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How to Live by Choice (Even When You Don’t Think You Have One)

living by choice

You do a lot of things because you have to, not really because you want to.

Whenever something comes up you make the decision that you think is right. The one that you feel the pressure to do.

Think of how many times you’ve reluctantly done something. You responded with a deep sigh, an eye roll and “okay, fine.”

It wasn’t okay and far from fine but you sucked it up and went with the flow.

And it’s really no different when it comes to your dreams. You don’t bother to make goals for them because you don’t feel like you have the option to carry them out.

Instead they just sit in the back of your mind as wishful thoughts of what could be, if maybe you won the lotto or got a huge inheritance. You know something that would allow you the freedom to do whatever you wanted.

But outside of your wishful thoughts, you have to do what you have to do and you cannot do anything else.

It’s like you don’t even have real options, just one that you need to do and another that barely exists.

But you do have the ability to choose, you just don’t see it.

Because You Have To

When you make these pressure motivated choices you do it thinking that its the right thing to do for the whole situation.

You’re just a little piece in the puzzle so it doesn’t really matter that it might not be right for you. It’s for the greater good, so you’ll just eat this one.

And that’s fine, and even admirable every now and then, but it’s happening a lot now.

These chance encounters just keep popping up. Just one after another and another. It’s like all you do now is put out fires, other people’s fires.

You’re a one man fire crew. You’re so qualified that you could add this skill to your resume.

It’s just gotten so out of control that now these chance encounters are dictating the way you live your life. You’re rearranging your own life, working around this and canceling plans to tend these “because I have to” situations.

But do you really have to, or is the pressure just getting to you?

You get stuck living your life this way, by chance, because you feel like you don’t have a choice in the matter.

You may even acknowledge that there is another option but you wouldn’t dare choose it. I mean the whole thing wouldn’t have even fallen in your lap if the other option was a real, viable choice.

So you do it, with disdain and resentment.

But this is certainly no way to live your life. It doesn’t even put you in the position to enjoy it.

Living By Choice

Your choices determine the direction your life is going in, so if you’re not making them you’re not dictating your life.

Living by chance, not consciously calling the shots is like letting a taxi drive you around, thinking it’ll take you to your destination without proper direction. You’re just going to end up nowhere in particular.

In fact, you’ll actually be very far from where you want to be.

In order to be the shot caller in your life and have a chance at enjoying it you have to realize that you have choices (no matter how good or bad they are) and make your selections consciously.

Don’t just do things to take the weight off of someone else’s shoulders when you can barely carry the load yourself. Think about how it’s going to impact you.

Others do not have to get on easy street at your expense.

At some point you have to make choices that are good for you and your future.

If you don’t start to live by choice you’ll just continue on putting out fires and tolerating life instead of enjoying it.

I know it doesn’t sound so easy, especially since the pressure will still be there, but trust me I walked this road before.

When I was younger I had a string of jobs I hated. I couldn’t seem to get a decent job that didn’t have me contemplating driving back home after parking my car in the lot.

Actually, I think I would have enjoyed sitting in my car for 8 hours, leaned back in the driver’s seat and staring at the roof compared to going in.

Then years after dreading Monday mornings (I literally had to pace myself Sunday evenings), I broke the cycle and made consciously choices to stay on track, which was getting a better job. Suddenly I didn’t have to stay where I was anymore.

What I had to do first was reconnect with what I wanted. I was always afraid of getting sucked into a job that sound good in the interview but would ultimately end up like all the rest, dreadful.

But I couldn’t figure out a way to decipher what I wanted when glancing over the potential jobs because I didn’t clearly know what I wanted. I was only very clear on how I didn’t want to feel.

So then I discovered the specific things that I wanted for my next job. I focused on things like it not being too demanding, stressful or having to work odd shifts. This clarification made it easier to weed out all the options that didn’t fit that model.

That was basically my goal to go after. When I was looking that is.

I found that my other issue was I kind of expected it to fall into my lap.

But you can’t find a new job if you’re not looking. And I wasn’t looking because I was letting other chance situations get in the way of what I wanted to accomplish.

I was constantly putting out fires and taking on other people’s responsibilities while all neglecting myself. They got to do what they wanted but I was stuck doing what seemed like what I had to do, the dirty work.

I was trying to do the right thing, but really I was being taken advantage of.

While life does happen, and important things pop up, you have to learn to maneuver and get back to carrying out your goals.

What’s the easiest way to make that happen? Setting goals and having a plan for them.

It was easy to stay stuck in the same place with little progress. And get frustrated with the whole process when you don’t have an actionable plan.

There’s probably nothing harder and more overwhelming than trying to carry out an idea without setting up steps for yourself.

Once you have those next steps in place you have to be consistent in carrying them out.

When I was consistent about working on my plan I made more progress. No more wasting time checking out old job ads for positions that were filled and being disappointed.

And it left little time to make choices that didn’t help me grow.

