Choices: They have Consequences

I remember being told that choices had consequences when I was around five years old. It’s the kind of thing my mother would say to me if I couldn’t eat extra cookies because I didn’t do my homework. Chances are, you’ve heard the foreboding statement before as well, from a similar authoritarian figure when you were a child. 

It’s not the kindest piece of advice to hear: someone telling you that your choices have consequences can sound painfully obvious. Well, of course, we know that eating a whole pizza by yourself at 1 AM for a month will reflect in you putting on weight. 

And even though we know that simple choices like eating junk food or not keeping secrets lead to obvious consequences (bad health and maybe losing some friends), we’re often over-vigilant of bad choices because of the fear factor of their subsequent consequences. 

Since we live a life of being afraid of what could happen if we make the wrong move — we forget the consequences of good choices!

Locus of control

Why do we have bad days?

Your answer could be something along the lines of, “They just happen. If things have been going good for a while, you’re gonna have a bad day soon.” 

It could also be, “We make certain choices that lead up to having bad days. I have good days when I do things right.” 

There’s a big difference between both these answers. The first answer believes that they are, fundamentally, not in control. That somehow, bad things happen for no reason, and there’s nothing we can do to control our destiny. 
The second one takes responsibility for bad and good days alike.

This is a theory developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954 called the Locus of Control. It divides people into two groups: internal and external locus of control. 

The people who believe that they have control over the consequences of their actions, who think that they can write their own destiny, have Internal Locus of Control

Those that think that no matter what they do, they can’t control life events have an External Locus of Control. 

Why does this matter?

Research indicates a direct correlation between happiness, success, and self-fulfillment for people with an internal locus of control. Instead of leaving it all up to fate and chance, people with an internal locus of control make conscious choices, so they get their desired consequences. 

Control and Choices

So what does having an internal locus of control got to do with the choices we make and their consequences? 

Once you adopt an internal locus of control mindset you become aware of how your good choices have consequences as well!

How do you develop an internal locus of control? Apparently, the best way to do it is to keep congratulating yourself every time something good happens! Ate a delicious meal? Congrats to you for cooking it! If you ordered, congratulations on choosing a great restaurant! 

Acknowledging that you had an important role to play in the events that happen to you will make you more aware of choices and their consequences. If you had a bad day at work, ask yourself why?
People tend to answer that their boss was rude to them or that the weather made them feel unmotivated. These answers undermine your own ability to be in charge. If your answer is that you let your boss affect your mood or that you have a terrible habit of not working on rainy days, then you’ve started to take ownership!

Taking ownership is more than just taking the blame. At first, you might feel like you miss the convenience of blaming external circumstances, but taking the responsibility also enables you to check yourself in advance. Next time you’re about to have a bad day, you’ll identify the real culprit and be able to fix the problem! Settle the score with yourself

Believing that you have control and are the writer of your own destiny can be the ticket you need to create the life you want. Being cognizant of how making good choices has both instant and long-term results will significantly improve your motivation to keep doing it every day. 

All the choices you have made in your life so far have led you up to the place you’re in right now. Some of them would have invariably been good and bad, and the amalgamation of them has resulted in the quality of life you experience. 

We all want to make our life better. The fact that you’re reading this article on this blog indicates that you’re one of the few people committed to actually making changes in your life. The first step is to acknowledge that you’re in control of your life and then realize that the right decisions can profoundly affect your life. 

Here is an example of often-overlooked daily choices that have significant positive consequences: 

  • Waking up early every day to take out time for yourself. This can be either meditation or exercise or quiet reflection on the day ahead of you. This can vastly improve your mental health and stabilize your emotional state with more awareness. Usually, people experience the benefits only after exercising and meditating for a couple of months: or if they suddenly stop!

Focus on the Consequence, not the Choice

Suppose you have a small choice between doing the dishes in your kitchen and going to bed early: or going out for a couple of drinks with some friends. Both options have their pros and cons. In the first option, you’d be more responsible and happier the next day to wake up to a clean kitchen. In the second option, you’d be glad you spent time with your friends but may not feel as motivated. 

Here it’s more difficult to see which is the ‘good’ decision. It could vary from person to person and their current requirement in life. So when trying to make the right decision, it’s essential to first know what your personal goals are, in order to see which choice leads you on a path closest to your goals. 

Taking the same example, it might be confusing whether you should stay home and wash the dishes or go for drinks with your friends. You might feel guilt at leaving your dishes dirty, but also FOMO (fear of missing out) at canceling plans. 

This is why focusing on the choices can be confusing.
Instead, let’s focus on the consequences in the same situation. 

  • Are you trying to bring more order and discipline into your life? If you’re trying to be a more responsible person, work backward and figure out which option gives you this outcome. It’s the first one, staying home and doing the dishes. 
  • Are you trying to let loose and spend more quality time with your loved ones? If you’re trying to put yourself out there and stop worrying so much, you might benefit from telling yourself that the dishes can be done tomorrow morning, but it’s crucial to invest in relationships. 

There isn’t really a good or bad decision in most situations; it’s just about what is right or wrong for your life!