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  • Bek Smith

The power (and problem) of choice

Updated: Apr 22, 2019



There is a LOT going on in South Australia this month - not only the usual festival madness with the Adelaide Festival, the Fringe, Adelaide 500 motor racing and WOMADelaide, but also a state election coming up. So. Many. Things.

I used to get into "Mad March" in a big way, back when the Fringe was held every two years and the events guide was just a few pages. As time went on and there were more and more events and shows happening annually, I found myself withdrawing. It's not that I stopped enjoying the festivities - I became overwhelmed with choice. So I chose not to choose anything at all.

With such an array of events (and politicians) to choose from currently, it got me thinking that "Mad March" gives us a useful analogy for the hundreds of life choices we are faced with daily:

  • We are bombarded with food choices - and mixed advice - about the types, brands and philosophies of what to put in our mouths

  • Young people have more subjects and uni courses to choose from than ever, with a certain pressure to pick a particular path early on

  • We can entertain ourselves through free-to-air TV, Netflix, Foxtel, Stan, Fetch TV... hundreds of movies and shows competing for our attention simultaneously

  • We flick through Facebook or LinkedIn or Pinterest or Instagram or YouTube, needing to decide which posts or blogs or videos to pay attention to and which to skip over...

... and our Fear Of Missing Out keeps us wondering whether we're making the right choices that will keep us in the loop, keep us in touch, keep us connected and "keeping up". Lest we be left behind.

My experience of Mad March struck me as a useful life analogy, because sometimes the more choice we are faced with, the more likely we are to experience "analysis paralysis". I've heard we rely on a certain neurochemical in our brain to help us make decisions, and it gets depleted throughout the day. So information overload leads to decision overload which can lead to a person shutting down or withdrawing.

All this frenetic activity around us means we are losing our ability to sit still and just be. We have a compulsion to "keep up" so we fill our calendars and our brains with stuff. But how much of it is meaningful stuff? How much of it is really important to us? I think maybe before we tackle the hundreds of choices around what to do and how to do it, we need to take a step back to choose why we're doing any of it. When we know our 'why', it helps us enormously by acting as a filter for all the other stuff.

To this end, for myself I'm stepping out of everything at the end of this month to engage deeply in a week-long meditation retreat. You may not have the luxury to do the same in order to contemplate your why, but I encourage you to give it some thought. Author and speaker Simon Sinek is a huge advocate of a 'why' approach in life and business - if you have four minutes click here to listen to his perspective.

If you'd prefer some more personal guidance, then pause and reach out to someone. There are some seriously great events coming up in Adelaide that will help you create space and gain clarity, which you won't find in a festival guide anywhere. I'll list my top three recommendations below for you, with enough information to make your potential choices as easy as possible!

Bek's Purpose Pick #1

  • if you enjoy spending weekend afternoons in the McLaren Vale wine region

  • if you want a step-by-step "formula" for authentic decision making

  • if you are currently faced with uncertainty, problems or desire for change

  • you can continue to apply what you learn in this workshop to any current or future situation

  • this event is usually $149 but in March only $99, run by a fabulous and wise woman I can't speak highly enough of... check out the Vision Web workshop here

Bek's Purpose Pick #2

  • if you enjoy alliteration, this particular Purpose Pick is "Presenting with Presence"

  • specifically for people who want to speak up, be heard and get a message across

  • run by not one, but two fabulous people with complementary skill sets

  • is a one-day workshop that shapes you as a storyteller and positions you to be a powerful communicator with purpose AND presence - Friday March 23 in North Adelaide

  • I did this workshop in November and it has taken my public speaking and sense of self to a new level - book here now, limited places will go quickly

Bek's Purpose Pick #3

  • one OR two day workshop with a teacher from Harvard University

  • Daniel Brown is a world-renowned expert on the neuroscience of meditation and brain function

  • this is the first and perhaps last time he will offer this in Adelaide

  • Day 1 is on "Performance Excellence", Day 2 on "Concentration Training"

  • because of my work at SAHMRI I can offer you 20% off the regular ticket price - the code SAHMRIWELLVIP will be automatically applied if you click here to book (or just visit the link for more information)

I recognise the poetic irony in offering you more "stuff and choices" after talking about how we need to filter the stuff and choices... but I'm confident that each of these face-to-face events have the power to simplify your life and quieten the busy brain. I've found a lot of value in the work of these people and am sure you will too.

The problem with choice is that there are so many to make. The power of choice is that you get to decide which choices are truly important to you. So go forth - and choose wisely.

Bek Smith is a fitness professional and trainer/educator in positive psychology. She is fascinated by what makes people tick, and driven to help people tick in more productive and enjoyable ways. She is currently focused on influencing mindsets within the fitness industry, so if you know a personal trainer or fitness professional that would benefit from some brain-based life hacks, get them to email bek@smithandwellness.com for a coffee or Skype chat!


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