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Choices – Own up!

November 13, 2009
Golden Guy Balancing Risk
Image by lumaxart via Flickr

I have heard it said often, when I look back on my life, I have no regrets. I know what they mean when they say that.

I have made some interesting choices in my life. And as a result, have had an interesting life so far. No regrets. Pleasure, pain, joy, sadness, wins and losses…all part of this game of choices!

And yet as I coach people. Run workshops, where we discuss breakthroughs and powerful living, I can’t help but notice the large number of people who, for want of a better word, keep blaming.

I’m stuck in this profession because my dad forced me to take up this line of work.

He said this color looked good on me.

Uncle Charlie said this was a good stock pick, so I bought it.

I could go on, but you know what I mean. We are surrounded by people like this, and as I work with them, there are times I reach a point of frustration and just want to scream and tell them to take ownership.

Allegory of choice: young woman wondering whic...
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The beginning is to take ownership of the fact that the choices you make are the choices YOU MAKE. There is advice all around you. If you seek advice on any subject, you will get advice for and against! But the final choice of which one you will opt for is made by you and you alone. NOT Uncle Charlie!

But I have also realized that there is comfort in being this way. People “externalize” responsibility because it absolves them from the failure of a particular choice. Then it’s uncle Charlie who was wrong, not I.

Sadly, there is no growth, no breakthrough in such living.

And don’t you think this is just personal, it has as much importance to business, if not more.

Company A doesn’t have a better strategy than Company B. Companies don’t have a strategy, it is the people who work for that company who do! If your competitor outdid you, it’s because your counterpart who works for the competitor made different choices!

If a business had great sales during a period, it is because someone made the right choices.

Your life is the sum total of the choices you make.

From the moment you begin to own the choices you make, you will find that you’re happier, more focussed, and regret-free. Because, if nothing else, we do understand one thing about choices, that each choice has a takeaway, a gain and a loss. And when we make a choice, we’re betting on the gain being more than the loss.

Eating healthy is a choice. Giving up smoking is a choice. So is exercise. Living with the one you love is a choice. Living in sin is, and so is living in pain.

You can always choose to walk away from anything in your life.

Image by Swamibu via Flickr

You can always choose to go back to something you left behind.

Whether or not you think you’re choosing, know this – you are.

You choose to say yes. You choose to say no. You choose to NOT say no. You choose to stay or leave and you choose to choose later!

Choose wisely. Choose consciously. Live mindfully.

Your life will be the sum total of the choices you make.

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashmeeta permalink
    September 4, 2013 2:05 am

    What differentiates us from the animal kingdom is the power of choice and yet like mortals we have fear…. Loved your article Joy . You made the right CHOICE of writing on this subject

  2. Neha Gupta permalink
    July 7, 2011 12:06 am

    Thank you for this writeup Gurprriet. I have read something so clear and assertive on this subject after long. I too struggle at my work, with friends, with closed ones to convince that life indeed “is” a sum total of choices that you make. And I do appreciate, why for many people it is difficult to embrace this completely – it is indeed comforting to have that something, which is not a part of you, responsible for all that has not worked out for you as it “should have”. And yes, not making a choice is also a choice one opts for. Life is much easier once people learn to be comfortable owning up!

  3. Pankaj Kumar Singh permalink
    July 18, 2010 11:48 am

    Good thought provoking article boss.

    My views/response/reaction:

    When people generally reach the end of their active professional life or end of growth opportunity in their careers and have no hope of coping with the rat race for the top position, say these words -“When I look back at my life, I have had no regrets”.

    Time is a great leveler, we tend to forget, reconcile with time. It ranges from days to few months to few years, depending on the incident. Hold good for all kinds of events in life – professional or personal or social – good or bad.

    I also feel, give a firm choice, each one of us would have chosen only the best, available at that point in time, to happen with us, which would have otherwise happened to someone amongst us. And the we try and seek answers and reason out why this happened to us and the benefits, again to reconsile to fate.

  4. Faiz permalink
    December 7, 2009 11:34 am

    Very True!
    Reminds me of a session i had just 20 days back with a doctor who just made me dig deep into my personal life and made me come out with thoughts i always prefered to keep within me.. and the outcome was a revelation to me….that i have always lived my life for make my parents happy i dint take my love life make relatives happy..i did something..and so many other things which i did just for others,,and at the end of it all..i am left with not the things I wanted …but with what others wanted from me !!!

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      July 7, 2011 8:02 pm

      And how are you now Faiz? Hope you have begun to change… All the best!

  5. Jane Rodrigues permalink
    November 27, 2009 5:57 pm

    Joy, I made a choice of reading this article & I have NO regrets doing that..:-) Very thought provoking & sooooooooooo true.

    “The choices I make are the choices I MAKE!!”

