You’ve made them before, though perhaps not by this name. Those Strong Choices, where you just know in your gut and in your brain that one option is just. the. Right. Thing. Capitalized. Period. No doubts whatsoever.
Strong Choices: they are clear-cut, in your long-term best interest, and support your larger goals. And they just plain FEEL GOOD.
Sometimes they just happen on their own (How did all my daily meditation sessions just happen all week?? Sweet!)
Sometimes it takes a little finagling with your inner lazy-lump (C’mon! you know you’ll feel so much better after that walk / run / yoga session!)
And yet other times you’re faced with a bit more of a struggle (I want to follow through on my plan to cook more, but in this moment I just don’t care! Where’s the number for the pizza delivery??)
Making Strong Choices means Caring.
Caring for yourself, caring for your BIG goals and plans and dreams, caring for your past self AND your present self AND your future self.
Of course, making Strong Choices isn’t always easy.
The comforts of immediate, short-term pleasures have a loud call. There are infinite varieties of instant gratification (shopping? Facebook? chocolate? Hulu?), all serving up instant rewards.
And our brains are wired for instant gratification. Yet we all know that this can generate a heavy burden, a dear cost – to our dreams, to our aliveness, to our very purpose.
Here are four simple steps to slay the self-sabotaging call of instant gratification, and to practice making mindful, aligned, ongoing Strong Choices.
1) Tune In & Set Your Intention
The first step is to set your intention for making Strong Choices. Tune in and recognize WHY you want to do this – is it in order to end your self-sabotaging patterns? Or to finally hit an important yet elusive goal? Or maybe to gain a sense of deeper mindfulness around your daily routines?
2) Create an Anchor for the Big Picture
Once you’re clear on your ultimate Big Picture goal, find a way to anchor it into your daily life so that it stays top of mind. This can be as simple as putting up post-it note reminders, wearing a specific piece of jewelry that you imbue with that purpose, programming in reminders on your phone, tying a string around your wrist… This is a chance to get creative and intentional, and an opportunity to revisit and recall your intention frequently.
3) Recognize Choice Points
Your greatest point of power is in each individual little moment, and especially so when in that moment you are faced with a decision. Couch or bike ride? Cake or banana? Create or consume? Often you’re not even aware that you’re making a choice, you’re simply operating on auto-pilot. But around areas where you want to make a change, becoming mindful of the myriad tiny choices you’re un- or half-consciously making is a key step.
Once you’re aware that you’re at a choice point…
4) Go for the Gut
While our logical mind certainly has a place, when making decisions it is best to go for the gut. Many studies show that it is often our gut instinct, that pre-thinking KNOWING part of ourselves, which is better at making strong choices. You know this yourself: the initial flicker of knowing the best path forward, before the ego-self begins to talk you out of it with all that instant gratification self-talk. Trust the gut – it won’t steer you wrong.
Hooray! You can now go forth and achieve anything by making Strong Choices! The next step is to develop strong follow-through. But that is a topic for another post.
It’s all just pretty words, until you put it into action:
- What are some areas in which you would like to make consistently Strong Choices?
- Why are these important to you?
- What intention do you want to set?
- How will you anchor that intention?
- When in your day do you want to practice mindfulness around noticing all the choices you’re making on auto-pilot?
- When you find yourself making a choice, practice making it a Strong Choice – one that honors your intention and long-term success; what resistance, if any, do you encounter?
- What overall benefit do you see in learning to make Strong Choices?
With much love,