Choices

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

-Albus Dumbledore

Since I now spend almost an hour a half a day in my car commuting to work1 and since I discovered that you can download audiobooks from the library FOR FREE (!), I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks. And since I prefer to read fiction the old fashioned way2, I’ve been listening to a lot of business/success type books.  In fact, the first two books I listened to this way3 were ones I listed on my performance plan at work for the “professional development” section. Listening to books while I drive makes me feel less like I’m wasting a full work day per week (!) driving4.

One theme that seems to come up over and over again in these books — whether it’s a book on procrastination or negotiation or investing — is priorities and choice.  Kim Kiyosaki in her book, Rich Woman, gives a good example.  She asks, “Would you go to the gym for three hours every day?”  The answer, of course, is “no way! Who has that kind of time?”  Now imagine that your doctor has just told you that you have a life-threatening condition and the only way to cure it is to go to the gym for three hours every day. Would you go?  Of course you would! You’d make sure you fit that into your schedule – you’d chose to spend your time at the gym over every other thing you could be doing. It would become your top priority.  We use “I don’t have time” as an excuse for many things.  But the cold hard fact is – everyone has the same amount of time as every other person in the world – there are 24 hours in the day for each and every one of us and nothing will change that.  And it’s up to us to chose what we want to do with our time 5. As I’ve been thinking about it, I realize that I often don’t spend time thinking about the choices I make and I often use the “I dont’ have time to…” excuse.  I don’t have time to go for a run tonight! I don’t have time to clean my apartment! But I somehow have time to spend the evening reading blogs.  So I’ve decided to follow the advice of Dr. Neil Fiore in The Now Habit and change the language I use to help me be more conscious of the choices I make. Rather than say, “I have to do the laundry, so I don’t have time to go for a run tonight,” I’ll say, “I’m choosing to do the laundry rather than go for a run.” And this will prompt me to think about that choice – do I really consider laundry a priority over exercise? If I haven’t done laundry in two weeks and have almost nothing left to wear to work the next day, maybe I do!  Instead of saying, “I have to work on this project at work,” I’ll say “I’ve decided that this project is my top priority and so I’m choosing to work on it today.”  It’s actually quite empowering to think in terms of “I choose” rather than in the victim-like “I have to” or “I should.”  And sometimes I might choose to spend an evening reading blogs rather than doing something productive, but then it’s my choice to do something that I enjoy for an evening and I won’t be left feeling guilty that I wasted my time when I should have been doing something productive.

Anyway, that’s probably enough psychobabble for today. Although I have been reading6 a lot of these type of books lately, and I have a lot of thoughts about how the stuff in these books apply to me swirling around in my brain7 , so you can probably expect posts about things like procrastination and priorities and suchlike in the next little while8.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m choosing to go for a run!

  1. that’s nearly 7.5 hrs per week, people! []
  2. in an actual book, written on actual paper – preferably curled up with a cup of tea []
  3. one on CD and one which prompted the discovered of downloadable MP3 audiobooks from the library []
  4. although I will admit that Fridays after work I typically listen to fun podcasts or blare my tunes. I know that I’m just not going to absorb anything more concrete than that on a sunny Friday afternoon! []
  5. Now, I’m the first to admit that we are not all on a level playing field when it comes to the choices available to us.  For example, when I was in university, I always had one, sometimes two, jobs to pay the bills, whereas many of my classmates had their bills covered by parents or big scholarships. So I had fewer hours leftover to choose to study or be involved in social or extracurricular activities than others.  Another example – someone who works for minimum wage has to spend more hours working than I do just to cover their basic living expenses, so they don’t have as many “free hours” to choose what to do with.  But we do get to make a lot of choices as to how we do spend our time.  For example, I chose to take on huge student loan debt in order to get an education (and I know a lot of people would not chose to go $70,000+ into debt for school) so that I could get a job doing something I love to do and to make much better money than I would have working in the factory where I worked the summer after my first year of uni []
  6. ur, listening to []
  7. one disadvantage of listening to books in the car, rather than reading them on the bus like I used to, is that I can’t write down my thoughts as I read and, since I have 7.5 fewer hours a week to do so, well, they tend to build up in my brain until I just have to get them out. No wait, until I just choose to make it a priority to get them out! []
  8. But don’t worry, there will still be my usual rants and funny random things from the Internetz interspersed as well! []