We are ALWAYS at CHOICE. Sounds simple. For many things, this is an easy and empowering concept to embrace. Someone asks you out to dinner. Do you really want to go? You decide "yes" or "no". You're at choice. Someone asks you to do something you DON'T want to do. Again, you're at choice..."yes" or "no".

Yet, how many times have you said, or heard someone else repeatedly say, "I don't have a choice"? Deadlines. Big projects. Children. Commitments. Agreements. Board Meetings. Relationships. Look at anyone who is stressed, overwhelmed or filled with anxiety....and I'll show you a person who doesn't feel in control of their life. Our lives are filled with "have to's", "need to's" and "shoulds", which can bring great stress. When the stakes get larger, the idea of "choice" can go right out the window. In the eye of life's biggest challenges, I'd like to suggest that "YOU ARE ALWAYS AT CHOICE".

Let's take a commitment you've made at work. Perhaps a huge undertaking that is going to require extra hours, serious focus with a tight deadline. You originally committed enthusiastically to the project, and now it's impeding your life. The stress levels rise, and you find yourself overwhelmed because your health is being compromised, your family is demanding attention, and your "inner peace" has become a distant concept. You are saying to yourself, "I don't have a choice". " If I want to complete this project, and NOT lose my job - I HAVE TO WORK". Perhaps you know someone who has experienced this scenario, maybe even you.

In the face of "I don't have a choice"

…..you have choices.


CHOICE #1 - STAY in the perspective of "I don't have a choice" WHILE RESISTING or RESENTING the original commitment. This is a CHOICE, whether you acknowledge it or not. When you choose "I don't have a choice" you are playing "victim" to your original commitment (or choice) and/or the circumstances that surround you. I call this running on "auto-pilot". "I made the commitment, I HAVE to follow through". No, you don't HAVE TO. Do you run on "auto-pilot" out of a sense of "integrity" or "have to"? In doing so, you're giving your power away to someone or something other than yourself. You'll likely feel stress, overwhelm, out of control and intense time pressures. The "choice" to stay in "I don't have a choice" is an energy drain and dis-empowering, and ultimately creates a negative impact on your performance and your health. Where are you RESISTING a CHOICE? This is a cop out choice.

CHOICE #2 - Make a new agreement. I'm big on keeping my word, however I believe it's even MORE important to "be at choice". And, often times creating a new agreement is best for YOU, and for all parties. This is often a simple and easy solution that brings power back to you.

* Can the deadline be extended or dropped?
* Can an appointment be rescheduled?
* What are the consequences of completing this late? Can you live with that?
* How else might I achieve my outcome?

CHOICE #3 - Explore alternative resources. When we're locked into "I don't have a choice", we're less likely to explore alternative resources or to accept help from others. Set aside your ego and the need to be "significant". Give up the notion of something "having" to be hard. Be WILLING for it to be easier. It doesn't always have to be a struggle. "Be at choice" and open yourself up to the alternatives. Ask a powerful question. One of my friends is always asking, "How can this be done more easily and efficiently?" Funny thing is, there is usually an easier way if we're open to it, and she is ALWAYS finding a way.

*Are their additional people or resources available to you to make this job easier and lighten the load?
*How can I empower those around me to step up and be more, do more than they would normally do?
* What haven't I thought of yet?
* How can I duplicate myself?
* What other options ARE available?

CHOICE #4 - ALIGN with your original CHOICE and DECIDE to ENJOY it or at the very least ACCEPT it. FIND SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR CHOICE - the challenge of it, working with a team, using your creativity, the feeling of accomplishment when the task is complete, knowing you're a person of your word, learning and growth opportunities, or simply CHOOSING to follow through and give your best. I'm not suggesting you PRETEND, or that this is always EASY. I am suggesting that even in the most challenging of situations there is ALWAYS a way to RE-FRAME things within yourself and re-align with CHOICE if you're open to that possibility. Focus on what excited you about the project in the first place. Focus on what following through with your choice will give you.

SOULFUL CHALLENGE: The next time you feel, "I don't have a choice"….STOP yourself. Do you really want to remain in RESISTANCE to your choice? Do you need to make a new agreement? What alternative resources are available? How can you align, ENJOY or accept your original choice with fresh eyes? Challenge yourself to live from a place of CHOICE. It's empowering.

Author's Bio: 

Mary Allen has been a respected Professional Life Coach for over five years, and has authored the engaging online newsletter Soulfully Living since 2002. Mary inspires readers to experience a deeper level of fulfillment in their lives through her unique and empowering articles. Her extensive depth of knowledge, years of coaching experience, combined with her authentic connection to her readers, allow her to effectively integrate and communicate concepts in a refreshing and powerful manner. Mary is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Psychology. She is a certified professionally through The Coaches Training Institute as a CPCC, and The International Coach Federation as a PCC. She enjoys a full coaching practice working with individuals who share a commitment to success and inner fulfillment. Mary is also the author of the acclaimed eCourse program Living in Choice. For more information about Mary Allen, visit http://www.lifecoachmary.com.