The ability to make personal choices is one freedom we tend to take for granted. It is also one we sometimes forget we even have. We make thousands of choices in a day – what to eat for breakfast, what clothes to wear, whether to kill the spider under the sink or secretly hope it finds its way outside – the list goes on and on. All are choices we make in an instant and are rarely given much thought. But there is another type of choice, conscious choice, which originates deep in our soul and secretly defines who we are and how we navigate society. Whether they are born of moral reasons or based on personal experiences, these are choices that stem from thought and foresight, but sometimes are sacrificed at the hand of convenience and compromise.
I’ve filed this writing under Simple, Not Simple for the very reason that making choices can sound easy on paper, but when it comes to its execution, they can be far from simplistic. When I set out to simplify my life I had to make dozens, dare I say, hundreds of choices – many of which people in my immediate circle did not agree with. For example, in 2011 I quit a well paying full time management position that came with full benefits, a solid pension, and an on-call premium. Everyone thought I had lost my mind. The truth is I very well could have, if I had STAYED in that position. I was stressed to a level where I was no longer able to manage my own self -care and my relationships with family and friends began to suffer greatly. We won’t talk about my social life or hobbies – mainly because neither was in existence. I reached a point where the advantages of leaving the position far outweighed the perks of staying, so I graciously made my exit. Yes, the next year was a tough one but I managed to bounce back both personally and financially. During that time, however, I was constantly reminded of the power of conscious choice. I held my moral ground and tried diligently to base my decisions on my inner passions rather than the monetary gain.
Simplifying my life has been much harder than I expected, I’ll fully admit it. We are bombarded on a daily basis with advertising and social expectations inferring all that we should do, say, buy, make, or hope. When I chose to close my Facebook account, for example, one would have thought I had committed a heinous crime against humanity based solely on people’s reaction. “You did what?” “I couldn’t live without mine.” “How will I get in touch with you?” – all regular statements of the disenchanted. There was the occasional “good for you” which was followed by a look of steadfast relief on the part of the commentator. If I questioned the look and asked why they didn’t get rid of their account too, the response was inevitably; “Oh I couldn’t, how would I keep in touch with everyone, especially my family?” I would calmly point out that we managed without social media and Facebook not ten years ago and that calling, even emailing, were good alternatives. This was usually too much for people to comprehend so I generally just let the subject go. I guess what will be, will be. Que sera sera.
The bottom line is that while choices may be difficult to execute, they are necessary to achieve the life we so desperately wish for. I wanted a simpler life so I did what I knew, deep down, I needed to do in order to gain a life that made me happy and proud . When you make a choice that makes your soul sing because you KNOW it was the best option for you – what others or society says becomes a motivator rather than a deterrent. Challenging the “norm” for the betterment of you is a deeply rewarding act of self-empowerment. I encourage anyone to give it a go.
Looking back at the last three years, a clear pattern has emerged. Anytime I made a decision based on whom it benefited (aka someone other than me) or the money/reward offered, I floundered miserably and ended up wishing I had made a different choice (life can be like a never-ending chose your own adventure book – you just can’t look ahead and see which options have the better outcome…not that I ever did that :P). On the contrary, when I made choices based on my immediate heart’s desire or “what felt right” everything magically feel into place – in all areas. I am not going to proclaim that everything came up roses all the time, I did have to step into some big piles of crap along the way, but the choices were mine to make and I followed them based on my unwavering desire to be live a simple, rewarding life – therefore, I am forever grateful for each one.
Take the first step in achieving your heart’s desire and make a “simple, not simple” choice today – you never know where it may take you!