Who makes your choices?

Last week Friday, I met with one of my mentors and we had a long conversation for a few hours at his home. When I say conversation, it was more of him talking and me listening. I am always amazed at how much one can learn when he (or she) shuts up and listens. I love listening and during that listening session, my mentor shared with me the content of one presentation he had made to a group of young students in a classroom prior to our meeting.

The presentation was about the choices those young students were making now and the choices they would be making in the future. This applies to all of us who make choices daily. As I understood what he explained, there are three types of choices, the ones your parents and other people (teachers, educators, guardians, other family members) make for you during the early stages of your life, the choices you make for yourself as you become more aware and independent and last, the choices time makes for you.

Source: http://admin.decisionaids.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/kneearthritis/media/images/Choices.png

Elaborating a little bit on each of the items above:

  • The choices your parents (and other people) make for you. Most of these choices will turn out to be best for us during that period of our lives when we do not know the difference between good and bad. Even when we start making the difference between good and bad, our personal choices will be based on our parents’ choices and experiences, not necessarily on what is best for us. Examples of those choices are the schools you go to, the people you interact with and the places you go to. A parent who takes his child to read books at the library after school is definitely making a better choice than a parent who turns on the TV for his child every every weekday to have time and rest from another day at a “disliked” job. This period will be from 0 to about 11 years old (teenage), but it varies per every individual and the way we have been raised.
  • The choices you make for yourself. This period is from the teenage years to the rest of our lives, and the more “good” we make, the longer the rest of our lives is. When we begin choosing for ourselves, we always choose with two simple factors in consideration: 1) The impact of the past choices other people have made for us. 2) The future we want to create for ourselves (consciously or not). For example, if your parents have always said no to you going out for parties with friends and you have seen those friends destroy their health or compromise their future with their unwise choices (sometimes made for them), you will likely choose not to go to parties as much as possible. If you have consciously decided what you want to have or be in your future, you will make choices that will be in alignment with the vision you have of yourself. It is very simple.
  • The choices time makes for you. My mentor gave me a good example for these types of choices. Imagine a lady who has made the choice to have a child but has not chosen someone to have that child with. If that lady goes pass the age limit of childbearing as per woman’s physiology, time will make for her the decision not to have a child.

William James said: “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night, we make choices that determine the course of our lives. Once we get through to the stage where we make choices for ourselves, it is imperative that we do not let time make some choices for us, especially with matters of critical importance like having children. Has time made some choices for you?