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You always have a choice

Eighteen years ago this week, I had just finished my undergraduate degree and was newly single for the first time in my adult life. I had a plan, I was supposed to continue my studies, get a Phd and go into academic research. However, all that changed when I made the decision to kiss someone 36 hours before leaving for home.

Sometimes it seems that one, small action started a chain of events that changed my life forever. Instead of a Phd and an academic career, I got married and gained a wife and two children and eventually retrained as a counsellor. Of course, it wasn’t just that one action that led me here, at each point in our relationship I made a choice.

I chose to book a holiday with her after uni finished so we could have a summer fling.

I chose to continue a long-distance relationship.

I chose to move back to Cheshire so we could live together.

I chose to exchange rings and make a commitment to each other.

I chose to enter a civil partnership.

I chose to convert the civil partnership to a marriage.

I chose to stay.

Through every part of our relationship, I have chosen to stay and to take actions that sustain it. In fact, we are just as likely to say: ‘I choose you’ as ‘I love you’, because our relationship like all others is a choice. Sometimes staying was the easy choice and sometimes it was the hard one and required work.

Sometimes we forget that continuing with something is just as much a choice as changing it is. What is important is that we are conscious of the choices we make, that we check in with ourselves and are honest about what is right for us. To do this, we have to be open to change so that we can see the possibilities and opportunities as they present themselves. If I had been fixed in my plan to become an academic, I would have missed out on the opportunity to make the choices that have led me to where I am now.

This can be applied to all aspects of our lives, the choice to stay in a job that is unsatisfying, to get up early to exercise, to meet up with friends, to allow yourself time to relax. If the choices you are currently making are not giving you the life you want, then maybe it’s time to think about making a different choice. The choices are not always easy, and won’t always be the exact ones we want, but the important thing is to remember that they are yours to make.

Are there any choices you would like to make differently?

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