Friday night finally rolls around, and it is time to head out with your co-workers for Happy Hour. Your typical go-to involves wings in the sauciest sauce possible, fries with ranch for dipping, and a couple of beers. Now that you are working on your fitness goals, you aren’t sure how Friday night Happy Hour fits in with your plan. You aren’t going to miss an opportunity to be social, but you want to set yourself up for weekend success by making better choices.
You know that your typical order isn’t exactly the healthiest option on the menu. You start to wonder if you should wait until you get to the restaurant, peruse the menu as a way to identify swaps, and then make your final decision about what to order. You know you don’t really go to this particular restaurant for good quality food, and the wings and fries aren’t all that tasty without the saucy sauce and extra ranch. The beer, well that always hits the spot after a long week.
On the other hand, you could try something a bit different and plan ahead. By planning ahead, you are more than likely to make a different choice by finding a menu item that offers a combination of protein, fiber, and water. The menu is available online and you have a few minutes to look it over. As you weigh your options, you understand living out the second choice leads to feeling good mentally and physically. Knowing that you made a better choice for your body and for your goals allows you to go home, kick off your shoes, and head to bed without guilt or discouragement.
Are you able to identify the difference between a choice and a decision when thinking about this example of a pretty typical thought process around eating out? A decision involves weighing the considerations life throws at you. You pretty much go with the flow. You find yourself indulging in a tasty treat and simultaneously saying, “I don’t even want this” or “This doesn’t even taste that good.” You more often feel victim to the circumstance you’re in.
But a choice is something you know you’ll execute no matter the circumstances. A choice is a conscious decision to live in alignment with the things that are important to you. You know that making the right choice may not be easy and you may be tempted to make a different choice. Ultimately you recognize that you may have to be resourceful to make the ideal choice, but you find a way.
Let’s think about some real life examples where you could make a decision or make a choice:
- Decision: My kids want McDonalds so I guess I’ll eat a burger and french fries.
- Choice: I’ll order a burger, but I’ll strip the bun so I only eat protein and veggies and skip the fries.
- Decision: I’m going on vacation so I don’t if I’ll be able to get my morning walk in
- Choice: I am going to wake up and walk for 15-minutes on the beach before my family wakes up.
- Decision: I wonder if there will be a hotel gym.
- Choice: I will pack my bands so I can get a quick workout in no matter what
- Decision: I have a busy day of zoom calls. I wonder what’s easiest to order when I get hungry.
- Choice: I’ll pack a few protein bars and protein shakes to have at my desk so my SHMEC stays in check.
- Decision: My friend invited me for a coffee date at Starbucks right when I planned to take a walk.
- Choice: I’ll tell my friend I’ll be about 20 minutes late because I’m going to walk to Starbucks so I can move more and still enjoy my time with her.
When you make choices, you remove considerations. You become a forward-thinking person. You create a lifestyle that you’re in control of and is sustainable over the long run. One seemingly small choice actually leads to bigger and more meaningful choices. The snowball effect sets in, and suddenly small conscious choices are adding up, leading to bigger and bigger changes.
You also understand that you aren’t always going to make the healthiest choice for your body. This is normal and human. By making a different choice, you can remind yourself that one off-track choice doesn’t have to snowball into many off-track choices. Choose to make the right choice with the next opportunity and move on with your day.
Now that you know the difference between a decision and a choice, think about what lies ahead for your week. Do you have some daily commitments that could be challenging? When those challenges come up, what decisions might you normally make and what is one choice you can make instead?
Now declare it! Share your choice with someone supportive, write that choice down, or set an alert on your calendar to make a specific choice that day. And remember that making the right choice may not always be easy, but you are resourceful and you are going to make it happen!