Most of your obligations are actually choices

June 22, 2011

“If you say you never could do that, you certainly never will. But every one of those obligations is a choice. Getting up in the morning is a choice. Taking your kids to that game, going to work. You face hundreds of choices every day, and you just keep saying yes, yes, yes to them. And that's great, and that's what gets you through the day and gets you success. But there's also the choice to sometimes say, I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to work every day of my life.”

That’s from Kirk Horstead of BreakAway, who has taken four sabbaticals in the last 20 years. He was talking about how to take a career break — I interviewed him for my next book — but his answer struck me because it can be applied to anything. Whether you want to write a book, start your own business, have a family or take some other leap, this applies to you.

Whenever you find yourself putting off those dreams, whenever you hear “but I have to” slipping out of your own mouth, remember: most of your obligations are actually choices.

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    11 Replies to “Most of your obligations are actually choices”

    • Emily says:

      Great post and always a good reminder. Tempted to print this out and leave it under windshield wipers. >:()
      Though I suppose just walking around yelling “Own it! OWN YOUR CHOICE! Own it or shut the F up” would be more environmentally friendly.

    • Kirk says:

      Hey, who babbled all that hoo-ha about CHOICE? That was me? Shucks, you must have caught me on a particularly sunny day! Today, it’s cloudy (again). Summer refuses to show her shiny face. And like most of us, I sit at the screen and ponder what it all means, what else I’d rather be doing. Like…kayaking. But, you mean, maybe there IS a choice? Hmmm. My office is 8′ from the water…the kayak is even closer. It’s gray, but not storming (for a change). Hey, great post! Thanks for the inspiration! I CHOOSE to go kayaking–right now! See ya! *kirk

    • I love it! It’s so true. I choose to be 29, still working a low paid part-time job and chasing my dream of becoming an author. I choose my freedom, and getting off work at 2:45, when the sun is still shining and my laptop awaits. My younger sister thinks I’m crazy, reminding me that I don’t have benefits. And yes, my private health insurance is expensive. But no medical/dental package is worth my precious time. Leave your cubicle, leave the country, live your life!! 🙂

    • Nancy Petralia says:

      I’m a bit older than you, Alexis. (Well actually more than a bit.) But what you say gets even more important as you age. I’m continually amazed when people say to my husband and me, “I’d LOVE to do (whatever our latest adventure is), BUT…” There’s lots of good reasons…the grandkids, the bridge tournament, the kids’ schedules, the spouse who isn’t interested, etc. But it is a choice. Sometimes a responsible one vs. frivolous one. Sometimes a safe one rather than an adventurous one. A practical one, a generous one, or a lazy one. But a CHOICE.

      We made a decision (read choice) several years ago to stop dreaming of doing difficult things and start doing them. We started an ecology awareness movement in our community, then wrote and funded the publication of a book about how every person can help improve it. 10,000 free copies were distributed. We moved to Italy for a year…to improve our Italian and live like locals not tourists. We never got fluent, but we learned more about America and ourselves than we’d ever thought. Our book, Not in a Tuscan Villa, will be published in a few months. Our next adventure…toss it all and live on the American road for a year. I wonder what THAT will teach us? The other night at dinner one of our friends said, “You two just make things happen.” There was a longing in her voice.

      One thing about getting older–you see the timeline ending. There are plenty of things I wish I’d done earlier in life. It makes me treasure every opportunity I still have. It energizes our lives and keeps us young.

      And what do I tell people, especially young ones? Do it NOW. Choose to experience all you can. Big or small, live your dreams. Finding a way is often as simple as deciding to try. There’ll be plenty of time for responsibility…and when you choose that, you’ll do so willingly.

    • Cila says:

      Yes yes and yes! It is so easy to forget that everything we do is a choice — and then to slip into a spiral of excuses, what ifs, and even self-pity. We allow ourselves to feel helpless far too often. I’ve been kicking my heels up about it over on my blog too:

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