I just woke up from a dream where I found myself saying this to someone. It’s a bit random – as my dreams always seem to be – but from what I remember, here it goes:
I had purchased some new smart watch from some drugstore and decided to give it a try, but leaving the packaging intact and the receipt in the box and in my car, in case I didn’t like it. Wearing it to work, I walked around the office and came to find that the day’s meetings hadn’t started yet. The office was like school, where there were classes to attend and meetings to go to, but not like any one job I’ve had in real live (remember, this is a dream). I started following my small group to one of the meeting/classrooms and we took the elevator to a floor that took us to a foyer out by the courtyard and parking lot. One by one, the supervisor took each person outside for a 1-on-1 performance meeting. I took the opportunity to go to my car and retrieve my smartwatch box and receipt so I could return it – it really wasn’t all that great for the price. As I stood back inside, waiting for my turn with the supervisor, a co-worker was telling me how he wasn’t happy doing the work she was doing. I told her that I knew how she felt because I, too, hadn’t been feeling especially valued of late because the work I was doing was both insignificant and uninteresting. Apparently, this was a job I tried to quit on 3 separate occasions. It was my turn to walk outside with the supervisor. He said to me that I haven’t been productive and that I needed to go to training and I wasn’t good enough to have my job. I told him, “You know, I’ve tried to quit this job 3 different times already.” The supervisor replied, “You’re not good enough, you have a decision to make.” My reply came suddenly, “No, I don’t. I made my decision a long time ago, I just didn’t realize it until now. I’m done.” On the walk back, I noticed a smoker hovering near a trash can, thinking about picking up one of the still-smokeable butts – I’ve seen homeless people do this – she decided to quit smoking just then. As I neared the door, I saw a friend standing outside looking across the parking lot at a liquor store, eyeing it as if to go there. Because he was a recovering alcoholic, as I walked by him, I commented, “When you’ve made your choice, that’s it. It’s when you still have a choice is when it matters, Jim!” (apparently, his name was Jim – for the record, I don’t have any recovering alcoholic friends named Jim). Jim turned and walked back inside behind me. I came back inside to find my co-worker waiting for me. “How did it go?” he asked. “I quit,” I replied, “It was time. When you’ve made your choice, that’s it. It’s when you still have a choice is when it matters.” I started writing my co-worker a letter with this story about choices…
A purchased smart watch, trying to decide to keep it.
Walking in a Parking lot.
A Job, trying to quit 3 times and finally leaving.
A Smoker, who tried to pick up a cigarette.
An Alcoholic, who thought about walking to the bar.
…and that’s when I woke up, these words still ringing in my head:
When you’ve made your choice, that’s it. It’s when you still have a choice is when it matters.
It’s an interesting truth here, finding its way into words from a dream. What’s interesting is that when it comes to choices, it’s just as important and impactful to have made one as it is to still have one. While I’m not suggesting that you’re forever locked into a choice you’ve made, I am saying that when you’ve either set your mind to making one or, in some cases, come to realize that you already have, the other options that once were are virtually gone and you should feel great about the strength of your decision because you made it. Yes, we’re human and can be wrong, but that’s not the point. Take the smoker who decides to quit – that’s no easy feat – but the person deciding can override his biology and psychology because of a choice. Or the person who decides to leave a job they hate – again, no easy choice – but once the mind is made, it’s easy from there. “When you’ve made your choice, that’s it.”
On the other hand, the mere state of having choices is also important. Take the former alcoholic in the dream, who has both made the choice to stop drinking but ironically and paradoxically still has the choice to drink. As he’s standing there, staring at the liquor store across the parking lot, he still has a choice to make: the active choice to choose either to drink, or affirming the choice he made before: not to drink.
You always have choices. Be both confident and have strength in those you’ve made, because after the decision, it’s done and the act of making it is, in and of itself, powerful. At the same time, realize that having choices is also a powerful position, the power to select your direction, to guide your story…to choose your destiny.