Our daily choices
I drove into the spacious parking lot so eager to make our morning appointment. About three weeks earlier, our family had been booked to meet with our family physician for the very first time. The receptionist had gotten us excited about our new doctor and so we really looked forward to meeting him. We looked around for a good parking spot and eventually found one; it was directly in front of the family clinic teaching center, we couldn’t have found a better spot!
Quickly, we all scurried out of the van into the reception area and started our pre-appointment checks. Within a couple of minutes, we were in one of the examination rooms waiting for our doctor. I had a driving test that morning as well and so I proceeded to be the first to get examined, happily I came out clean. I politely excused myself, headed out with the plan to come back to pick the rest of the family after my road test. I don’t believe I spent more than about thirty five minutes in the family clinic before I left.
I very much looked forward to completing the road test so I could finally have my Albertan drivers license. And so with greater excitement, I ignited the engine and started to back out of the lot when I noticed a blue slip under my wiper blade. I initially ignored it thinking it was one of those ads that marketers randomly left on cars. But there was this gut feeling that prompted me to stop and at least take a look – thank God I did. To my shock, I saw it was a parking ticket!!! What?! In a free parking lot? This couldn’t be true!
I looked at the time stamp and noticed it was just about two minutes earlier. I promptly re-parked the van, looked round to see if I could spot the officer that left that ticket on my van but I saw no one around. Then I had a light bulb moment! The ticket read the name of the clinic I just came out from and so I ran to the reception. After carefully stating my case, I asked to see the supervisor in charge of the parking lot. The lady I spoke to explained to me it was an outsourced operation and there wasn’t anyone I could speak to within the clinic. She further explained the parking procedure at the clinic and even showed me a notice on the reception wall with the same explanation. I had missed that obvious notice but seriously, I felt livid. So, even though the clinic provided a free parking, I had to print a ticket and leave on my vehicle’s dashboard? Seriously?! Why didn’t someone call my attention to this? After all, they all knew it was my first time there? Why didn’t the authorities place visible signs on the lot? It had to be their fault! So many questions raced through my mind as I stormed out of the clinic!
Guess what? As I got back into the parking lot, all of a sudden I seemed to see more parking instructions than cars! Why didn’t I see them before? All I noticed was the free parking notice but not the details. Apparently, free came at a cost but I didn’t realize it then. I was too excited entering the clinic that I missed the more than enough signs and then had to bear the consequences. It therefore comes without saying that as humans, we are free to make choices but we are certainly not free from the consequences – good or bad! Needless to say, I paid $70 fine for that infraction.
And I wished the consequence of my choice stopped at that. While I was having my road test, I kept beating myself up mentally for missing the obvious signs and having to pay that much fine for a free parking. As you can guess, I was driving on the road but I was not on the road because I unconsciously decided that wallowing in self pity while having a driving test was higher priority – another bad choice that I made without even giving it a thought. It came with its own consequence too – I drove 72km/hr in a 50 zone. It was my examiner that jolted me back to reality with his question, “I’m sorry but are you aware of the speed limit in this area?” Your guess is as good as mine – I failed that driving test simply because I went beyond the speed limit. I know because my total demerit was less than 40 but over-speeding was an unpardonable offence in a driving test. For whatever reason, I subsequently became excellent at multiplying my failures because I only ended up passing my road test on the fourth attempt! How far reaching can a simple choice of using a free parking without understanding the required details be? What if I had chosen to look around, be more aware and learn to ask question when I am in an unfamiliar terrain instead of assuming?
It has been said that the average person makes up to 35,000 decisions a day. Making a choice involves decision making. I have asked myself whether I actively make up to such a huge number of decisions in any given day and I don’t ever remember doing so even on a very busy day. Most people are even too busy to count the number of decisions they make daily but very often most of us don’t remember making such a huge number of decisions as well. This implies that most decisions we make are unconscious even though our minds are actively making such decisions. It is scary that we bear the consequences of such unconscious decisions especially when the results go south. And when you realize we are all connected to the next person one way or the other, it becomes even more scary that we could get people within our network or reach into some problem when we make unwise decisions. Take a moment to think about this. Susan Perry, a Minnesota-based medical and science writer with a special interest in neuroscience once said, “decision-making is such a seamless brain process that we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we may look back and wonder, “Why did I choose that option?””
So what are the processes involved in making these unconscious but life impacting choices? I bet this is an interesting question that we could delve into another day but for today, my aim with this article is to remind us that our everyday mundane choices impact us in more ways than we realize hence we need to learn to make better choices.
Therefore, let us be more intentional about the choices we make on a daily basis. No one fails or succeeds suddenly. Success or failure is always the result of an incremental series of choices, decisions and actions taken or not taken. No one is a product of circumstances. Everyone is a product of choices and decisions made or not made. And if we must change our life or our situation or achieve that goal that we most earnestly seek after then we must change what we do daily. Hear Dr. John C. Maxwell talk about this, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine“. And since we obviously make more choices and decisions than we actually act, let us give proper attention to the choices and decisions we make so that our lives and situations can end up where we want. Becoming a better decision maker is more important than executing the decisions we make. And when we make better choices and decisions, we become bigger and better on the inside and this will ultimately result in the physical and glamorous achievement that we seek. This is one of the reasons why decision makers are more respected and probably earn more money than those who execute the decisions.
Rank among the great, make better choices going forward.