With these changes I realized that I could turn things around for myself and I was not limited to living by chance. I actually had a choice on the direction that my life went in and what I spent my time on.

And all I had to do was figure out what I wanted, commit to working on it, set goals for it and consistently work on that plan. Suddenly I was living by choice and I was pleased.

I was dictating my life, not outside forces. I was living for me and not reluctantly doing that others wanted me to.

Now You’re Calling The Shots

The truth of the matter is you have choices. And your choices should not be made to please others or under pressure because those will be the forces that dictate your life.

It’s your life so you should be the one calling the shots.

Making conscious choices will allow you to enjoy the life you created. You see that, it’ll also put you in a place where you can actually create a great life!

Having to deal with random situations that you somehow get in and putting out fires will be a thing of the past.

You can finally hang up your fireman’s suit and actually live.


Tell me…

What’s dictating your life, chance or conscious decisions?



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Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!

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  • ‘You have the ability to choose, you just don’t see it.’

    I can so relate to this statement along with the general sentiments of this post. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently in the context of relationships; establishing certain boundaries in terms of how responsible I make myself for the needs of others.

    My habit has often been to go too far in seeking to meet other’s needs, to the point I end up burning myself out. So learning to properly manage people’s expectations and acquainting myself with the use of the word ‘no’, has been really very tricky. I’m having to learn a new (and more sustainable) way to think; which can be a real challenge when you’ve spent so much of your life going about things a different way.

    • Lea

      I too have gone through that reassessment in the last few years. Sometimes we have a tendency of taking on more than we should because we feel obligated. It’s a wonderful thing if you can pull it off, but most of the time you end up neglecting your personal needs.

      I can so relate. There have been times when I’ve put my entire like on the back burner to tend to other. It resulted in me being over worked and underappreciated. But the most immediate result was being burned out like you experienced.

      That’s very true, the switch over can be difficult but it’s so necessary. I know you’ll adapt 🙂


  • Hey Lea,

    Conscious choice is now the ruler in my life. It does not matter if I have other responsibilities. I tend to them and get back to the plan. When something happens and I have focus my attention else where. That’s cool, I do what needs to be done and get back to my plan.

    This plan is so solid now that nothing can steer me away from what I want. It’s not up for discussion, any choices I make are because of the plan. I watched a clip with Warren Buffet and he says concentrate on something you want. Don’t spread yourself thin with too many areas. Keep focused on one area. And that is what I do now. Great post Lea.

    I was with you – Sunday nights was a dread and Mondayitis certainly was a real mental illness. I know this to be true because I had it week after week. I would rather have parked my car and sat in it for eight hours doing nothing. That would have been preferable. I even made tea for others with a smile on my face – not enjoying it at all. But I enjoy how I represent myself so nobody was the wiser.

    None of that anymore. Thanks Lea.


    • Lea

      Hey Rachel,

      Very good. It can become challenging to juggle the two but it’s always important to refer back to your plan. It’s really the only way it get carried out.

      Great advice. It does get harder when you’re all over the place trying to accomplish a million things at once. You end up overwhelmed and unproductive.

      I like that, Mondayitis 🙂 Perfect word for it. Ah, I know it so well, the corporate smile. Just slap it on with nothing behind it.

      Good riddance! Thanks Rachel, you’re awesome.


  • Hey Lea,

    I was someone who would say yes to things when I didn’t want to.
    Whether I did this out of guilt or obligation, I had found myself in this situation a lot.

    Eventually I had to learn to trust my instincts – and to gain a better idea of what service was all about. It’s cool (and good idea) to help someone if you’re in a position to help them. At the same time though, you can’t give away what you don’t have either.

    We do all have choices. If there is something needed of us and we aren’t happy about it (but KNOW we should help), then so be it.

    But when we’re about to take on a responsibility that shouldn’t be ours – or will most definitely drain us if we take it on, we usually know, even if we intellectualize our way into doing it anyway.

    The gut doesn’t lie.

    • Lea

      Hey Dana,

      Great point, about not giving away what you don’t have. It especially gets pressing when you end up spreading yourself too thin.

      Very true Dana. I’ve learned the hard way to follow my gut, and it’s always right.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You’ve added some great points and I really appreciate it 🙂


  • Vee Ric

    Hello Lea.

    How are you?

    Very interesting subject you
    have written on. How very rightly you have said, in life, many of us do many
    things we do not want to – for the simple reason that we have to do them.

    We are a married couple from Mumbai, India and we started our blog, just a couple of weeks ago.

    Even we have both been in many situations, over time, where we have been forced to do things, just because we have had to do them – not because we wanted to do them. We did not have any choice.

    Rightly said again, the choice we make. Determine the direction we move in.

    Unfortunately, there are times in life, where we do not get to make a choice in what we have to do – we just have to do it, whether we like it or not. Take it or leave it – that is the choice…not much of a choice then, is it?

