If you follow me on social media, you know I am in the midst of a multi-city workshop tour. Since September 18th, I’ve been to Birmingham, AL; Richmond, VA; Las Vegas, NV; Shreveport, LA; and Indianapolis, IN. Next, I am bound for Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Washington, DC; and Boise, Idaho.

Needless to say, I’ve been spending a lot of time in hotel rooms. And I have watched my fair share of cable; a treat (?) since I don’t have cable at home. I am finding one show, in particular, mesmerizing: “Property Brothers.”

If you’re unfamiliar, the show features two brothers, twins, who work with a family to simultaneously sell and buy a home. Whilst one brother focuses on staging the family’s existing house so it can sell for the maximum price, the other brother scouts out at least three homes for the family to consider purchasing – homes that fit with (most of) the family’s specifications in terms of price, location, size, etc.

After several episodes of “Property Brothers,” I started noticing a pattern, and a correlation. It occurred to me that the families being profiled have a lot in common with the people I coach and those attending my workshops. They also have a lot in common with you and me:

There is something they want to change, but they don’t always like the trade-offs that come with.

In the case of this home selling, buying and design show, I saw this duality played out in different ways in every show. In one episode, the featured family fervently resisted the suggestions from the brother “staging” the house for sale. In another, the family ticked off a list of reasons why none of the three houses the other brother showed them were “perfect.” There was always that one thing from their list that was missing.

Can you relate to the families’ resistance to change and search for perfection?

On the show, selling one home and buying another is about more than simply physically moving one’s household. This sort of transition triggers a multitude of other changes…and emotions. Not unlike any other type of major life change you might willingly initiate or be forced to make.

Watching these families wrestle with resistance and struggle through the trade-offs to arrive at an ultimate choice was a fascinating observation in both human behavior and the dynamics of relationships. Especially relationships between people, what makes them feel most at home, and, of course, money. It’s like an anatomy class where what is being dissected is how you go about choosing (or not).

(Not) Your Everyday Choices

Yes, you make hundreds of “easy, small” choices everyday. Ones that while they may be necessary don’t qualify as life-changing or have far reaching consequences. But have you examined them for clues as to how you approach the larger, more complicated choices? Especially as regards money and where (or how) you live?

(Sidenote: If you have difficulty making small choices, you will have difficulty making large ones, too. Patterns of behavior are patterns of behavior!)

So, have you ever unpacked how you make the choices you make? How you weigh trade-offs? How you make peace with compromises?

The reason I ask is because understanding how you make the choices you make is an exercise that, while it wouldn’t make for good TV drama, can make for less drama in real life.

Here’s what to explore…

Time

How long does it take you to make a choice? Do you find you take longer when there is more at stake?

I don’t know how much time actually elapses to create a 60-minute show. But they do have a natural deadline of synchronizing the time to get the house ready for sale with putting in an offer for the house they ultimately buy. And one thing that is glaringly clear is that having more time to think about what you’re going to do doesn’t necessarily lead to “good” thinking or choosing. Unless that additional time is used to gather more research that will lead to a more informed choice. But even here, there comes a moment when it is simply time to choose.

Suggestion: Start taking notice of how long it takes you to make your choices.

Self-doubt

You can feel free to challenge me here, but I am of the belief that there isn’t one choice you can make that doesn’t come with trade-offs. None. You might discount the ones that are “no big deal,” but that doesn’t mean the trade-off isn’t present.

However, when you are confronted with a trade-off that bumps up against your notion of what “having it all” looks and feels like is also when you might begin to venture down the rabbit hole of questioning yourself, your intuition or gut-feeling. Or, pushing back on the advice of experienced professionals.

During the show, this would become evident when competing priorities revealed themselves. For example, maybe the couple wanted the new home to be in the same school district as the current home, but that competed with finding a house with a price tag within their budget. Or, they found a house that was within budget, but it didn’t have a large enough backyard.

The back-n-forth between the couples and between the couples and the brothers proved this fact of life: Trade-offs on paper (aka in theory) never quite feel the same as the ones you actually have to live with once you agree to a compromise.

Suggestion: Start paying closer attention to the variations between what you thought you’d do and what you end up doing. And be sure to do this for your “small” and “large” trade-offs. Again…patterns.

Fear

The way life works is that you and I are responsible for the results that follow from our choices. And, you can’t self-select when this responsibility applies.

There are two big reveals at the show’s end. One is the new look of the current house; the second is of the house the family ultimately decides to purchase. However, right before this is shown, there is quick recap for viewers. It consists of “before/after” highlights of the current home, along with a recap of the three houses – including why the brother chose them and how the pros/cons of each compare to the family’s specifications. Plus, we get a chance to eavesdrop on the conversation as the couple deliberates one last time. To my ears, this is when you hear most loudly the fear of making the wrong choice.

When you are wrestling with resistance and struggling to identify the trade-offs with which you’ll be most comfortable, I believe this is when the fear of making the wrong choice — as measured by consequences you don’t want or didn’t anticipate – raises its head.

Suggestion: Don’t try to avoid fear. Acknowledge it and work to discover what the fear is trying to get you pay attention to.

Look, we all have preconceived notions about what the outcomes of our choices will look and feel like. And when reality ends up being anything but, it sometimes is a wonderful surprise. At other times, it sucks. These families don’t want an “it sucks” moment.

In this way and many others, the families profiled on “Property Brothers” are not unlike you and me. There’s something they want to change. Change requires choices – not just having them, but making them. The easy and the tough ones.

I hope you’ll take the time to examine how you choose, so you can get even better at choosing what’s best for you and who and what is most important to you.

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