Contemplation is something that we all are forced to do at some point in our lives. Let’s say you are contemplating choices that you never thought you’d have. Do you allow fear to make the decisions for you, or do you spread your wings and try something new? Are there reasons that are valid for keeping you from making changes in your life? Do you feel like the walls are constantly closing in on you, and you have no way to free yourself? Are you tired of drama and the same old issues that you face? Do you have any inclination as to what your next steps in your life will be? Are you willing to adapt to the necessary changes you need to make?
These are valid questions with no simple answers. I have watched as many I care for, including myself, struggle with some of these same issues. The world is big, and sometimes we add responsibilities onto our shoulders that are bigger than what we think we can carry. That’s why we must look at what we can change in our lives for a healthier lifestyle. My favorite types of contemplations are the ones that are not clear-cut. I have an analytical mind, so bouncing scenarios off my friends is a fun way for me to engage in a “Philadelphia lawyer” mentality. Some of my closest friends are studying to enter the legal world, so it’s entertaining to hear how some of their case studies play out.
For example, I have a huge extended family. Some of my family I love and adore and others I could do without. Recently, I had a discussion with my insurance representative, who informed me that since I had no living children, I should leave whatever I had left behind to my cousins and their offspring.
I could barely suppress my laughter. For one thing, I love my family but not enough to leave them a damn thing. If I were to leave anything to my family and their offspring, the first thing they’d do is sell whatever they could. I’m not an idiot. I know how they operate. What’s important to me is not important to them. I also know that if I want the important things to make a difference, I need to delegate those things legally that sets the stage for what I would have designated those things for. My cousins don’t know me well, and I don’t know them well either. I don’t expect anything from them, and I hope they don’t expect from me. I can love them and want to share in their milestones, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be bosom buddies with them.
Estate planning is only one area that we have to contemplate our choices. Funeral arrangements are another area that we need to contemplate ahead of time. If most of you are okay with being cremated and ending up on Cousin Suzie’s kitchen table, that’s great. But a large majority of folks like to feel they have ownership of those decisions, and that is where contemplation comes in. We make contemplations in our lives about relationships. Are those relationships serious, or did we do things that made the relationships more serious than we intended? Are we going to want to settle down with a partner, or are we content with being alone? Are we willing to take chances on someone we love and care for, or are we content to let things play out day by day? All of these issues stem from some contemplation. Every one of us has thoughts that swirl in our minds. It might be about religious issues, professional settings, personal and professional topics, etc… Whatever is going on in your life, I guarantee you that you face some contemplation.
Anytime we deal with life choices, we need to acknowledge that there are five stages of change. They are as follows: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance.
What is pre-contemplation? This means that you are not thinking of quitting in the next six months. Many of us get thoughts in our heads about quitting, and we listen to those thoughts more than we should. Instead of reacting, let’s find ways to address issues instead of run. Contemplation means that you are considering quitting in the next 6 months but not thirty days. In essence, you are giving careful thought and consideration to the choices you are presented with. Preparation means that you are ready to quit within those thirty days. Just remember, quitting isn’t always the right answer. But it’s also not always the wrong one either. Weigh your decisions carefully. Action is when you are trying to quit for good. Maintenance is when you’ve achieved your objective for at least six months.
It’s imperative to identify these identifiers. We all make choices, and many of those choices will affect the outcome of our lives. Tough choices help us to stand a little taller even when we feel like shrinking. Contemplation isn’t always a bad thing. When we are contemplating serious decisions, we are not jumping into irrational choices. That’s growth.
The next time you are faced with serious decisions, remember there are millions of people in this world facing similar circumstances. Recognize what is important to you and where you want your life to go. Once you do that, the decisions will become easier to sort out. Have a great weekend, everyone!