Choose wisely

Each choice we make comes with a cost, a consequence, something we must sacrifice.

A while ago I had a riff with a colleague who was worried about the costs of focusing on preventing illness and promoting health.

“Of course there’s a cost”, I said. “Spending more time to help people stay healthy means you’ll have less time to solve urgent problems today, but working upstream is the only way you can prevent downstream, urgent problems from happening tomorrow”. To which my colleague replied, “the government wants us to see more people more quickly. End of discussion”.

For a while I couldn’t understand how an experienced, hardworking health care professional did not see that the cost of her inaction was greater than the price she’d be paying to keep people healthy.

How could anyone not see that their choices cause people to suffer unnecessarily?

And then I realized that we all make poor choices, often for the same reasons. It’s not that we can’t see what our choices are costing us, it’s that we’re too afraid of what might happen if we chose differently. Mostly, we prioritize choosing what’s easy and comfortable over having the courage to take the road less travelled and try something that might not work.

We choose comfort when we say “I just follow the rules around here”, when we actually mean, “I’m just doing what I’m told, not because it’s the right thing to do”. And we choose easy when we say “my boss won’t let me” when we really mean to say, “I’m too afraid to take the harder path and face resistance”.

Making better choices is available to each of us, and it starts with understanding what you value and what you believe and what you’re willing to give up to make your values and beliefs a reality.

Choosing to create before consuming, to be compassionate instead of judgmental, to connect the disconnected, to do what’s right instead of what’s easy, to practice your values and do what people need rather than what you want to do, these are the choices that define who we are, and what we’re capable of achieving in the world.