You Are Your Choices

We’ve discussed taking charge of our alcohol consumption, and we’ve talked about Accountability. The two subjects have a lot in common, especially when it comes to wellness. The quality of life we observe is influenced by our discipline. Our discipline is what happens when we put our decision-making skills to work.

It occurred to me recently that there are at least three personality types that can change the temperature of a room just by being there: Clergy, Law Enforcement, and Fitness Professionals. All three characters embrace a discipline and abide by cause-and-effect guidelines. When we’re in a social setting and any one of those three types of people show up, our behavior is shaped. With a member of the clergy in the room, we may watch our language a little more, or steer our conversations toward wholesome themes. In the presence of Law Enforcement, we tend to make sure every gesture demonstrates that we walk the line. Then there’s the Fitness Professional. If you’re out for dinner with friends, and they introduce you to someone new, who happens to be a personal trainer, does it impact how you decide to order your meal? I see it all the time. People find out what I do for a living and either change their order to a healthier option or verbally justify their selection. Whatever the case, they made their decision with me in mind. What I find interesting about the impact these three character-types have is that none of them asked anyone to be anything but themselves. People change, voluntarily, to abide by the most disciplined person in the room.

Knowing that, we have to identify ourselves in those scenarios. Who are you in the room? What are you doing to ensure you’re making choices that are conducive to your desired goals?

My mom makes the best banana pudding in the world. Her recipe is famous in our community. So much so that my friends will request a batch of it when they find out I’m going to visit my folks. You can imagine how hard it was for me to tell her I didn’t want any. As much as I love it, she never makes me just a small serving. I was coming home with a vat of banana pudding. Do you know what you do with a vat of banana pudding? You eat it. So, I had to convince my mom to stop tempting me. Believe me, it was no small task, but returning from a visit without any guilt has made it worth it. Think about your work and social environments. Do you have a co-worker who never goes out for lunch? Do you have a friend that just doesn’t seem to drink, even when everyone else is enjoying a glass of wine? Have you noticed that folks have stopped asking them? If you know the truth about someone, you tend to conform to their standard. The brown-bagger at work didn’t ask you to stop inviting them out to eat. Instead, they set a standard through consistent behavior.

Remember when we discussed meal planning? We agreed that what we were having for dinner wasn’t decided a few minutes before we starting cooking. We said that dinner plans were to be made on the grocery list. There should be no surprises when it comes to nutrition. Even if plans change at the last minute, your state of mind should guide your decision-making. Have you tail-gated at a football game? What’s the origin of that tradition? Part of it is that folks wanted to eat and have a few beers without paying stadium food and beverage prices. So, they adapt and plan. If you know you’re going to a concert at a large arena, are you going to eat when you get there and be limited to their options at their prices? You don’t have to go that route. You could eat before you go, arrive full, and spend less money.

Most people are happy to agree with your decision. If you’ve ever seen a group of six people try to decide on a place for dinner, you’ve seen that one person with a clear voice can sway the group. So, why not be the clear voice? If you have to eat lunch at a restaurant, it’s up to you to enforce your guidelines. The good news is that most folks can find something they want at the place you’ve chosen. The same may not be true if you let someone else make the call.

It’s up to you to shape your community’s impression of you. You have to take control of the narrative so that everyone around you understands you are committed to your choices. This task is accomplished by your actions. Remember, your intentions are invisible. Most of your initial efforts are invisible. What’s most visible are your actions and your results. Results may take a while to manifest, but actions are observable right now. You may have been on a healthy journey for six months before you received any affirmation of your efforts. However, somewhere along the way, the people around you stopped offering you those morning donuts because you so regularly declined. At some point, you earned the reputation for being in charge of yourself. You became the priest, the officer, the personal trainer – and impacted a room just by being there. You must celebrate your Power even before the results are visible. We should all look forward to the moment our consistency pays off in the form of fewer frustrations and more opportunities to shape our narratives so positively.

The goal of positive contributors is to add to a situation without removing anything. Remember in our conversation about drinking, I suggested that you add a glass of water to your drinking pattern. Without insisting that you drink less alcohol, I added water to the recipe and we felt better having had less alcohol as a result. If you’re being invited to a party, offer to bring something. Then bring a great choice. We shape our reputation through our most positive actions. The steps we take far outweigh the ones we don’t.

Take control of your narrative. Recruit others to be part of your success. Be the person you need to be in every situation so that you can be the person you were meant to be wherever you are.