The Power of Daily Choices

Last week, I was traveling to Charlotte, NC for work and I was dreading the flight.  As my husband drove me to the airport at 6am, I started to feel a wave of anxiety – and I realized that it had been over three years since I traveled on an airplane by myself.

I’ve been afraid of flying since I was a child – I’ve gotten better over the years, but take-offs still terrify me during the three to four minutes it takes to get steady in the air.  I’m very aware that it’s an irrational fear, but during the take-off, my stomach gets tight and I feel extreme anxiety rushing through my body no matter how many times I tell myself “this is normal, this is safe.”  At least traveling with my husband or a co-worker helps ease some of the tension as I can talk to them during the take-off.  Thus, flying alone had me feeling even more dread than usual about my flight.

I shared my nerves with my husband and he reminded me that in this moment, I was creating my fear by choosing to focus on the take-off and my anxiety.  I was allowing myself to think about the irrational “what-ifs” in my head.  I let my husband’s words sink in, and reminded myself that I had two choices here:

  1. I could get defensive and share all the reasons why my fear of flying was justified.
  2. Or, I could accept the truth of his statement, feel encouraged that my “success principles methodology” has been embraced by my husband, and remember that I do have a choice about how I responded to flying alone.

I decided that the latter would serve me better.  

When I got to the airport I tried to remember what I enjoyed about flying by myself years ago.  One thing I love about being in an airport is that there is nothing else you’re “supposed to be doing” during that time – there’s no laundry to fold, no dishes to do, no desk at which you should be glued. It’s an opportunity for complete YOU time.

I reminded myself that I am in control of my choices and my experiences, and it was up to me to decide how I was going to experience that morning.  Once I got through security, I made an agreement with myself that I would take advantage of the time to unplug from the world and enjoy my “guilty pleasures”.  I thought of things that I love to do (on occasion) and got to it…

  • Guilty Pleasure #1 – I ordered one of my favorite breakfasts – a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit and hash browns
  • Guilty Pleasure #2 – I sat down with my breakfast and read my new, engaging romance novel
  • Productive “Me Time” Pleasure: When I got to the gate, I took time to journal and reflect on how I want to grow in 2018
  • Guilty Pleasure #3 – On the plane, I put away my work and enjoyed watching a great TV show – Parks & Recreation

During the take-off, I actually was not as anxious as I know I can be.  I’ll be honest, I had my nerves, but I did not feel terrified.  I said a prayer, got back to my show and I was fine.

When I arrived at the Charlotte airport, I treated myself to a Cinnabon for being surprisingly calm during the flight. I’m a big believer that when you’re creating new habits, you must build in times to reward yourself to help with your motivation.  Every small accomplishment is worth acknowledging, because it’s the consistency of small accomplishments that lead to the big ones!

What’s my point from all this? One of the greatest tools we have at our disposal is the power of choice, i.e. the power to create our own experiences.   

Sometimes as ambitious women, I believe we can get so sucked into our goals and focusing on what we’re yearning to achieve that we forget to be present in the moment and enjoy where we are.  We can get overwhelmed by worrying and forget that we always have choices that can change our outcomes.  And most importantly, we need to remember that it is always up to us to choose to feel our fear and move forward anyway!

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