Want vs Should: A matter of choice

When your schedule gets blown you’re left with a dilemma: doing what you want vs doing what you should. Often, what you really feel is that you should be doing both, even though you know that isn’t possible.

Your emotions pull you in both directions. You keep looking for ways to accomplish both. Each failure increase the stress you feel. Each attempt gobbles time while getting you no closer to accomplishing anything. Who wouldn’t feel stressed?

Here’s the simple solution: choose. Instinctively you know that you can’t accomplish both what you want to do and what you should do to address whatever has disrupted your schedule, so stop fretting about it and choose…and make it a conscious choice.

Emotional choices

Far too many of the choices we make are made subconsciously based on emotions we’re experiencing. Emotional decisions are almost always bad decisions. When we’re emotional, a significant part of our mental capacity is absorbed by the emotion we’re feeling. Diminished mental capacity means we’re overlooking potential solutions for our dilemma.

You don’t have to trust me on this. You know from personal experience how often a solution appears immediately after you’ve set the problem aside. The reason the solution surfaces just as you’re walking away is that in the process of walking away, you set aside the emotions you are experiencing. Thus freeing your mind, opening it to other possibilities. 

Conscious choices

Let’s contrast conscious choices with ones made emotionally. As part of the conscious choice you acknowledge that the best course of action is to decide what to do, what you want to do or what you feel you should do.

I can tell you from personal experience that when I make a conscious choice, without emotion, I’m not only comfortable with my choice, I accomplish both more quickly than I anticipated.

For you

You may have been hoping for some examples to illustrate my point. I haven’t offered any because each example would relate to just one situation. It would be impossible to include everything that influenced the person’s choice because I’m not privy to their history…at least not a complete history. Even if I could that doesn’t mean you’d have handled the situation as they did. Your experiences, your values, what you want in life and a myriad other things would be different from those of the person in the example, consequently, it would be of little value to you.

It’s not for me to tell you what to choose. Only you can make that determination. None of us has the right to second guess your choice. Your choice will be based on what’s most important to you which means it’s the right choice for you. That’s what’s important. 

The only thing I’m suggesting is that you make the choice consciously…devoid of emotion.

One of the ways to rid yourself of the problem is to pause and remind yourself that you can’t accomplish both. Then ask yourself “Which choice is going to produce the best result based on what’s important to me?”

For our kids

When they feel torn between two choices, have them pause and ask themselves “Which choice is going to produce the best result based on what’s important to me?” As they begin to weigh the alternatives, their emotions will wane and the conscious choice they make will relieve their stress while providing them with direction. It’s a gift they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.

Final note: Resist the temptation to help them in their decision. It’s okay to ask questions that help them clarify their options as long as they don’t bias your child’s thinking. By all means, do not offer suggestions, your kids need to discover the answers on their own.

Feel free to share this blog with those you feel would benefit from this message. It’s an easy way to say “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your wisdom in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link) (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link)

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Speaking from experience, this perspective is priceless! When i think about decisions that I made that didn’t serve me well, they were typically made out of emotions!

    • Dale Furtwengler

      Bill, One of the reasons why I can share these thoughts is that I’ve made the mistakes necessary to get the insights. We learn more from our mistakes than from things that go well.

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