One Better Choice
What are three goals you have for this semester? This might be a simple question for some, but I want you to take a moment and write down the three things that, at the end of this semester, you can say you accomplished.
To achieve these goals, like any that are truly meaningful, it will require you to make changes in your life. This process seems daunting—I work with students who admit, often reluctantly, how hard it is to make the necessary adaptations to their life, their relationships, and their balance that are required to achieve their goals.
I am reminded of an important quote—forgive me if you have heard it before. “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” This might seem tired and cliché, but there is a lot of truth in it. Imagine if your goal were to run a marathon. Few people could lace up a set of running shoes and go out and run 26.2 miles without months of preparation. In order to achieve this goal, you would need to make shifts in your daily life. You would make choices about sleep, eating, stretching, etc., and each of those would be pointed toward the goal of completing the race. The finish line doesn’t magically appear for anyone.
All too often we become creatures of habit. Sometimes those habits can be positive, but often they are counterproductive. I am convinced that people fail to reach their New Year’s resolutions not because of a lack of desire, but because they haven’t planned on how to make the small changes in their life in order to meet them. The goal of “being healthier” is common, but that means more than just a magical number on a scale. It means a series of choices about nutrition, exercise and rest that cannot be accomplished overnight.
Goals are difficult, and they require you to take meaningful steps. More importantly, they also require you to make a series of choices. It is critical to understand that choices and options are not the same, in this context. An option is simple—would you like coffee or tea, a window or aisle seat, what to watch on television. Deciding between these options will not directly influence your ability to achieve your goals.
Choices are different.
I want you to consider an important question. How much closer to your goals would you be if you made one better choice each day?
Seems simple, doesn’t it? Throughout the course of our day, we are presented with dozens of decisions, each of which allows us the opportunity to demonstrate what we prioritize. Here are some examples of questions you might ask that will lead you to your “one better choice” each day:
1) Is the latest notification on my phone really worth interrupting my studying?
2) If I got one more hour of sleep tonight, how much more-prepared would I be for my day tomorrow?
3) What would happen if I joined the student organization I saw a flier for today?
These questions are ones that get to the heart of prioritization and goal achievement. If you choose to not check your latest notification, might you be practicing the type of focus that might come in handy later this semester when the “crunch” is upon you? Would getting that extra hour of sleep help not only tomorrow, but in developing a habit that will help you when you get stressed? What about joining that organization? Is prioritizing experiences and establishing a new network on campus part of your semester goals?
So, I want you to go back to that list I asked you to create. Think about the three goals that you set for yourself and start developing a plan to meet them. What choice will you make today, tomorrow and the next day that will get you to the finish line?
Start with one better choice.