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Demystifying the Art of Decision Making

"This Might Make You Stop Short" by Amy Eliza Wong, Life Coach in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area

Often I find that whatever theme percolates and emerges in my personal and professional life, it’s usually worth distilling into an article. For the past couple of years, that happened regularly enough to offer an article every two weeks. Now that I’m traveling all over the continent to coach others, I haven’t had the chance to translate these themes as regularly. Hopefully, that will change now that summer is here!

This article’s theme has haunted me over the past few weeks. Its lingering awareness finally prompted me to sit down and pump this out. If, at the very least, for ME to get clear on how profound and important this message is.

A few weeks ago, I got a seemingly random text from my dear friend and mentor, Jerzy Gregorek. Jerzy is one of the most fascinating, wise, intimidating, and loving people I’ve come to know. Jerzy and his wife, Aniela Gregorek, are world weightlifting champions, founded The Happy Body, and are doing tremendously good work in the world.

Jerzy’s text to me was only a link to a Tim Ferris’ TED talk – on why we should define our fears instead of our goals.

Running in various directions with 40 things on my mind, I was curious as to why he sent me this link – especially since the title runs counter to my message and philosophy. Curious, but not curious enough to take action, I made a note to check it out when I had a moment.

A week later, I found myself cleaning up outstanding texts while commuting on BART and came across Jerzy’s text. Not particularly motivated to dive in I clicked on it anyway, at least to find out why Jerzy sent it to me. 13 minutes? I guess I had 13 minutes to spare.

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t overwhelmingly inspired by the message until Ferriss discussed stoicism, a trait that extremely successful people share.

Now, I LOVE distinctions – concepts, frameworks, models, and terms – that make the invisible visible. While extremely familiar with “stoic” as a quality of being I sometimes feel, never had I stopped to think about it as an active practice I choose. Simply because it hadn’t been brought up in my awareness in this way before.

“Stoicism” wasn’t necessarily what hooked me in though. A term is only a term unless it defines a whole new perspective and set of operating principles for something meaningful.

It was when Ferriss described reaching out to his friend (and admittedly one of the most stoic people on the planet he’d come to know), Jerzy Gregorek, to learn more about stoicism from his perspective that I had a big heart-opening moment.

Something that Jerzy has offered me in the past, he offered then to Ferriss, and now it goes to you (unless you just watched Ferriss’ talk or know Jerzy well too:)

Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.

Stop for a moment and let that sink in.

How powerful and true is this?? It’s scary and liberating all at once. Harnessing this one idea at every one of life’s trying choice points can be the difference between “success” or not. It’s an idea that compels one towards authenticity, honesty, and integrity.

IF you can remember to affirm this.

Not always we are going to be on the straight and narrow. Not always we are going to make decisions from authenticity or integrity. Not always will we have the resources to make the hard choices. And like a trusted best friend, life never fails to remind us how costly that can be.

At life’s choice points we have to ask ourselves, “Is what I’m choosing right now – while relieving, while invigorating, while justified – worth the trajectory it sets me on? Is it really the path of least resistance?”

Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life. 

To live by this requires foresight to see that the hard choices are always worth it – worth the inner strength and resolve it takes to:

  1. Exercise moment-to-moment awareness and harness every choice point (this alone is a significant life practice!)
  2. Stand for authenticity and envision what’s REALLY wanted, not what’s wanted at the moment
  3. Live in integrity and focus on the longterm “win” in the face of discipline/effort/hardship/compromise/sacrifice/brute force

As humans, we live extremely complex lives operating for extremely complex reasons. Every moment is wrought with countless decisions and we often sail through them without batting an eye. It’s when the tug, the pull, the heavy awareness of the ensuing effort that our larger all-seeing Self reminds us that there’s a bigger horizon beyond the immediate relief.

What say you? How do you frame the hard choices? What keeps you from making them? What has the pay-off been? How about the cost? What shifts in your perception or life practices could support you in living the “easy life?” No way do I have this figured out, but I sure am trying. Leave me a comment below if you’d like to share with us how you are too!

Cheers to hard choices,

Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in San Francisco and Sacramento, CA committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.