    Great post, loved it. Thanks for sharing.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Vee N Ric

    • Lea

      Hi Vee,

      It’s truly amazing how many things we do under duress.

      While we may not like the choices in front of us that doesn’t change the fact that they are still there. Sometimes one choice may seem like it isn’t one because it goes against what you believe in but then you just have to recall why you selected it. The point is not to live life under pressure but to be in control of your own destiny.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Enjoy the rest of the week.


      • Vee Ric

        Hello Lea.

        How are you?

        Thanks for your reply.

        Have a good day.


        Vee N Ric

        • Lea

          Hi Vee,

          I’m well I hope you are too. It was surely my pleasure to reply.

          Good day

          • Thanks a lot Lea.
            Enjoy your weekend.

          • Lea

            You’re very welcome, you as well.

      • Thanks for your reply Lea.
        Enjoy your weekend.

  • Well said Lea! A lot of people follow the crowd because it’s easier. You are so right, we always have a choice! We may not like all of the choices, but we always, always have a choice how to respond to whatever happens in our life. I especially like your comment about how you expected a better job to just fall into your lap. That is another issue for many, the gap between where they are and where they want to be looks scary and when they think about what it will take to close it, it’s just easier to stay put. The problem is the longer you do, the wider that gap becomes. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Lea

      Thanks Marquita!!

      Yes, I’ve definitely fallen victim to that paralysis. You end up become overwhelmed with all that you would have to do. And compared to doing nothing (what you’re currently doing) you end up playing it safe but its more like suffering. And as you said the gap just grows!

      Thanks for your kind comment and feedback. Much appreciated!


  • Hi Lea, That is SO true of how I am living my life – always following other people’s agendas instead of my own – and that’s even as a self-employed person. What hope is there for someone who is employed?

    I am trying to correct this by (a) adding more “me-time” into my life and (b) not immediately jumping when a client wants something done. The latter is pretty hard for me, because it’s how I was brought up in the family business.

    I’m working on it all 🙂


    • Lea

      Hi Joy,

      Good point. It all reminds me of the quote, “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs,” which is so true. If you don’t focus on your dream you’ll end up working on someone else’s.

      That’s good. I can attest to me-time, it helps me out a lot. I’d probably lose my mind if I didn’t get any. I understand, working against your norm is an uphill battle but surely worth it in the end. Just remember to be consistent in your efforts.

      Best of luck to you my friend 🙂


  • Oh boy Lea, I certainly could relate to this post. I was one of those who just accepted the job because it seemed like the right one and I needed one and the pay way good, etc. I wasn’t looking at the overall picture and I was just settling. Because of that I wasn’t ever truly happy.

    We have to decide what’s best for us, we have to make our own choices that will put us down the right road. If you’re miserable all the time then that’s never a good place to be.

    I sure appreciate your message today my friend, bravo. Thanks for sharing this and I’ll be sure to spread this baby around too.

    Hope you’ve having a great week.


    • Lea

      I know Adrienne, I’ve been in that situation myself. I think when we enter adulthood you get to caught up with new responsibilities and adjusting that you find a comfortable place and just park it there. I think at one point those kinds of jobs served a purpose but you end up staying longer than you intended.

      Nope, it isn’t. And you have to have the courage to do what makes you happy no matter how scary it seems.

      Thanks so much Adrienne, you’re a doll!

      Have a good one.


  • Stella Chiu

    Hi, Lea

    Good motivation article of right living.

    You are right .the danger of living by chance is that we will constantly live in the circle of life we don’t want to live. More importantly, we will never reach our destination.

    About one year ago, i was in a place where I need to decide whether I should go full time or part time blogging and keep working on the job that I didn’t like for cash flow. At that point, I made my choice to be full time blogger. My world became lighter and more enjoyable because the pressure was off.

    I made the choice because my goal is to excel in blogging world and to have freedom to do what I want to do. I believe it is exactly what you said to “reconnect your goal”

    It will be shared.

    Stella Chiu

    • Lea

      Hi Stella,

      Exactly. You can’t allow yourself to be a victim of circumstance and expect to be happy in the end.

      Wow. That must of been a tough decision but enjoyable at the end of it all.

      Yes, you got it. You have to know what you want to get it. It’s much easier to achieve something when you can focus on the one thing and dive deep in.

      Thanks so much


  • Hi Lea,

    When you’re the “shot caller” you don’t have to settle for what “is.” You can actually make it what you want it to be, as long as you set up those “steps” and stick to them, consistently and purposefully.

    I guess a lot of this gets back to knowing your “why”… why you work that process every single day; and being constantly reminded of that “why.”

    Nice motivation here, Lea. I think we all need to keep focused on living by choice.


    • Lea

      Hi Donna,

      Yes, exactly! Everyone should be calling the shots in their own life. It’s really the only way to be happy with it.

      The “why” is a powerful thing, as well as being aware of the fact that you’re the captin of your ship. You’re in control, whether you choose to use it or not.

      Thanks Donna!