distracted or not.

Example: Should I check and respond to emails as quickly and often as I like or commit to dealing with them only two times per day?

Another example: Should I continue to answer my own phone (as is my habit) or allow my assistant to do that for me?

Another example: Should I address the short-term needs of our business right now or carve out time to focus on its mission and long-term goals?

Many times, I found myself thinking, “Which choices are best? Which ones do I make with intent? Which ones do I make out of habit? Which ones result in positive outcomes? Which ones have negative implications? Which choices call for change?”

Alas, being mindful of all the choices I had to make that day — and writing them all down — was just too much! It was far too distracting! By 3 p.m., I gave up on the exercise and continued my day – as usual. Head down, doing what must be done!

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about that day and my attempt to track my choices. I’ve reviewed and reflected and read between the lines. And, yes, I’ve come to a conclusion.

By focusing on big choices – like eating nutritiously or eliminating unnecessary distractions – the small choices become easy and habitual.

And, only out of habit, can one create change and a whole new normal! 

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