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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Making Choices: Turmoil or Tranquility?

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Every day we are faced with making choices. It is a big part of our lives, it helps determine who we are, and at times it can be downright maddening. There are choices which we make automatically, without even thinking about them, and there are others that need to be given some serious consideration before we can reach a decision. Some of those choices are simple, they’re about what we eat, what we wear, where we should go, and what products we buy, or whether we should or should not change the television channel. Other choices are more important, where should we live, whom should we marry, which career path should we follow, whether or not we should have surgery, what job do we take, where do we invest our money, which college should we attend, and the list continues. Even teen-ages are constantly faced with difficult choices, such as whether or not they should experiment with drugs, use alcohol, what friends should they hang out with, should they or should they not start smoking, drop out of high school, date, etc.

Being a decisive or indecisive person is a procedure which usually begins when you are young, becoming a permanent feature of your personality that will follow you throughout your academic life, as well as into adulthood. Regretfully, there are many unhappy individuals who are working in unsuitable jobs accepting low wages that make them unhappy.

Why is this? I think it’s because of an indecisive nature that caused them to make the wrong choices that they feel they are stuck with.

Decision making can be, mentally exhausting. People who are uncertain, as the saying goes, “grow grass under their feet.” These people are called procrastinators, which is the opposite of being a decisive, proactive person. Because of their insecurities, they are in constant turmoil. It takes their backs being forced against the wall in order for them to make a decision or choice. They hold out perpetually, looking for even better possibilities, which may never come. In the meantime, they let tremendous opportunities slip by. From easy choices to complex choices, they are dominated by fear. They lack confidence because of a fear of failure or fear of what others may think of them. The longer it takes for them to make up their minds, the longer that person’s fearfulness will command his or her ability to deal with the issue.

This is often a procrastinator’s mantra, “What do I do, I just can’t make up my mind! “I don’t know if I should invest in this business or not!” “I don’t know if I should change jobs or stay where I am?” Their Indecision creates an unstable situation in both mind and body. As long as you are an indecisive person, you’re weak, and will not be able to move at any time with full assurance. No one is ever guaranteed that the path they choose will be safe and secure, but that is what the procrastinator seeks, and it causes them more problems than good.

If and when these individuals do make their choice, they wallow in anxiety as to whether or not it was the right choice. No matter what they choose, they will always find a reason as to why that choice was wrong, subjecting themselves to unnecessary physical and mental pressure, bemoaning what might have been. Regrets such as these dominate the procrastinator’s mind: “I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to marry him. What a bum he turned out to be, I thought he was going to take care of me, but it turned out to be the opposite.” “I hate my job. I knew I should not have taken it. I should have gone to college when I had the chance instead of getting married. Now with three kids it’s too late and I don’t have the money.” “I don’t know why I agreed to buy this house, it’s too much for me to handle and I don’t even like where we live.” “I hate this dress, it cost so much and it makes me look fat. I don’t know why I picked it.” “Why did I choose this car, what a lemon, it’s been nothing but trouble since I got it?” “I don’t know why I got into this business, I haven’t been able to make any money yet, and I’m already in over my head,” and so on and so forth.

The constant complaining in regards to adverse conditions that we bring upon ourselves through our choices often cause unfortunate conditions to continue, like a self-perpetuating wheel that turns itself and picks up steam as it rolls along from the wind it creates by turning. These individuals who make wrong choices find themselves railing at fate because they are mad they were forced to choose and then waited too long to do so. The complaining aggravates them and their situation, causes them to hate their fate more and procrastinate even more on other decisions. They lack self-direction, like a boat without a paddle, going nowhere..

Also, indecisive people are usually easily influenced by the opinion of others. When you live your life according to the opinions of others, you will not express your own desires and successfully complete whatever you want to achieve. The world loves a decisive person. Those who make decisions quickly and know what they want usually get it.

I am a person who loves challenges, who loves learning new things and who is also quite stubborn when I want something. Often when I try to get into a meaningful idea that I think is valuable and helpful to me, I have been faced with opposition, people who discourage me from my intent, whether it be family, friends or acquaintances. I met my greatest resistance when I decided to follow my dream as a songwriter and performer while approaching middle age. It was not a hasty decision based on a mid-life crisis, but one that laid dormant for a long time. I loved performing and simply waited for the right opportunity to bring this desire back into focus.

