The ONE Reason to Make Meaningful Choices Now

by Alli Polin on April 7, 2015

make meaningful choices

I know that for many of you this will sound backward, but it’s fall break here for my children. We’re heading into our winter season Down Under.  My kids are home from school and for the past few weeks I was worrying about how I was going to fit in my work and keep my children engaged, without letting them watch 92,000 hours of television. 

This weekend, I logged on to Facebook to see what was happening with people I know. I rarely post but love lurking and catching up on the lives of friends and family.  It was Sunday morning when I saw a post from one of my Facebook Friends, someone I knew in elementary school; his daughter died the night before.

He no longer has the choice between work and putting his child in front of the TV.  No choice between the iPad and sending one more email.  No choice between cuddles and an upcoming business trip.  None.  

His daughter was around the age of my oldest. She died far too young, and he will never have to prioritize work over time with her again, but I bet, looking back, he wished he put her first a few more times.  I know I’ve made choices I wish I could take as do-overs when my children came second. I feel grateful I can make new, better and more fulfilling choices today.

It’s all your life. You choose how you want to live it.

As I write this, my kids are in my son’s bedroom with their friends.  They are screaming, laughing and probably making a mess that will take weeks to clean up.  My brain tells me to storm in there and tell them to take it easy before someone gets hurt… or to demand that their friends go home while I  plop them in front of their iPads so I can have some peace in the house.  My heart, on the other hand, is relishing their laughter, and I’m willing myself to burn this moment into my long term memory. 

Earlier today, instead of work, I took my kids to see the new Sponge Bob movie.  Let me tell you, that took a lot of love.  The movie was painful to watch. (My daughter loved it. Clearly I’m not the target demographic) But I got to sit in the middle of my children, one arm around each of them for an hour and a half. That would never happen outside of the theater… their friends might see them with me! 

Like most people I know, I spend far too much time worrying about getting ahead, making my mark, being a success. Maybe it’s time to redefine success; after all, there is more to success than fame. Build relationships that matter, do great work, make time for fun; those are the things that make life meaningful.

The ONE Reason to Make Meaningful Choices Now

Your time on earth is finite.

That’s it.  You don’t have forever.  In fact, we never know when tomorrow may be too late.

 

Yes, I’ll do some work this week, but mostly at night. I often work odd hours, and too often it bleeds into the time when I could be taking a break to give them my full attention.  

This week I vow: 

To be grateful for my choices.

To be present in the lives of those I love.

To put down my computer in exchange for a cuddle every chance I get. 

This life I vow: 

To prioritize a full life.

To choose joy.

To have adventures with people I love.

BREAK THE FRAME ACTION:

Do something in the next 24 hours to add richness and depth to your life beyond the grind. Allow yourself to be fully present with others and truly experience joy in the moment.

What choices are you making thinking that you have no other options? Is this the legacy you want to leave?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Blair April 7, 2015 at 7:16 am

What a beautifully written, powerful reminder. Brava!

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Alli Polin April 7, 2015 at 7:24 am

Thanks, Blair! I haven’t seen him in person in decades but I was left heartbroken, and changed, by his update. Here’s to living the life we most want today… no waiting for tomorrow.

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Chery Gegelman April 7, 2015 at 7:54 am

Alli – I missed your virtual presence, but I’m so glad you were soaking in time with your children.

What a beautiful moving post.

My heart aches for your friend and his family.

The cells in my body smiled at the image of you cuddling with your children – even if you were suffering with Sponge Bob!

And every part of me echoes the lessons you are voicing – One of my classmates lost her husband over a year ago, suddenly unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Now she and others are fighting cancer. And each time I hope I remember – just a little longer to savor each moment with those I love and I wonder why that reminder doesn’t stay so vivid as time goes on…

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Alli Polin April 7, 2015 at 8:17 am

Thanks, Chery. I feel for your friend and wish her strength during her fight.

It’s sad that it’s too often death that makes us most appreciate life. The trick is to not let that feeling of gratitude fade but to keep the light burning brightly.

~ Alli

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John Thurlbeck April 7, 2015 at 8:07 am

Brilliant post Alli! I agree entirely – feel the moment, savour the moment and live joyfully thereafter with the memories of those times you took, rather than the ones that got away!

Kind regards

John

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Alli Polin April 7, 2015 at 8:15 am

Well said, John! The ones that got away… regrets are thorns that tend to stay with us for a very, very long time.

Huge thanks for your support! Look forward to celebrating of our new book, Energize Your Leadership with you this month!

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Samantha Hall April 7, 2015 at 8:12 am

I feel you and agree with you wholeheartedly! I still feel the judgments of others for putting my kids first after my husband died. Yet sadly, it often TAKES someone abruptly dying on us to really learn what matters in life!

Right now, I’m being forced to go back to school and work for survival but I will never regret the choice I made to raise my kids and work from home whenever I could for as long as I did. They needed me. They needed at least one of their parents in their lives.

That has been my #1 duty and priority.

Thanks for sharing this and for reinforcing that I made the right decision over the years. One that I will not regret.

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Alli Polin April 7, 2015 at 8:22 am

I once worked with a client who told me that he was willing to sacrifice his time with his children during their youth to achieve great success… so he could enjoy his time with them later in life. We spent many weeks diving into that decision exploring values, vision and what really matters most. Ultimately the choice was not mine to make.

