Life choices have consequences. While the word consequence comes with a negative connotation, the true definition is simply, “a result or effect from an action or condition”. These results can be positive and rewarding just as they can be unfavorable and penalizing.
Good choices lead to fruitful effects while bad choices create an undesirable outcome.
My son’s birthday was this weekend. We had an amazing amount of fun. From hours at the adventure park (picture ninja warrior training with a side of dodgeball), to a day of basketball and BB guns. Too much good food, an abundance of cake, and definitely not enough sleep. Sunday night rolled around and our normal routine was out of whack. In bed at 8:00pm, lights out thirty minutes later is the norm. He was wound up and wanted to “spend his thirty” in the living room. Normally this is an immediate and giant “NO”. But with it being his birthday, I couldn't bring myself to send him off to bed instead of letting him spend just a little bit longer with the family. He promised, even pinky swore, there would be no argument when the timer went off. He spent his time with the guys watching some wrestling clips while I finished cleaning up from his celebration.
For every action, there is a reaction.
The thirty minutes flew by. He got into bed with no fighting as promised. Mumbled, “Well that was a waste, I should have just got in bed and watched my show”. I don’t know what he was expecting from an extra half hour out of bed. I do know, it didn't live up to his expectations.
Life choices have consequences.
He is ten, and this was a minor life choice in the whole scheme of things. Regardless of how small, the impact was felt, disliked, and likely this choice won’t be made again.
How can we increase our chances of making good choices on a daily basis? What can we do to reduce the aftermath of a misguided decision?
What If?: While the “What If” game has a tendency to throw me into an intense panic attack, weighing our options when faced with a choice is necessary. Following your gut may be tempting, but you risk getting stuck with a crappy outcome. I am not suggesting that every decision requires a wall full of post it notes, but take a moment to identify the best, and sometimes more importantly, worst case scenarios.
Look Back: As we get older, we often are faced with similar situations. Did it work in your favor last time? No? Choose differently this time. On the other hand, if going to bed early the night before a big sales presentation has proved to be profitable, get some shut eye and rake in the dollars.
STOP!: So you took a left when you should have gone right. Do a U-turn. Most decisions can be reevaluated and adjusted as needed. Consistent awareness of your actions can correct a misstep before it turns into a disaster.
There’s Always Next Time: Didn’t turn around? Thought you knew better than the pleasant voice on your GPS telling you the road was closed ahead? You’ll likely listen next time. Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. While I may not be completely sane, I have learned that when the road says “closed”, it actually might be. Mistakes provide a learning opportunity. Don’t waste it or repeat it. Learn from it.
In our daily lives we are faced with choices from the moment we wake, until the moment we finally crawl into bed. Some may seem so insignificant that they require no thought, while others present themselves as potential life changing events.
No matter how big or how small, our life choices have consequences. Make sure the decisions you make lead to results you can live with, or at least learn from.