It’s All About the Choices We Make!
It’s true. There’s no getting around it. Generally speaking, the way we end up is all about the choice we make in life. Now certainly there are some cases where, as the bumper sticker says, “Things Occur”, but for the most part the course we choose to take along life’s path lead to conclusions that we help form.
So what are some of the choices we make in life that have major impact on our path toward simplicity? Well, there are a lot of them, and most of them are well within your control. Read more…
Dan’s and Vanessa’s Combined Topic: It’s All About the Choices We Make
Most things in life boil down to the choices we make. Grant it, there are many things in life that we can’t control, but most things are the result of choices. So…disclaimer up front…we’re talking mostly about adults here. Sure, kids have choices too, but as Vanessa and I were discussing this topic she reminded me that when it comes to things like education and opportunities, some kids don’t have the support systems as others. What’s normal for one child may be completely foreign or unavailable to another. I think she nailed that so we’ll keep our discuss limited to adults. Heck even adults have constraints on some of their choices, but like I said “most things boil down to choice”...not all. So, disclaimer done…this is more about introspection and choice we make ourselves as individuals, not judging others’ choices…let’s move on.
But just because we choose something, doesn’t mean we get to choose the effects or the ramifications of that choice, too.
Our choices have natural and sometimes inevitable effects.
Some choices are causation for things down the road and not just correlation.
- When we choose to buy things beyond our means using credit, the consequences are merely delayed. But we will face them down the road.
- We borrow from our tomorrow.
- For some reason we believe in the future we’ll have more time, more money, more resources…but that’s not always (or usually) the case.
- Poor credit choices today are literally writing checks that our future self has to cash…or face the ramifications for.
- I have to ask myself, “Does stuff make me THAT happy that I’m going to bet money I don’t even have yet on it?” I don’t think so!
The Choices We Make That Effect Our Path Toward Simplicity
What we do for a living: This is often the result of a series of choices we make, not a single decision. A brain surgeon doesn’t just choose to be a brain surgeon one day. It’s a series of choices that likely began in high school or before. When our parents told us we can “be anything we set our mind to” that didn’t mean we could decide it and then it would happen. We had to make lots of decisions along the way. Sorry, but the “Law of Attraction” only goes so far. It takes the right choices, and working hard to support those choices and enable follow-on choices. Like when you play billiards or pool, the best players plan their shots to set themselves up for the next shot.
Where we choose to live: Now, we’ve mentioned that dream home we had been planning but thankfully we decided to change that choice. We saw ourselves working just to support what we thought would be our dream. The more we contemplated it the more we realized the home would own us and not the other way around! Here’s a portion of a comment we received recently from Dayis on Episode 29 that reinforced that for us:
“Becoming a slave to your dream home – how I wish you were speaking to me a year ago! We moved into our “dream home” last summer and it has become a nightmare…so hard to keep up with its needs, which is now the focus instead of the desert beauty that surrounds us. Hard to find time to just sit and enjoy the views. After your podcast, we’re confident that selling our home is the right thing to do. And thanks for sharing the fisherman tale…it so wonderfully defines what we want to achieve. We’ve titled our mission: Freedom 45! We’ve got 3 years to go and you’ve helped me get on board with my husband’s plan and encouraged us to outline our plan. I get it now.” (bolding added by us for emphasis only)
What we choose to drive: The same thing goes for what we choose to drive. I see nothing wrong with driving exactly what anyone wants to drive as long as it’s within your means and your goals. For the most part, cars are there to get us from Point A to Point B, but they have taken on an entirely different role for some people. Like most things in the consumer society, products have taken on the traits of fashion, versus utility. Lines have expanded to include multiple versions or levels of the same basic vehicle, with sometimes 5 or 6 different trimlines available…even “luxury edition” pickup trucks. Really? Is all of this just to get you to feel like you need to keep up and get used to spending when trends change?
What we choose to purchase: Everything today seems to have a long tail. You’ve all probably heard of the Razor Blade Sales Strategy…sell the razor cheap or give it away…to make money on follow-on purchases of expensive blades. It works! Sell printers cheap to sell expensive follow-on ink, give diabetics glucose meters to sell years worth of expensive test strips, even, some may argue, the Kindle and ebooks, smartphones and data plans… So “long tail” products do three very important things in my opinion when it comes to choices:
- They give you an inexpensive, seemingly viable choice now that sets up follow-on purchases to support that particular product, and…
- They condition you to believe that future purchases are ok and even necessary to support your previous decisions.
- They capitalize on the primacy of your initial choice…what is commonly called your “buy in.” It’s probably not a coincidence that it’s called that…just sayin’.
We choose how we respond to situations: We can choose to accept situations at face value, what we did right, what we did wrong, and how we can learn from those situations or make the outcome better. Or we could choose to have a victim mentality. This is a trap that many people fall into when they’ve made poor choices and don’t want to accept the reality of the outcome of those choices. Certainly, true victims of crimes or circumstances beyond their control don’t fall into this category. The “victim mentality” is more of a euphemism for those who don’t accept responsibility for choices they’ve made. Unfortunately, this seems to be on the rise…
We choose to be positive or negative: It’s easy to think bad about someone or yourself. You think you are fat and that you’ll never be fit and healthy so then you figure: “I’ll just keep eating bad because what’s the point if I have no discipline….I don’t know how to eat healthy…I don’t have good genes…so what difference will it make if I eat another donut…or two…or three?”