You are a woman who I’m very proud to call a friend. Your life has not always been easy, but you have not shied away from hard or unpopular choices that you know are right for you and your family. Your girls are very lucky to have you as such a strong and resilient role model.

xo,

~ Alli

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Jon Mertz April 7, 2015 at 8:38 am

Alli,

Thoughts are with your friend and the loss they are feeling very deeply. Our end is always unclear so we need to live with clarity each day. This is such a challenge to do as things always confuse and distract us. A sorrowful reminder for us to clear our path to make the most of what matters the most.

Jon

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Alli Polin April 7, 2015 at 8:47 am

My thoughts are with him too, Jon. It really is about clearing our path and living with courage. It can be tough to make the choices that are right for us when we’re caught up in judgements from others.

You have given us great resources to find and walk a path of meaning in your book, Activate Leadership.

Grateful for your insights and connection.

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Terri Klass April 7, 2015 at 9:13 am

I feel such sadness for your friend. I cannot even imagine.

Life is short and we all need to do the important things for our families. Your children are so so lucky to have you with them, especially during this amazing adventure in the Outback.

Listen to your heart and you will always make the right choice.

Thank you for sharing such a powerful part of your life. You are an incredible role model to every leader, Alli!! xxoo

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:06 am

It really is an adventure… even the small things are reminders how we are away from home and learning to live and thrive together, as a unit.

I agree with you – we often turn the sound down on our inner knower instead of listening to our intuition on what really matters.

Thanks, Terri!

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Tom Rhodes April 7, 2015 at 9:49 am

Alli,

An incredibly powerful post. It seems that the world has been more focused on shortening the moment than enjoying the moments. We all miss so much by allowing our priorities to get out of order. Many corporations expect associates to put their jobs ahead of their family. The more we allow that to happen the more our children suffer. Family should always be first. Other things can be replaced. Family and those precious moments can never be.

Thanks for all you do.

Tom

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:04 am

It’s easy to have our priorities get out of order without even realizing it. It’s one choice that stands on the shoulders of another until we don’t even recognize where we are anymore. It’s sad that it takes someone else’s loss to bring us back to center. I know how important family is to you. Thanks for leading the way.

~ Alli

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Karin Hurt April 7, 2015 at 10:22 am

Such an important post. Thank you. Such an important reminder that every day we are making important choices that add up to our life. Namaste.

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:02 am

We think we always have tomorrow to make a better choice… until we don’t. Thanks, Karin.

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Sage Bramhall April 7, 2015 at 10:32 am

powerful

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:01 am

Thanks, Sage. Means so much from such a loving and fierce momma like you.

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John Bennett April 7, 2015 at 10:34 am

A quote from the late Stephen Covey: “There are three constants in life: Change, Choice, and Principles.” It of course all begins with our principles, what are the bedrock notions that fundamental to what we are. Based upon those principles, we make or should make our choices. And of the need to change, being true to our principles, is reality.

Two principles are happiness and satisfaction. Covey, again, talks of the four needs: learning, social, physical, and what I refer to as internal. The first three are pretty obvious; but it’s important that the physical need not only includes health and hygiene but also fiscal needs. The fourth, internal, is the periodic consideration on how the other three are going and what refinements will make them go better. Only with all four needs met does ANYONE have a chance to be happy and satisfied.

So yes, our careers do address our family physical needs and should satisfy some learning and social needs if the organization is a healthy one. BUT, thinking about this post, if we don’t consider family in terms of social, learning, and physical (non-fiscal) needs, our internal review will see unbalance and thus unhappiness and dissatisfaction for sure!

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:19 am

Wow! Amazing insight into Covey. Change, choices and principles. With you.

Reminds me a little bit of a recent conversation I had with my son. By law, the only thing I’m required to provide is food, shelter, clothing and education anything else is a choice and it’s our choices that can create the most joy.

Thank you for adding so much depth to the conversation!

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LaRae Quy April 7, 2015 at 2:17 pm

This is such a beautiful post, Alli! And written from the heart…

I am so sorry for your friend’s loss of his daughter, and you’re right when you say that if we can’t take time out to be grateful for those who love us, then we’ve got our priorities all wrong.

I love your first point about learning to be grateful…gratitude is such a strong emotion, and one we can grow and strengthen just like any other muscle in our body.

Have a wonderful week, my friend!

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:01 am

I used to think it was just something people said… gratitude changes everything. The crazy thing is that it is an incredibly powerful way to shift your perspective. Even when my kids are driving me nuts, I turn to gratitude and it helps me make it through 🙂

Thanks, LaRae!

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Brenda Lee April 7, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Hi Alli,

I’m so sorry about your friends daughter. Too young to be taken. 🙁 Life is too short. I learned that at the young age of 11 when my Mother passed away suddenly. I’ve experienced death prior to that but not quite as close as losing a Mother. I try to live life to it’s fullest and not take anything for granted, including people. My hubs and I have this “thing” that we always say “I love you” when we leave one another for work and before going to bed. Never leave words unspoken for you never know if you’ll have the chance to say them.

Thanks for the reminder on how short life is my friend.

B

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Alli Polin April 9, 2015 at 7:09 am

For years that was a thing between my husband and I too. I don’t know when it changed but appreciate that you’ve sparked the return of an “I love you” before we pass out for the night.

You were the same age as my daughter is today when mother died. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for you.

Thank you for sharing your story and life here!

~ Alli

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