Making Choices

light at nightThere was a period in my life where I rode my bike, a lot. During that time, I also had kids in junior high and high school. So being at home in the evenings with them after work was really important to me. Given there are only so many hours in the day, I chose to ride in the morning. If you back up being at work by 8ish, plus time to get ready, and the fact that I rode around 2 hours in the morning, it doesn’t take much to do the math and see that I was riding VERY early, pre-dawn, in the dark.  It’s not a big deal to ride in the dark, but you need a light so you can see, and be seen.

Off I went to my local bike shop to get a light. I looked around, found a reputable brand and bought a light, for about $30.  I felt like that was good enough, rationalized that I could afford it since money was tight.  Once I was out in the dark, it quickly became apparent that my light was weak at best. My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I could see, sort of, but I was no bat.  How visible I was to cars is unknown, but I’m writing this so we know I must have been visible enough.

Round two, I decide I need a different light, more visibility, my non-bat eyes missed stuff, meaning I likely narrowly missed more than one accident.  Back to the bike shop, more money, better light. Let’s ignore the fact I had to use one of my bottle cages for the battery, it was brighter. It was more expensive, but still lower mid-range in the scheme of things. I felt like I’d done better by myself, gotten what I could afford, again, and it was good enough.

By then I was riding a lot more, climbing and descending long hills, in the dark, and only able to see about 20 feet in front of me, maybe wasn’t my greatest plan.  I made it work for a while, but after not too long, sucked it up and bought the more than $150 light. Now I could be seen by cars, my light was as bright as a car headlight, the next 200 feet were clear as day, no more near misses. Happy cyclist.

I was thinking about that decision making process.  Why didn’t I just jump to the higher end light in the first place? Most certainly I ended up spending more money along the way.  Of course that got me thinking of where else I do that in life. Where do I make short sighted decisions because they’re “good enough.” Sometimes I make those decisions because I get stuck. I see only limited choices, or I use measurements for what is “ok” that don’t really factor in everything that’s important.

Today I was in that cycle. Working with my coach on some business development ideas. Quickly it was evident that I was taking a narrow view of my options. She asked me “what if time and money weren’t an option, what would you do?” That opened up so much more. She helped me brainstorm a wide range of options that I had previously counted out, mainly because I thought, “can’t afford it.”  How often do you do that? Limit your own choices by boxing yourself in, applying narrow parameters instead of thinking outside the lines.

We can do that in many areas of life. If we believe there are limited choices, then we’ll make narrowly based decisions. Rather than seeking the huge, the awesome, the ideal, we take ok, safe, affordable. My challenge to me today, my challenge to you, is to look at decisions, look at where life is headed and ask “what if time and money weren’t a factor?”; or, more importantly “what is my heart telling me?” You might be amazed at your answer. From my own experience I can tell you, go big the first time, don’t take self-limited choices, buy the light. You’ll find so much more joy and enjoyment in the ride!

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