Overwhelming Choice


By Rick Fullerton
| Bio


What
fascinates me most at the moment is my increasing interest in
‘everything’. Where in decades past I was consumed by my job, my
family, or my professional pursuits, it seems now that my attention is
drawn to all manner of things. As a result, I am considering how I make
appropriate choices.

On reflection, I see several factors that contribute to this expanding range of interests:

  • As a self-employed and seasoned professional, much of my time is unstructured
  • The more I learn, the more I see connections and linkages with other areas
  • Being encouraged to live ‘in the moment’ legitimizes attending to whatever is present
  • I have earned the right to pursue “what interests me”, not what I should do  
  • Media and technology constantly remind me of new and important areas to explore
  • The clock is ticking.

So
for me (as for others), life occurs as this continuing stream of
experiences where we respond to what shows up for us and what interests
us moment to moment within the structures we find ourselves. The
challenge, it seems, is to gain a different perspective and
relationship with what’s happening.

To complicate things
further, along with the barrage of information and options we
experience in our daily lives, we have an embodied set of messages
about how we are to respond. For example, consider the typical messages
parents convey to their children:

  • “You can be anything you choose.”
  • “The possibilities are endless.”
  • “All you have to do is try.” 

And
on top of all this, the current competition for our commitment is
intense: buy this, learn that, protect us, defeat them, rescue whales,
save lives, stop hunger, exercise more, conserve energy, love
neighbours. Yikes!

Let’s zero in on a specific example. This
week I was asked to take on two different volunteer roles, one as a
mentor of a young professional and the other as Board member of the
professional association. Like many decisions, this was not about good
and bad. Rather, it required weighing relative positives. Both requests
represented valuable contributions that I would be pleased to make. At
the same time, to take on both would strain my ability to meet other
commitments to my family, my clients and myself.

So, what do we
do when faced with increasing awareness of seemingly infinite need and
infinite choice? It is tempting to offer a simple answer like:

  • “Do what you can.”
  • “Start where you are.”
  • “Follow your heart”.

These are fine mottos to follow. In practice, though, what really matters may be just recognizing what’s happening and that active choice is a possibility.

It
is the interruption of the automatic, unexamined re-action that allows
each of us to reflect on who we are, what is important to us, and, in
turn, to make the best choice. In my case, I accepted the Board
position.

 

 

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