From I Can't to I Choose

You probably know the story of the little engine that could. His motto was “I think I can, I think I can.” There’s a lot that we can learn from this popular fable. At its core, it is a story that teaches us about the power of mind. Of course, it is true that it takes more than wishful thinking to shift our circumstances and shape our reality. Yet, we are often incredibly attached to these habits of mind that keep us stuck somewhere that we’d rather not be. But still, we stay there because it is comfortable and familiar, without even noticing the thoughts that are holding us in place.

How often have you told yourself you can’t? You can’t leave your job. You can’t upset your boss. You can’t disappoint your family. You can’t take time out for yourself. You can’t be alone. You can’t commit to this project. You can’t take a pay cut. You can’t move to a new city or a new neighborhood. You can’t embrace this opportunity. You can’t possibly risk loving so much.  

There’s a simple mind shift that you can make, which will give you an incredible amount of power to create the life and the work that you want. This is a latent power that comes from within you, and it doesn’t depend on any external changes or forces to give it juice. The next time you think to yourself, “I can’t”... simply turn that thought around and say “I choose.”

Instead of “I can’t quit my job,” you say, “I choose financial security for myself and/or my family.”

Instead of “I can’t commit to this project,” you say, “I choose to embrace flexibility and freedom.”

Instead of “I can’t move to a new city,” you say “I choose the comfort of familiar surroundings.”

The empowering thing about becoming aware of the choices that you’re making is twofold. One source of power from being in your choice is that it puts you in control as the chooser, as the director, as the creator. You are in the driver’s seat. You are not going to be a hapless passenger in your life. You remember that you are the one calling the shots in shaping your life, even if your current choices and decisions can sometimes present conflicts or compromises for you.

The other source of power of being in your choice is the inherent impermanence of it. Your current situation is not something that you succumb to as a statement of fact. It is not some external circumstance that you are the victim of, and it is not something that you are forced to accept as your reality forevermore. You see that you are making this choice… for now. And that sense of the present tense opens up the possibility of making a different choice in the future.