A friend of mine posted a blog which lays out her “important life choices”, i.e., the decisions she consciously makes in order to live a life that’s congruent with her values. To some people, her choices might look like a list of goals…something to strive toward. To others, some of her choices might look more like sacrifices.
So the question is: What’s the difference?
The answer is: The difference determines your success.
A choice is an action you prefer over another action. It’s something you control. It’s a decision. We make thousands of choices everyday…get up early or sleep in, wear boots or shoes, drink water or soda, pay bills or put them in a pile, etc.. Most of them fall into patterns and become part of our daily routine. Some of them, however, are important enough to define the quality of our lives.
A goal is something you’re working toward, something you’d like to achieve that includes a degree of uncertainty. It’s something you’re trying to accomplish…like losing ten pounds, earning a college degree, marrying a person who’s great for you, finding balance and happiness in life. Goals are meant to challenge us and give us direction.
A sacrifice is a thing you “give up” because you’re forced to give it up or because you know you should; but in your heart, you still want it badly. You give it up because continuing would be worse…like smoking, over-eating, drinking, or the mistress. Sacrifices often come with resentment and failure.
Joy’s list of “important choices” are just that, choices. They are things she chooses to do in order to live an authentic life. They aren’t goals because they aren’t in the future and there’s no uncertainty. They define her lifestyle. And finally, they aren’t sacrifices because she doesn’t see herself as giving something up, i.e., she doesn’t miss the other options.
Happiness is about your important life choices. What would be on your list?