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 27, 2009 6:00 pm

      You should know Janie! You’ve made some very clear choices in life… Thanks for the acknowledgement!

  6. November 17, 2009 12:50 am

    Great lesson… choices take us on a new paths, each path leads us to more choices. When we own the choices we make then life is our own. When we blame others for our choice then we relinquish living the life the new path leads us to. There really are no good or bad choices each is a catalyst for change and a new path.

  7. Neetu permalink
    November 16, 2009 3:13 pm

    Hi Gurprriet, very true and so honest you have been while putting down your thoughts in black and white! Esp while you are troubleshooting to resolve ”people issues” to ensure “ego management, right career decisions…etc etc” , you do wonder why others cannot make a right choice and not crib/stop cribbing about the choices that they made in the past. Errors are made to discover the truth but at times people make errors to get into a whirlpool of errors only leading to erroneous choices. And such people then wish to absolve from their responsibilities blaming the destiny that didn’t support them to make the right choice. O’God at times I wonder how many around need a training on “ Effective Choice Management” ?People confuse spirituality with chanting prayers and so on whereas I believe people who are spiritual know what choice to make and whether they really need to make one? They don’t do things for the heck of it but do things that they have conviction for.

  8. November 16, 2009 8:35 am

    twisted buns – the proof of you the one being the consequence and the cause often is **the one common prop** that shows up in all the mishaps, regrettable things, breakups and hookups (yes, those too) from the time you were born till now is – YOU!

    and i am shamelessly going to promote your article on my blog too. ha!

    nicely put, gurpy.


    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 16, 2009 11:05 am

      Hey Raman

      You are so right…and thanks for plugging my blog! always appreciated! Will come across and read yours too…didn’t know you had one…

  9. November 14, 2009 4:57 pm

    Very nicely put Gurprriet!

    I wish to know your views on how far it’s possible to ‘trigger’ the choice of ‘owning’ the choices in any individual (As a manager/mentor/teacher/parent or a coach)?

    Until my PG, I was very much a submissive person and used to give up easily and be a ‘victim’. However, one particular incident in my college changed me completely, following which I started ‘owning’ my choices. That had happened just because of an intervention by my professor, who ‘pushed’ me to make a public performance. I came out as a winner and this single event changed me totally! Ofcourse, subconsiously, I chose to listen to my professor, but that winning shot was a trigger that transformed me. As a coach, you must have used such triggers, do share those if possible!


    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 16, 2009 11:07 am

      Your Prof showed you the only way there is, Manpreet…confront your fears. Whatever you’re afraid of…make a list and then go out and confront them…nothing like it!

  10. Deepak Chaudhury permalink
    November 13, 2009 8:30 pm

    This is true, and people who have always have taken ownership of their choices do understand this better. I will say a simple fact about our lives, put in the simplest way. Nicely put Gurpriet.

  11. Sanjay Gupta permalink
    November 13, 2009 12:14 pm

    Wonderfully put by Gurprriet,Life is really all about making the right choices and i feel that even deciding “not to make a choice” is a choice initself.People being the basis of success and strategy also applies perfectly.

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 13, 2009 4:51 pm

      Thanks Sanjay!

  12. November 13, 2009 11:58 am

    Great post!!

    A very reflective piece and it reflects the fact we are responsible for the life we lead which inturn depends on the choices we make.

    It also touches the unfortunate truth,most don’t take responsibility of the situation,decisions,relationships or circumstances and at the end the life we lead.

    Life becomes worth and fun when we start enjoying the game of ‘choices’and more so if we can start viewing it as a spectator.

    Keep writing such great pieces Sirjee!

  13. November 13, 2009 11:22 am

    Sure Joy. And I think it is an evolutionary journey for most of us when we start looking inward rather than outside. But I wonder why do we externalize so easily? Could it be an instinctive reaction with an intent to survive? Isn’t externalizing a symptom of defense? Why do we get defensive? Could it also be that many of us struggle with ‘accepting’ some of the uncertainties that get thrown our way?

    Life is about choices and in many cases chances that we take and the outcome of our choices may not always make us ‘look good’. So when we externalize, are we trying to ‘look good’ despite the fact that we aren’t ‘looking good’? 🙂

  14. November 13, 2009 8:47 am

    Sometimes I really wonder .. the choices we make .. are those really the choices or lack of options. When one falls in love is it really a choice s/he makes or a natural phenomenon .. same with children, friends, parents .. Just another POV!

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 13, 2009 11:11 am

      What you choose to do when you fall in love, is a choice..go forth boldly, or keep desiring from afar…
      When you inherit, parents, children, problems, teams at work….how you choose to respond to those people and those situations, those are the choices…
      The difference between externalizing and taking ownership… choices!

  15. November 13, 2009 7:01 am

    Great piece there. It makes one reflect and also reflects on so many of us!


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