We all want to be in control of our own world. We want to be the one making the choices and setting the course. Even if we choose to be someone who refuses to make choices, we still demand that we get our way in choosing not to choose. Whew. The problem with so much choice is the inevitable accountability that goes along with it. For every decision we undertake, we necessarily have omitted countless other options. Although it is terrific to believe that we are the ones in the driver’s seat, it is usually way easier to be a passenger.
Mostly, we find ourselves living a life governed, perhaps even constricted, by our previous decisions. Where we go to school and work, who we marry, if and how many children we might have all become determining factors in the various trajectory of our existence. As we grow from adolescence into adulthood, the gravity of our choices becomes more apparent, as does the frivolity. We learn to invest in the long-term, appreciating that deferred gratification often leads to better outcomes. We learn that wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was right in positing that, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” While Churchill was confronting perilous military setbacks during World War II, the admonishment is a good reminder for all of us. Each day that we survive to make another, better choice is a good one.
As we extend ourselves into relationships, the choices of our children, parents, spouses and partners all serve to complicate choices. If they defer a decision, does it necessarily fall to us? If they make a bad choice, what is our obligation to pick up the slack? For choosy choosers, what are the legitimate boundaries?