Nothing creates a greater gap between successful and unsuccessful people than the choices we make. Too often, people make life more difficult for themselves because they make bad choices at the intersections of their life or they decline to make choices because of fear. But it’s important to remember that while we don’t always get what we want, we always get what we choose.
I am currently in a stage of life where I am making some major changes. This is requiring that I make a number of choices. In some cases it is giving up the good to get the best. In other cases, it is no longer doing things that once worked and simply no longer do. It is a season for trade-offs.
Whenever I face an opportunity for a trade-off, I ask myself two questions:
1> What are the pluses and minuses of this trade-off?
Anytime you react to one of life’s crossroads according to fear rather than looking at its merits, you close yourself off from a potential opportunity. By trying to figure out the pluses and minuses of any given choice, it helps me deal with the fear. Looking at cold, hard facts has also led me to discover that I have a tendency to overestimate the value of what I currently am doing and underestimate the value of what I may gain by giving it up and making the change.
2> Will I go through this change or grow through this change?
Good trade-offs are not something to be endured. That reflects a passive attitude and a mind-set that says, “I hope this turns out all right.” Instead, positive trade-offs should be seen as opportunities for growth and seized. After all, we become better as a result of them. When we grow through change, we become active. We take control of our attitude and emotions. We become positive-change agents in our own lives.
Author Dennis Waitley said, “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”
I agree with that, and years ago when I first read that I determined that while others may lead timid lives, I would not. While others might see themselves as victims, I would not. While others leave their future in someone else’s hands, I will not. While others simply go through life, I will grow through life. That is my choice, and I will surrender it to no one.
Let’s look at a few truths regarding trade-offs…
A> Trade-offs force us to make difficult personal changes
Often you will hear people expressing the hope that things will change. At those moments, I want to tell them that the difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives. When you want something you have never had, you must do something you have never done. Otherwise you keep getting the same results.
Changes to our lives always begin with changes we are willing to make personally. That’s often not easy. But to get ourselves over the hump, we need to remember that…
- Change is personal – To change your life, YOU need to change
- Change is possible – Everyone CAN change if they want to
- Change is profitable – You will be rewarded when you change
Change may not always be easy, but it can always be done. As psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl observed, “When we are no longer able to change a situation. We are challenged to change ourselves.” We just need to remember that we are the key.
More next time…