Activity 16 – 30 days of choice

I had planned to do this activity a lot later in the schedule, but I’ve had to make a few changes around my original plan. This has been partly to do with a few activities that I decided not to do, a few delays in other projects that mean I’m not ready for a couple of activities, but mainly this month it was due to not wanting to do a particular activity for my birthday.

The talks
There are 3 talks that I am using for 30 days of choice. They are Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success, Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice and Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing. These are three very intriguing talks about how we make our choices, how we feel about the choices we make and how we are swayed by very irrational aspects of our choices.

The challenge
There are so many decisions that we make every day and in each of those decisions we usually have a number of choices available to us. Some of these are seemingly inconsequential, what to have for lunch or what to wear to work; others will have a more lasting impact, like choosing your phone carrier or where to go on holidays. The last group are the life changing decisions, like your career and relationships.

There are a number of aspects to the challenge for these 30 days. Firstly, it is about understanding what success means to me and to think about making choices to reach that success. This is from Alain de Botton and it also requires me to stop judging myself against others, envying their achievements and judging their failures.

The second part of the challenge relates to Barry Schwartz and it is about lowering my expectations and limiting my choices for the month. The aim of this is to improve my feelings of satisfaction with my choices. Related to this is being more aware of the options that are available to me and what might be influencing my decision making, which is from Sheena Iyengar.

The activity
This should hopefully be a more tangible activity for me, since it is like remembering – a lot more internal. Maybe it is the introvert in me, but the activities that don’t rely on others (or my interaction with others) seem to come more easily.

The activity itself will include:

  • going back to the work around my Why and spending some time thinking about what success really means for me
  • being aware of any time that I am judging myself against others achievements and failures, rather than judging myself against what I want from my life
  • limiting my choices over the 30 days, wherever possible, to lessen the impact of opportunity costs (relating to what I am missing because of the choice I made)
  • being aware that there is unlikely to be a perfect choice, so I can manage my escalation of expectations (related to that feeling that if there are 50 to choose from one must be perfect for me)
  • taking time to focus on all of the aspects of my decisions and the irrelevant aspects that might be influencing my choices.
I’m looking forward to really putting a magnifying glass over some of these choices in my life. If I can become clearer in my decision making and experience less buyers remorse about things in my life that would make me very happy. If I come up with a better definition of what success looks like for me so I can remove some of the envy and judgement from my life I will be ecstatic.
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