The years had passed quickly since my dream had been laid to rest. Once my oldest child was out the door with the youngest soon to follow, life was beginning to slow down for me. Grateful for the break, I finally began to focus on myself. Contemplating my reflection in the mirror, I felt relieved that there weren’t any premature grey hairs present. My face had become quite chubby by then, as I detected a slight double chin that was beginning to show and my waistline had expanded. What a frightening and sad moment it was for me! I was now pleasantly plump and entering middle age. Restless and frustrated, I suddenly found myself at a crossroads in my life. It was time to make a choice. The childhood desire to perform, which was waylaid by life throughout the years in my sub-consciousness, began to surface in my conscious mind.

In order to understand the decision that I had made, I needed to self-reflect, which was a crucial part of the practice of not only self-analyzing, but also of understanding the choices and risks involved when making that decision. I asked myself two questions: “What did I want, and where was I going?” I quickly grabbed a notebook and made two columns. In one column I listed the strengths of my personality and the things which I excelled at. In the second column I listed all of my weaknesses that would stand between me and the extraordinary achievement I wished to succeed at. After comparing both sides, I made my choice and took the plunge with an unshakeable confidence that I would eventually succeed, despite all outward setbacks and obstacles. This is what it is all about, making sound choices when pursuing whatever you want amidst easy or difficult circumstances.

As for the word difficult, Mama was not one of my groupie fans, and since she was such a negative person by nature, she tried to discourage me in every which way possible. She told me that I was crazy and that I was going through a mid-life crisis. Musical careers were for the younger generation, not for a woman of my age, and especially a person with my body. Mama said that I would look utterly ridiculous, and what did I know about being a performer when I didn’t have any talent or experience. She added that if I really wanted to perform, then I should have stayed with the church choir, giving my talents to the “work of the Lord.” God bless my Mama, she was so old-fashioned, I know that she meant well.

My brother Michael laughed at me for wanting to be a performer, but I refused to budge, not giving in to him or anybody else’s opinion. I realized right then and there that if my determination was not strong enough to follow my dream, I would fail and regret it immensely.

My life as a songwriter and performer was launched with my one woman show, Love and Things, which was a vaudeville revue and supper-club show rolled into one. Each choice that I kept making sub-consciously in the field of music became a conscious step toward reaching that goal. Although there were some years that were more successful than others, as an ASCAP member, I was beginning to feel a lot more confident about my progress and my prospects in the entertainment field, until regretfully, an accident brought closure to this stage of my life. Though it didn’t seem significant at first, it did have a decisive impact on putting an end to my career as a performer. The final decision created a lot of emotional turmoil.

Even now, as a website administrator and blogger, I still have to deal with negative attitudes by those who are not pleased with what I am doing. “Why are you doing a blog? Even considering being an author? Don’t you have enough on your plate running a website? Between your job and research, you want to write also? Aren’t you taking on too much at your age?” These are the questions I have been asked.

No!

These were my choices and I have no regrets, because when I made my choice, I knew it was the right choice. So my dear reader if I had allowed myself to be swayed by the opinions of others, I would not be here today discussing the subject of “Making Choices: Turmoil or Tranquility?” So when one makes reasonable choices, one will always find a way of balancing health and personal issues, as well as responsibilities.

In establishing choices, whether they are advantageous or inept, they surely will lead to changes in your life. For some individuals, making changes may appear easy, while for others it is extremely difficult. Some may feel threatened by the change and resist it by being difficult and negative in their opinions and participation, while others, those who surrender to change, believe they are a pawn in the hands of luck, with no will of their own. The person with a positive mental attitude who is in charge of himself or herself does not consider evolution as a threat, but as an opportunity to develop his or her horizons. These individuals who possess a PMA are flexible and have self-direction. They trust their decision, weighing all the pros and cons related to it, considering the consequences and deciding which will result in a better return for them. Then take the plunge by moving forward with a burning desire to win or perish. They are not hindered by self-imposed limitations. They have learned the secret of uncovering the hidden talents that are within them, and develop them to the fullest.

If you are a procrastinator, you need to stop feeling upset, worried and miserable, and most of all, start letting go of the habit of being indecisive, which you have harbored all your life. Try establishing peace of mind by focusing on maintaining a positive attitude toward life. This way you will develop confidence in your ability to make correct choices that are right for YOU in any situation.

So my dear friends, when you need to make that choice, will it result in Turmoil or Tranquility? Which do you prefer? As for me, I’ve put off writing about this topic for far too long. Just kidding. Good luck!

 

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