- It’s a domino/snowball effect. The more negative you are the worse your situation can potentially be. But that same domino effect can happen if you choose to be positive. If you say: “Yes…I probably ate too many donuts today, but I know I can do better than that…I will eat low-fat sandwich instead of a pizza pocket for lunch…I have the willpower and the ability to eat better and to get fit…my body deserves better but it’s up to me…I am strong and I am capable.” So then before you know it, that positive snowball is rolling and you’ll get momentum. You’re eating healthy, getting fit and then have more willpower than you’ve ever had!
- You can choose your own happiness! This didn’t really hit home for me until I read a book called “Happiness Is A Serious Problem” by Dennis Prager. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. Here is a little taste of the book from Goodreads:
There is little correlation between the circumstances of people’s lives and how happy they are. When you ask people about their most cherished values in life, “happiness” is always at the top of the list. However, unhappiness does not seem to be the exceptional order to be happy, we first have to battle ourselves. Not only do we have a right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy. Our happiness has an effect on the lives of everyone around us. It provides them with a positive environment in which to thrive and to be happy themselves.
- This book is riddled with sage advice about happiness, but I think one of the most prevalent, overarching thoughts is, you are responsible for your happiness…not the perfect job…not the supermodel wife…not the hottest sports car…not your McMansion…not your parents (at least not anymore as a 30-50 something year old). Once you realize you are responsible, then there’s no more blaming, no more helplessness…there’s only you and the choices you make!
What we choose to eat: It’s true what our Moms told us…we are what we eat. Of course we can choose to eat what we want but it’s not without consequences. Juicing was a big move for me personally…
As a kid, if you asked me to plan out the meals for the day here’s what it would have been: Breakfast: Huge bowl of Cap’n Crunch (that’s the military side of me coming out), big glass of orange juice, and bacon. Lunch: Pizza and either Coke or milk. Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs, lots of garlic cheese bread and milk. Late Night snack: Chips (either salty or salt and vinegar), rootbeer, or a big vanilla shake. So, those were some of my favorites…and my pallette didn’t swing too far from that.
Who we choose to associate with: Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn is quoted as saying “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” So think about that… you are the average of their thoughts, what the earn, how they spend their time, etc. Hopefully in your 5 people you have an accountability partner, a mentor (for whatever your major goals are), a sounding board. Now when I first heard that saying I was a little concerned. Sure, I spent time with lots of great people but most of them are different in so many ways. I have vastly different goals when it comes to work, finances, family, lifestyle in general. But what I decided was that quote, whether scientific or not falls into that law of averaging, had some merit. But I also concluded that I spent so much time listening to my select podcasts, audiobooks, reading actual old school physical books, taking courses, watching TED Talks, etc, that a good portion of my 5 people I had never even actually met! But they served as mentors nonetheless. So, who are the 5 people you are the average of? Maybe you have just the right mix…or maybe it’s time for you to shake it up a bit and start spending time with some people who will help you reach your goals.
What we chose to purchase: We’ve hit on this topic already in this show and in lots of previous episodes, but it’s worth foot stomping a bit. We acquire things for many reasons: to feel secure, to be prepared for just-in-case scenarios, to fit-in, because we think we need things…or because we actually do need things (like food, shelter, and clothing). But what we actually need to purchase is probably significantly less than what we end up purchasing. Too many times we purchase things because we think it’ll buy our happiness or earn us a spot in the “cool crowd” but don’t be fooled.
You choose your place in the crowd: Dan used to tell his troops that when you go in to a new unit you can usually tell within the first few days whether or not they are squared away. Then you have two choices. You can:
- Bust your butt to get that unit up to your standard of excellence
- Bust your butt bringing yourself up to the unit’s standard of excellence
- Either way, you better be busting your butt.
We choose how to raise our families: Do I want to be a parent or a friend? A mentor or strict disciplinarian? Nurturer or tough love coach? Will I refuse to let my kids grow up or teach them independence? Or maybe I want to be a little bit of all of these. And that’s fine, but what choices you make will have an impact good or bad on your kids. Involving them in extra-curricular activities will expose them to different sports or arts, teaching them teamwork and discipline…but too many activities and a full schedule may cause stress, anxiety, and sacrifice valuable family time together. I know these are broad and maybe a little far-reaching, but just think about it….think about how you really want to raise your family and the values you want to pass on to them…I guarantee you’ll be a little more deliberate in the things you do.
You can and will make good choices….but you’ll also make bad ones…even with the best intentions. For example, I know that it’s probably best to always think and be positive…but I’m not. I have and do fail at this more often than I’d like. And I’m not always as “present” with my family as I’d like to be (especially when I’m preoccupied with work or other obligations). And you may fail at making the right choice too, but the point here is to be aware…then learn…and reflect so that you are more conscious and thoughtful of the choices you are making. Because when you are more thoughtful…you’re better able to anticipate the outcome…even if its a bad one.
Dan’s Thing: The Note Anywhere Extension for Chrome Browser
Vanessa’s Thing: Our 8th Anniversary
Google Drive Tutorial
The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial will be available at the discounted price of just $7.99 until 30 June 2013, when it will increase to $9.99. Either way, it’s a bargain! In this introduction, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+ windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/GoogleDrive. Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!
Charity Water/Amazon Update
We did want to mention that thanks to you, we’ve been able to donate another $100 this month to Charity Water because of your purchases through our affiliate links. While we work hard to bring awareness to consumerism we realize that there are some things you still may choose to purchase.
If you purchase through Amazon, we ask you to consider going to SimpleLifeTogether.com/Amazon and bookmarking that. That link takes you directly to Amazon where you can make your purchases just like you ordinarily would, but Amazon pays us a little bonus (about 4%) and we donate that to Charity Water to help build wells for villages…so, everybody wins!
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