Did You Make Good Choices or Have Good Choices?


There is a concept that I heard recently which was quite intriguing. Instead of saying “They made good choices,” say “They had good choices.”

It is an expression of the fact that our society is very unequal and quite unfair, two sentiments which I must absolutely agree with. It is part of a broader set of messaging, the upshot of which is that fundamental changes must be made at a political level to return fairness to our system. I can’t disagree with that either.

On the idea of “making” versus “having” good choices, however, it took me some time to come to grips with how I feel about it.

On the one hand, it is quite valid. Some people are just presented with better choices than others. If your choices include “what should I do with this small million dollar loan?” then your outcomes are likely going to be better than “which low wage job should I take?”

On the other hand, the concept is fantastically disempowering, and that is very dangerous.

We all have choices, and some of choices are better than others. Better choices are often harder choices. If we believe that we are given choices rather than taking them, then we may become fatalistic, choosing the easy path because we do not believe that the hard path will pay off.

We also often have choices we don’t realize we have. If we internalize this concept of having choices presented to us, then we merely choose from the choices presented rather than seeking solutions.

At any crossroads, there is always a better choice and a worse choice. Your better choice may be far worse than another person’s worst option, but that is not relevant. There’s no scoreboard. The only thing that matters is whether you are living your own best life, not how your life compares to anyone else’s.

For one person, their best choice may be to engage in real estate investment and become a millionaire. For another person, their best choice may be to simplify their life to reduce expenses and live on very little income but find satisfaction and fulfillment in other aspects.

There are some people who have lucked into success. Good for them. For others, however, the story often begins when they decided that they would achieve some goal. They did not know how they would achieve it, but they made the decision to find a way.

When they did that, they started to become aware of choices that they did not previously realize they had. It’s like when you buy a silver Honda Civic and suddenly see silver Honda Civics all over the place. They were always there, but you didn’t recognize them until you had a reason to see them.

Even if the goal is seemingly impossible, it creates a broader vision and awareness of a better world.

I have goals that I set twenty years ago that I am not much closer to today than I was when I set them, but the existence of the goal has let me to make choices which allowed me to learn, grow, and have experiences that have made me wiser, stronger, and generally live a better, more fulfilled life.

When I express these concepts, some people will object that I am blaming poor and even disabled people for their lot. This is absurd. The atrocious state of poverty in our society is the result of heartless, amoral, and Godless policies that have been inflicted on our nation for the past forty years, and the disability system is a nightmare that is truly difficult to comprehend for someone who has not experienced it.

As a society, it is imperative that we make structural changes to fix an economy that leaves a massive portion of our population one event away from homelessness and starvation.

But I do not coach societies. I coach people. When one is coaching someone, one does not spend a great deal of thought on how the client got where they are. The primary focus is on how to get them where they want to go.

If I find someone in the water, clinging to a piece of wood from a shipwreck, I’m not going to waste a lot of words on what was wrong with the ship that led it to sink. I’m going to focus on finding ways to get them out of the water.

No matter your situation, if you still have years remaining in your life, you have choices. Some of those choices are better than others, and having a vision of a better future will let you see choices you did not realize you had.

This is true if you are running a multimillion dollar business. This is true if you live in a box under a bridge with nothing but the clothes on your back.

This doesn’t mean that there is necessarily a set of choices that will get you from the bridge to the boardroom. This does not mean that the right choices are easy ones (they rarely are). This does not mean you are playing on an even playing field.

The game may be rigged, but it’s the game you’re playing.

You want to try to change the game? That’s great. But it’s not going to change today, tomorrow, or next week. While trying to change the world, it is imperative to also try to change your world, if for no other reason than to build your resources to change the world.

It does you no favors to believe that the choices you make do not matter.

We are all the sum of all the choices we have ever made. Some of us have had better options, and others worse, but the fact that those choices led us to this day and this place remains undeniable.

This is not just talk. What I do is help people identify the better choices they do have available and pursue them. Maybe you don’t think you have good options, or you aren’t sure what they might be. I would like to help you. That is why I offer a free coaching session to anyone who would like to talk. There is no cost and no obligation. My purpose is to get you in the right direction, and what you do after that is entirely up to you.

To sign up a for a free session, use the form below.

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