Making Choices

Thank you so much for your generous response to “One of the Me-s I Used to Be”.  I emailed everyone who commented and if you haven’t gotten it, please check your junk mail filters.  I really wanted to let you know how much it means to me that you connected with my words.  One of my great, quiet joys is helping people find their own paths.

Many of you wrote that I inspired you and I want to share something that can’t be overstated.




I bought the notion that choice is a singular event and then wondered why change was either a) hard or b) fleeting. Here’s the thing: the first time we make a choice is really important. Really, super important. But to keep that promise to ourselves we have to keep on showing up and making all the supporting followup choices.

Day after day. Again and again. I want a change? Then I’ve got to show up dozens and hundreds of time along the way. Eventually making those supporting choices becomes easier and then it becomes habit, but I still have to do it.

For example, I’m fit because I didn’t just say one day, “I’m going to get fit.”  I also said, “And that means running in the rain.” I said, “Even if I feel tired.” I even said, “You’d better get up at dawn and go because it’s going to be hot.” Not to mention, “Shut up, whiner, the treadmill may be boring, but you’ll be so happy with yourself once you’re done.”

At the same time, you’ve got to forgive yourself along the way for being human and not a superhero.  Don’t ask yourself in each situation, “What’s the best choice I can make here?” and answer the question as though you have the resources of Bruce Wayne, the flexibility of Elastigirl, and the army of staff at Buckingham Palace. Your best choice in any situation may not be worthy of a TV mini-series, but it’s still your best in that moment.  The wonderful thing is that each and every time you show up for yourself, you get the energy, the confidence, the surge of motion that comes from keeping a promise.  And every time you do approach a choice, no matter how tiny, you get the chance to start again.  Even if you blew it five minutes ago, here’s a new chance coming along.

I think of it as building railroad track.  I got that from homeschooling author Charlotte Mason, but I use it alllllllll the time with my Weight Watchers people and with Sandra and Matthias.  Building habits is like laying track – hard, hard work.  Leveling hills, tunneling through mountains, draining swamps…Hard work.  But once laid, you just put the engine on the track, point it in the right direction, and it gets to its destination.  A habit is like that – work to build, but then you get to ride it home every time.

So it’s not just a choice. Don’t buy that myth. Make that one choice and then show up again and again.

23 thoughts on “Making Choices

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you for this. This is hitting me right where I’m living these days, that it’s not just one day of eating better, walking, picking up after myself, but endless days of doing these things, until they become habits, the go-to anchor of my life.

  2. Melissa says:

    “Even if you blew it five minutes ago, here’s a new chance coming along”
    This one made me cry. I have been so hard on myself and felt guilty for so long for all the times i have made choices to do things then eventually not “showed up”
    I found that my children were learning the exact same thing from me and I am glad that i see this.
    I agree that keeping at something helps untill it becomes a habit.
    Today is going to be a good day, another chance is coming up with the sunrise

  3. alex says:

    another great post!
    I agree with you completely. I have explained this many times to my son, in helping control his emotions, that every time he has to make the choice, no matter how hard it is, no matter the situation.
    When we have a bad day at our house, I always remind them that tomorrow is a new day 🙂
    With running I know too, that it works when it becomes a habit. I can apply that to everything really, even to training our puppy, do something until it becomes a habit!
    again, great post!
    thank you.

  4. Charity says:

    This is such a great reminder, Sarah, thank you. Your other post – it struck me so deeply I just didn’t have words. So many things similar between us, and yet so many things different, too. Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. Sarah says:

    I can’t believe that you respond to every comment – and not “Thanks!” responses, but thought out responses tailored to the comment. It’s so thoughtful.

    I loved both that post and this one. I keep going back and reading the post and trying to comment, but I’ve got so much I want to say and it keeps needing to be ruminated on…

  6. Andrea says:

    In your last post, I picked up on the choice of the pain of self-discipline or the pain of self-regret as a mantra of sorts for the week. That has been helpful for me numerous times this week, but I do like the shift in language from one of “pain” to “follow-up choices.” Very interconnected ideas, but a more positive spin. I expect you will be echoing in my head again this week!

  7. Mariah says:

    What good work you’ve done. And you put it out there so clearly and uncluttered. Building habits is all that simple and oh so hard. It’s BIG hard.

    Thanks for sharing these bits of your self.

  8. Rabia says:

    Wow, another great post! Such a good reminder that we have to build our habits!

    Now I’m making the choice to get off the Internet and go do something creative and/or intellectual. 😀

  9. Ali says:

    Sarah, Another fabulous post. It’s really what I needed. I need to persevere with WW and make running my habit. Your words were very powerful and so true. Thank you! Loved the railroad analogy. We’ve just spent the weekend at Algonquin and my son learned to ride his bike without his training wheels. Boy was it ever a railroad building experience! But now I have an exercise partner. Keep the fabulous posts coming!

  10. Sinclair says:

    This is how we changed our eating habits. Ours was not for weight loss, but for internal health. It has been a 6-ish year process of eliminating soda, fast food, becoming lacto-ovo vegetarian, and now eliminating more and more boxed items until we are almost completely free of pre-packaged foods. Eating just a whole foods diet. Buying in bulk. My daughter has never even had a piece of candy (processed, high fructose corn syrup and other meanies), but she can have fresh vanilla ice cream and homemade cookies. It works for us, but the first two years, I was sullen at times because I felt deprived. I craved things I never had even wanted before. Now, I don’t want those things, and I am on the track in my train engine riding around. Occasionally, a piece of track comes loose a little, and then I have to grab some railroad ties and repair the break, but mostly it is chugging right along.

    Did you know that some fast food burgers contain 60 or more ingredients? I am an avid ingredient reader now, and I don’t want laboratory created foodstuff in my body.

    Congrats on your continued momentum.

  11. Missy says:

    Thank you for inspiring so many of us. I’ve been a reader via my Google Reader for quite some time, however I’ve never commented. I’m in a season of life right now with so much stress I can barely breathe at times, but reading your blog entries (particularly this one and your entry about how your life has changed over the years) has made me realize that I need so desperately to care for myself. If I am to be a WHOLE person, capable of truly loving my husband and my family well, I have to take care of me. The mountain of issues to tackle seems nearly insurmountable, however, one choice at a time seems much more feasible. I appreciate your openness and your efforts of being real and transparent, such a rare thing to find these days. May God bless you and your family!

  12. Jimena Bordes says:


    My mom told someone once that her daughter had had trouble getting her son to latch, but “she kept at it, for six weeks, kept going, and never gave up!”

    I kind of boggled for a while. “What are you _talking_ about?” I wondered. “I gave up! I gave up every single day! Sometimes two or three times a day! I just… kept coming back.”

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