Wherever you are at in life or business is a result of choices you've made. While there are outside forces that create setbacks, it is still your choice as to how you will respond to those incidents that determine whether or not you climb forward or fall behind.
Following are seven choices that will help shape your career and your life, for better or for worse. Obviously, there are far more than seven choices, but those that follow will have profound impact on whether you shape your life or are shaped by life.
The choice to grow. Growth is not automatic. You must choose to remain teachable, to work hard on yourself. When you choose not to grow, you become stale, arrogant, and will plateau.
The choice to give. Giving of your time, expertise, and resources without expecting anything in return is an unselfish choice. The world needs more givers. Amazingly enough, when you focus more on the wants and needs of others, more of your own wants and needs are met. When you choose to hoard what you have rather than give, you become the center of your own lonely universe. As a result, you repel both people and potential blessings.
The choice to listen. One of the best ways to build a connection with others is to listen to them. Take the focus off yourself and put it on the other person. This draws others to you because you place importance on others. When you choose to do all the talking, you rarely build strong or sustainable relationships. You are a turn-off and people will avoid you.
The choice to make a difference. Making a difference by adding value to others is a choice. Similar to its cousin, giving, making a difference goes a step further by causing you to leave others and the world better than you found it. It goes beyond crossing the finish line by yourself and causes you to bring others across the line with you. On the other hand, when you choose to live in a selfish world, absorbed only with your own problems, after you die it will be as though you never lived. You added value to nothing and impacted no one.
The choice to do what is right. Doing what is right rather than what is easy, cheap, popular or convenient is not always pleasant. However, it is what builds character and maintains your self-respect. Doing what is right is a sleeping aid. It creates inner peace and makes your decisions easier since you've already decided up front what you stand for. Taking the easy way out renders you unreliable, someone who will one day end up without friends.
The choice to take care of your health. It is said that your body is a temple, but that many people treat it like an outhouse. On the way to get more and more, they sell out one key thing that money can't buy: physical well-being. Make no mistake about it: Exercising or not is a choice. Putting the donut in your mouth or not is a choice. The same goes for smoking. The earlier in life you decide to develop the discipline to live a healthy lifestyle, the better.
The choice to connect with a higher power. Living a spiritual life adds a dimension to each day that is nearly impossible for non-spiritual people to grasp. It gives you hope where others see defeat, energy when others are exhausted, wisdom when others are confused, and courage when others are fearful. Living without spiritual connectivity leaves an inner void. If you feel empty and if your life lacks a greater purpose, it may be time for you to choose a different and better route.
There are other key choices that shape your life, like accepting responsibility, the choice to make each day a masterpiece, and more. However, these seven choices should give you plenty to ponder.
What are you doing well? But just in case they don't, let me conclude with four final questions concerning these seven choices: What are you waiting for? Where are you off track? What corrections will you make? Let us realize that what happens around us is largely outside our control, but that the way we choose to react to it is inside our control. Life is a voyage in which we choose neither vessel nor weather, but much can be done in the management of the sails & the guidance of the helm.