By Izabelle Azevedo
Through the course of our lives, we make decisions. Every day, all the time. But have you ever asked yourself if the decisions you’re making are truly coming from a place of consciousness? Why did you pick this particular outfit you’re wearing today? Why is your favorite color green, not blue, and how did you end up in the career you have right now? Would you like to get married? Why do you want to have children? The question about the outfit is probably the easiest to answer…
If we thought about all our decisions the same way we think about our #ootd we would have a completely different life. But we often don’t see our decisions as what they really are: choices. We don’t question ourselves, we go with the flow. It hurts to say that most of us are living a life in default mode, and not realizing it until way down on the road.
I started questioning my goals in life in my early 20s, when I realized that I was following a sort of script: graduate, work, find a man, get married, have babies. That’s the “natural course of life” – but not for me. As an elder millennial who grew up in South America, dropping out of school to live abroad, 10 years ago, that was TOTALLY off a script with no room for improvising.
Back then, I thought it was “a crazy adventure” I was diving into. But I came to realize I was actually embracing my role as the writer of my own story, stepping towards the freedom of making my choices with intention. I was about to start living my life by choice, by design. I started to learn how to live up to my own expectations, not the expectations of others.
The concept of living by choice is to take control: of your life, your mind, your body. It’s about making decisions that come from a place of “want and desire,” rather than from a place of “should” or “have to.” Think like this: you’re in a boat (your life), and you can either be the captain (take control), or let it sail on its own (with the wind deciding your destination). Although it can be fun to let go, and that’s a way of life, too, I’d rather be the captain of the boat (my life) and of course, leave some room for the unexpected (because shi* and life happens).
Now that you know the concept, let’s talk about what it takes to live by choice:
Living by choice requires self-awareness.
That’s where it all starts. There are lots of “shoulds” out there, and to live with intention, you gotta know what you want, and why — not what you should or should not do or be. So your answers will come from you, your desires, your own expectations. It’ll come from a place of consciousness. Here are a few things you can ask yourself:
Do I really want ________?
Why I do or don’t want ________?
What is it going to bring, add, or change in my present and future?
How does it affect/will affect my life?
Living by choice requires practice.
The journey (yep! journey!) of living by choice begins when you decide to be intentional about your decisions. Because this isn’t something you learned growing up, or at school, it’ll take time to adapt. You learned all these rules and beliefs about yourself and the world, and what it means to be here. So the practice will be deconstructing the patterns you’re used to. You gotta remind yourself that you’re in control, and that it’s ok to be. And that reminds me of…
Living by choice requires self-love.
Because if you don’t love yourself enough, you’ll give up. Living up to our own expectations is difficult — especially as a woman. Not everyone is interested, in fact, most individuals would rather follow the recipe of life (that’s how I call living a life by default, because you’re following a recipe!), and they’ll try to convince you their way is right — which is true, it’s right for them, not for you. You have the right to live life on your own terms, and to make your decisions based on what you want for your future. So love yourself hard! You’ll need it. Stick to your choices, they’re your choices.
Big or small, our choices are shaping our future.
Remember that, big or small, we’re making choices on a daily basis. And those tiny ones are not to be taken for granted. The food we feed our body and the thoughts that fuel our mind; the amount of water or alcohol we take, how we spend our time, money and energy. These are also things you gotta be intentional about and prioritize. It’s ok to cut some things (or people) from your life.
To go from “I have to” to “I want to” takes work, as you see. Even though I’ve been living by choice for a while, and practicing intentional living for over a year, my decisions are still far from being 100% intentional. In fact, I’d say that I’m 30% there. It takes a lot of practice and self-awareness to live by choice, not by default. As I said, it’s a journey. It’s not easy to break the patterns of our society, of our own beliefs. It can be overwhelming. But fighting these battles will reward you with true freedom, in every single meaning of the word, that you haven’t experienced before. Trust me.
Izabelle Azevedo is a Life Changer, Planner & Strategist, and founder of The Lifestyle Manifesto where she helps women live by choice, create and build the life of their dreams. Follow her on @itsmissizabelle