December 10, 2018

Be Grounded in Your Choices

Be grounded in your choices. We make choices all day long. It is estimated that we make 35,000 choices a day . But each and every day there are a precious few choices we make that largely determine the course and trajectory of our lives.

Columbia University researcher Sheena Iyengar found that out of these 35,000 choices, we get bogged down by as many as 70 decisions a day. When you are grounded in your choices you’ll use these 70 choices to maximize your potential for growing your influence, increasing your impact and expanding your contribution. 

Be grounded in your choices is “Principle #5”  of impact, influence and contribution

Six Principles for Influence, Impact and Contribution


  1. Humble in your aspirations.
  2. Gracious in your victories.
  3. Resilient in your failings.
  4. Visionary in your perspective.
  5. Grounded in your choices.
  6. Persistent in your purpose.

Why Get Grounded in Your Choices?

In Dr. Iyengar’s research, she found that the sheer number of choices processed every day leads to “decision fatigue.” We do not possess an infinite supply of mental energy. Decision making expends our intellectual and emotional energy. I am sure it is not a surprise to learn that when we are tired we are more likely to make poor choices.

But what should surprise you is that even when you are fresh it does not mean you will make better choices. In fact researchers at the University of Texas found that we are more likely to focus on specific, detailed memories when making a decision rather than relying on and referencing knowledge we’ve accumulated.

Create Value Based Filters (VBF’s)

You can only conclude that we can’t trust our instincts when making those 70 critical daily decisions. What you can rely on are “Value Based Filters” which reflects who and what is most important to you.  VBF’s provide us with a reliable way to screen and evaluate critical daily choices.

I laid the foundation for “value based filters” in last week’s post, “Be Visionary in Your Perspective.” VBF’s  align your choices with what you most value most and who you most want to become. 

Focus on What You Can Control

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” Path, trajectory and outcomes are decision based—circumstances and conditions are never permanent. But too often times, we allow use our circumstances to construct a mental prison cell that falsely restrains us from growing our influence, increasing our impact and expanding our contribution.

One of the greatest threats to our mental health and well being is letting things we can’t control determine whether the investment in a relationship or the pursuit of a dream is or was worth it or not.

We consistently own the decision rights over three things—our attitude, effort and response to adversity. I know you’ve heard this countless times, so have I. Let's not lose one precious moment being falsely victimized by what we cannot control.

The Danger of Not Choosing Well

Choosing well is not easy. In fact, Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, researcher and best-selling author, has shown the increasing number of choices and options available to us can negatively impact our choices and performance. 

Schwartz concludes that the volume and complexity of choices leads us to:

  • Opt for the same old thing as a way to avoid facing unlimited options. 
  • Rely on external filters rather than on our own judgment. 
  • Become more passive in our participation in life. 

No one wants to claim these as the defaults for their life! Choosing well insulates us from feeling beaten, defeated and hopeless.

Two Powerful Value Based Filters

Too often we think we need to choose something bold, grand and decisive. And sometimes we think we need to see the whole picture before we can choose. This is faulty thinking that keeps us from doing what we really need to do which is simply take the next best step.

Here are two simple questions you can use every day to keep yourself moving forward.

  1. Is what I am doing right not the best opportunity for me to contribute to my most important relationships and advance my highest goals? 
  2. Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?”

Be Grounded in Your Choices

Today there will be up to 70 choices that really count—70! These are the game changes. Seventy choices that will shape the trajectory and velocity of your life. Seventy choices capable of growing your influence, increasing your impact and expanding your contribution. 

You get to choose! Don’t be too concerned with the mundane, routine insignificant 34,030 other choices that you’ll process through today.

But oh for those 70 game changing, life impacting decisions? Make it your aim to welcome these important choices. You embrace them and give thanks for them knowing they are tools you’ll use every day to inspire hearts, unlock possibilities and change lives.

Put the Principle to Work

For each of of the six principles, I have created a worksheet to help you think about and put the principle to work.

What you'll learn:

  • Create VBF's.
  • Validate Your VBF's.
  • Filters for Choosing Well Every Day

Click to Download Principle #5 Worksheet

See you at the finish line!

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