If you’re feeling overwhelmed, chances are you feel as though you don’t have much choice in your life. You may feel as if you’re on a treadmill, spending each day simply trying not to fall off.
And yet, life is made up of choices. Every choice you make affects how it will feel to be you in the future. In modern times, we are (most of us) really lucky to live in a liberated society, free to choose how we live our lives. But what do we do with that freedom?
If you’re feeling like you’re being pushed this way and that by life, without exercising your agency, it may be high time you took stock of the choices you have the opportunity to make day-to-day and appreciate how much control you have over your destiny.
Rather than feel like a stick on a river current, contemplate these essential life choices that you have the privilege to make. Thinking about these choices could leave you feeling empowered and excited to exercise your freedom.
Choose to Add to Your Family
If you have a partner, and you are able to bear children together, you have the choice whether or not you would like to bring another human being into the world. Isn’t that amazing? Thanks to the kindness of other human beings who are willing to donate, or be surrogates, or give up their children to others who really desire children, you also have that choice even if you don’t have a partner, and if you personally are not able to conceive. Deciding whether or not to have children is one of the most important decisions of your life. The consequences—whichever way you choose to go—will have enormous implications for your future and, of course, the future of your family.
You Don’t Have to Make Important Decisions Alone
Some decisions in life are bigger than others. Should you get married? Should you become a lawyer? Should you become a parent? Nobody can make these choices for you. When it comes to your education, it’s your mind, and your future on the line. In the case of having a baby, it’s your body, your home. That said, you do not have to make these important decisions alone. If you’re in a couple, one of the most challenging things is trying to have constructive conversations about important issues without hurting one another’s feelings, or causing alarm when the other is not ready, or willing, to speak about it.
While discussions with your partner are of the utmost importance, it’s wise to also discuss important decisions such as marriage, investments, relocation, or family planning decisions with a close friend, a trusted family member, or a councillor. Sometimes speaking to someone neutral and objective—someone whose feelings you’re not worried about hurting—is the key to understanding how you feel, and making the right choice for you.
Decide to Save Money
If you’re feeling a little short on cash, you may have the sense that your pay-check comes into your account and vanishes before you’ve had a chance to even look at your bank balance. This can leave you feeling powerless, as you can’t feel prepared for any disasters that come out of the blue—say, your fridge-freezer breaks down!— or the occasional treat, like a dinner out. What’s the point of working hard if you can’t treat yourself once in a while, right?
Believe it or not, you have more control over your finances than you think you do. You may be spending more money than you need to without realising it, or spending it unwisely because you haven’t sat down lately and worked out your budget. Of course, saving is never easy, but if you want to save money, you can.
Step one is tracking your spending every week and every month. Once you know what you’re spending your money on, you’ll be empowered to work out a more accurate budget. At this point, it will be clear to you how much money you can comfortably save every month. Aim for at least ten per cent, if possible. This will add up quickly over time, which means you’ll soon have the funds for the odd splurge if that’s what you would like, and/or you’ll be equipped for the occasional disaster.
Make Big Choices Again Every Day
Many of the biggest choices we make in life actually require that we make them daily, or weekly, or monthly. Take marriage, for example. You choose who you want to marry. Sure. But then, every single day of your marriage, you choose to stay married. You choose to stay true to each other. You choose to make each other laugh. Likewise, if you’re choosing to be healthy, you can’t just decide once and for all that you’re going to have the healthiest lifestyle imaginable: you have to make the decision every day to eat well, exercise and drink water. So when you’re feeling like your life is an endless series of pre-decided habits, and you have no freedom, remember that every day, you’re making some of the most important decisions of your life.
Some Choices Are Best Made Once
That said, there are some choices that should be made once and for all! For example, if you choose to save a tenth of your wages, it’s best not to ask yourself to make this choice month after month. While it might feel empowering to transfer the money after payday, or draw out the cash and stash it in your piggy-bank, let’s be honest: you’ll probably choose not to some months, undermining the whole project. Rather, make the choice once, by setting up an automatic transfer of funds to your bank account.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mum or a high-powered business exec, you may experience times in your life when you feel powerless. Sometimes it helps to remind yourself of all the important choices you do have. Just taking stock of these choices could leave you feeling a little more empowered in your day to day life.
Blog kindly contributed by Amy Walker