But I had no choice

You’ve heard the story about a man riding a horse at breakneck speed.  It appears he’s going someplace very important.  A man standing along the roadside shouts, “Where are you going?”  To which the rider yells back, “I don’t know.   Ask the horse.”

This seems to be essentially the story I’m hearing from lots of people today.  They’re riding the horse of circumstances, their habits or other people’s expectations.  If that describes you, it’s time to grab the reins and move your life in the direction you really want to go.horse

I’m currently working with a very prominent lady – the CEO of an international company.  But recent events are signaling that it’s time for her to exit and map out a better fit for her work and life direction.  And she’s convinced she has no choice but to stay and see how things play out.  As part of my follow up letter I wrote,

“Please be aware of how often you say ‘I had no choice.’  You said that multiple times yesterday and I cringed each time.  Regardless of the events that have unfolded, when you say ‘I have no choice’ you are giving up control to circumstances or other people.  And with that you will in fact be a victim of circumstances – and thus become a puppet of outside forces.  You always have a choice – and I want you to recognize that in every situation you can choose.  The options may look grim but you still get to choose as you move ahead.”

One of the defining moments of my life occurred when I was about 13 years old.  The direction of my life was pretty clear.  My dad was a farmer – and he expected me to help him and to eventually take over the family farm.  I acknowledged that because of my circumstances and the family I was born into, farming would in fact be my future.

Then I somehow got a copy of the little 33.3 rpm recording of Earl Nightingale called The Strangest Secret.  The central message was this – We become what we think about.  That opened a door to a whole new world of possibilities for me that has never been closed.

What are you thinking about?  If your mind is controlled by the bad economy, the hateful Clinton-Trump political rantings, the unemployment, the unfairness of the company, the hurt of a past relationship, or the limitations of your formal education, your “horse” will be taking you toward scarcity, misery, and unhappiness.  You’ll convince yourself you have no choice.

I hear statements like these every day:

  • I shouldn’t have taken this job I hate – but I had no choice.
  • I didn’t want to finance a new car but I had no choice.
  • I didn’t want to borrow $100,000 for my academic degree but I had no choice.
  • I didn’t want to file bankruptcy but I had no choice.
  • I did’t want to over borrow for the house we have but I had no choice.
  • I didn’t intend to get behind on my IRS payments but I had no choice.

And of course that’s never true.  We always have choices.  Don’t give up control of your life by saying “I have no choice.”  List three alternatives for any decision you’re confronting.  Think you’re trapped in a horrible job?  List three things you could do tomorrow morning other than going to that job.

Today, I again enjoy many things about farm life, and love the pleasures of living in the country on our little farm.  But what I saw as limitations are gone.  Today I choose to have a John Deere tractor and make time to enjoy a little mowing, a little planting and the creation of the beautiful gardens that grace our property. 

Where is your thinking taking you?  Is some wild horse of circumstances misdirecting you, or are you moving exactly in the direction of your dreams?  What choices are you making about the life you’re living? 

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