How Much Are We In Control of Our Decisions?
Dissecting the Influences of Our Choices
I always thought I had a pretty strong grip on the steering wheel when it came to my decisions in life. I always felt confident in knowing, or at least thinking that I knew, what I wanted out of life. I always thought that I was pretty sure of who I was and who I wanted to become.
For the most part, none of that has really changed drastically in the past few years. If anything, I’ve actually become more confident in knowing who I am and who I want to become.
However, the only question that I’ve asked myself throughout this time of personal growth is how much of an influence do I, myself, really have on my decisions.
What I mean by this is — How often have I made decisions that I came up with on my own terms?
And how often have I made decisions based on the influence of outside factors?
Now, I’m not talking about peer pressure or trying to fit in — I’ve never really been the type of person to do something just to go along with the crowd.
No, what I’m wondering is how easily have I succumbed to certain decisions just because they seemed like they would provide me with more comfort or stability in my life — And this comfort comes in many forms; Financial comfort, living comfort, pure convenience.
I wonder how much I’ve been sold on an easier, more comfortable life rather than one that would be a little more difficult, but much more worth living?
I recently read an article by another Medium author, titled “It’s Okay to Not Want a Promotion” by Jean Hannah Edelstein.
This article really hit home for me.
I was able to relate on such a level that after reading it, I had to ask myself why I was still stuck in the same position for so long even though I know I don’t have to be.
It got me thinking about the choices that we make in our lives and how we’ve come to make certain decisions.
Now, I, or anyone else for that matter, can defend every decision I’ve ever made up until my last dying breath, but if someone asks, “Is that what you really wanted?” well, then I may have to step back a little bit.
I’m sure that if we all did the things we actually wanted to do, then our lives would look very different — The world would look very different.
But, that is obviously not the case. We all have outside factors; Financial obligations, responsibilities at home, our families, our loved ones.
Not every decision can always be made with “I” as the forefront.
So, how much are we really in control of our decisions?
Well, the answer is plain and simple. We are all 100% in control of our decisions — But, just because we are in control doesn’t mean we always make the decisions that we necessarily want to make.
In Jean’s article, she cited a quote from a leadership coach named Liz Sanchez, which went,
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.”
Again, this really struck home for me because it led me to my initial question of asking myself why I’m doing what I’m doing in life (and for the record, I’m mostly talking about my career).
In the article, Jean goes on to write about her experiences, saying,
“Disappointed by the outcome of my writing ambitions, I didn’t ask myself if I wanted to be a tech-world striver. I just started doing it, because that seemed like the right thing, the thing everyone else seemed to want, the thing I should want for myself. It seemed like progress.”
I personally feel the exact same way in my current position and I’m sure that many others do as well.
We often think that there’s only one specific path to success, but it really all depends on how you’re defining success.
Success does not have a universal definition.
Success has a different meaning for everyone
Just because you're not there yet, doesn't mean you'll never get there
The decisions we make in our lives are dependent on our own beliefs, our personal values, our own vision of what we want our lives to look like.
If you are making decisions based on the beliefs, values, and vision of others, then you are not very much in control of the choices you are making.
Whatever you do in life, just make sure that it’s for the true benefit of you and yours truly, not those who don’t matter to you.
We can be in control. We just have to create our own vision of our future.