You know the ones I mean – the story reaches a fork in the road, and as the reader you get to choose which way your character goes.
“To choose left, head to page 37, or to choose right, head to page 50.”
I loved the concept of these, and lately, while moving house and finding old books I’d hung on to forever, I was reminded of their magic.
To be honest, I think all books are pretty magical. But there was something about being given the choice that, as a kid I found so refreshing.
Fast forward to my adult years, and decisions to be made are in abundant supply – often to the point of overwhelm.
As adults we sometimes find ourselves craving the simplicity of childhood, when a bigger, older person had to make the hard decisions.
What if we looked at each small decision, each little fork in the road as an opportunity to write the next paragraph of our life story?
Wouldn’t that be powerful!
This really doesn’t have to be anything big to start practicing with. How about the simple decision of whether or not to stop for coffee on your way to the office.
If you choose option 1, and you go into the coffee shop, then who knows what might happen as a result of your chosen path. You might bump into an old friend who you haven’t seen for ages.
If you choose option 2 and skip the coffee, then your early arrival at the office might get noticed by the boss, immediately landing you in their good books.
I like to think of these micro choices as being more powerful than we give them credit for. As it’s not all about the micro decision at the time – coffee or no coffee – it’s about the ripple effect further down the line.
Maybe impressing your boss now leads to a promotion later. Or maybe connecting with that old friend gives you an opportunity at a better company.
Who knows? And this is what’s so amazing.
We are CREATING our own outcome from moment to moment – yes, even those micro choices affect our life’s path.
Okay, so far micro choices are sounding great. Our hypothetical coffee situation leading to a career boost – fab!
But how about those bigger life decisions? You know, the ones that make you wish you were a kid again, so that somebody wiser would have to make that call on your behalf…
I know they are overwhelming.
I’ve been through a big life decision recently, in choosing where to move to and start my new life. While flat hunting, the first two properties I settled on were not to be, and in the moment I did start to worry. But finally finding and settling on the home that I’m moving into right now feels great – totally worth waiting for.
And this came about through a little lot of patience and acceptance.
So how about we bring those tools into the mix here too.
When you are looking at a big fork in the road, and the possible ripple affects of picking either direction are too complex and confusing – let’s start with patience.
Patience allows you to breathe and feel your way through the process – remember your gut, it’s going to help you if you let it.
Accept the options you’ve got, and work with them. If you want to think about the possible ripple effects of each fork, then don’t try to do it all in your head. This leads to overthinking, overwhelm, and a lot of confusion.
Write a list of possibilities for each fork – then lay those lists out in front of you, so you can glance over it all and see what speaks to you.
A friend of mine who studied Neuroscience at Uni told me a really clever fact about the brain. When we are mulling over a huge decision, we do this in a small part of our pre-frontal cortex where our ‘working memory’ function lives. In this part of the brain, we can hold several ideas and creatively problem solve with them.
The trouble is that this area is small, and it has a finite capacity.
They say you can hold an average of 7 things in your working memory at any one time. But the more you are trying to mentally juggle, the slower you get. It’s a bit like having too many tabs open on your Internet browser – it becomes less efficient.
So this is the science behind why lists are smart.
If you empty out the working memory part of your brain by putting it all on paper, then you aren’t juggling it all. Your brain can let it go and close those extra browser tabs, becoming more efficient again.
Now you can look at your list and pick one area to think about at a time. And there you go – science meets magic!
I hope this helps you to view the decision-making process in a better light.
Today I think of decisions as less of a chore and more of an opportunity to create. It’s really about choosing the next part of your adventure, and that’s something to be grateful for.
If you would love to dive deeper into understanding how your brain and heart play nicely together and how you can make peace with all your choices, grab your copy of my book The Magical Unfolding here.
It was written as a guidebook to accompany you on your life journey and is a bit like having a mini me walking alongside you as your guide! I still get feedback regularly from readers and I love that my love of books led me to one day create a book of my own... that's what happens when you choose your own adventure 😍
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