The Ripple Effect of Small Choices

Written by on February 6, 2017 in Accountability

The Ripple Effect of Small ChoicesMost of us have at least a general idea what we want in life, a home of our own, meaningful relationships, family, a fulfilling career.

These goals are easy to keep in mind because they are fun and exciting to plan for, and achieving them is often considered a milestone in one’s life.
So what’s the big deal if we occasionally take the path of least resistance on small daily choices?

So what’s the big deal if we occasionally take the path of least resistance on small daily choices?

The big deal is that every choice you make creates a ripple effect leading you toward one of two outcomes — moving toward a future you desire or keeping you stuck living in the past

Where Are Your Choices Taking You?

While it is true that some may try to deceive themselves into thinking small choices don’t count, for most of us it’s simply a matter of being caught up in the noise and busyness of day-to-day living.

We work hard and have full lives and that means making decisions as quickly and efficiently as possible, so we often fall back on our inherent ability to rationalize our behavior and become masters at justifying our choices.

  • I might as well wait until next Monday to start that exercise program (diet, stop smoking, new project, writing, etc.)
  • Maybe if I give him/her one more chance things will change for the better.
  • I really want that new pair of shoes, I can always start saving money next month.

And of course, there are endless other things we conveniently choose to put off to a better, more convenient time, like making that awkward phone call, going to the doctor, making time for yourself, and ending that toxic friendship.

Left unchecked, before you know it, the days, months and years will fly by and then one day you may wake up and wonder, “How in the world did I end up in this life?!”

Following are a collection of carefully selected quotations to inspire you to think about the choices you are making now, and whether they are taking you closer to, or further away from the life you desire to create for yourself.

Reflections on the Ripple Effect of Choices

  • The course of our lives is seldom determined by great, life-altering decisions. Our direction is often set by the small, day-to-day choices that chart the track on which we run. This is the substance of our lives – making choices. ~Gordon B. Hinckley
  • Just as one small drop can make a ripple in the water, the small choices you make each day can affect your future in uncommon ways. ~Author Unknown
  • There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. ~Denis Waitley
  • We often feel paralyzed by choice and as a result, make no choice. But the thing is, making no choice is a choice. If you’re not doing something about it, you’re still doing something about it. ~Chris Guillebeau
  • Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose not to let little things upset you. ~Joel Osteen
  • Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find the here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. ~Eckhart Tolle
  • Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of, and some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we choose to be. ~Graham Brown
  • When a woman chooses to nurture her own wellbeing, she creates a beautiful ripple effect that positively affects everyone else in her life. ~Author Unknown
  • One of the toughest decisions to make is the choice between where you should be and where you want to be. ~Author Unknown
  • We must all make the choice between what is right and what is easy. ~Professor Dumbledore
  • There will always people ready to throw stones in your path. What matters is what you choose to make with them … wall or bridge? Remember, you are the architect of your own life. ~Author Unknow
  • Empowerment is being aware that there is no one to blame for my choices and actions; that I have a personal choice and responsibility for my life. ~Dr. Steve Maraboli
  • Be miserable or be motivated. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. ~Wayne Dyer
  • If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise. ~Robert Fritz
  • One of the greatest feelings in life is the conviction that you have lived the life you wanted to live, with the rough and the smooth, the good and the bad, shaped by your own choices, and not someone else’s. ~Michael Ignatieff
  • There’s always, always a choice. True, the options might really suck, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice. ~Jim Butcher
  • What if instead of allowing the circumstances of your life to define you, you choose instead to claim it all – the joy and the heartache, the successes, the failures and the wounds – as priceless experiences on an amazing journey of self-exploration and discovery? What if you choose to celebrate the person you have become even as you continue to grow into the powerful person you are meant to be? ~Marquita Herald
  • Each choice we make causes a ripple effect in our lives. When things happen to us, it is the reaction we choose that can create the difference between the sorrows of our past and the joy in our future. ~Chelle Thompson
  • Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives. Choice, not chance, determines your destiny. ~Aristotle

The interesting thing is that when you begin to pay closer attention to the smaller, day-to-day choices and what is happening in your life, you may make some surprising discoveries.

You may have gone years – or even decades – without consciously realizing you were wasting time and energy on things that you no longer care about; commitments, and yes, even relationships, in your life that have been just taking up space because you were too busy with other things to notice.

Why not challenge yourself this week to take a little extra time to think about the choices you are making and ask this one simple question … “Will this choice lead to the future I want to create, or will it keep me stuck in the past?”

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Amaka Adindu

    Great post. Just right for the moment for me. Truly life is about choices. The repercussions of the choices we make is a constant remind of the choice we will not make the second by amaka adindu. Everyday is a new challenge and new choices we have to make.

  2. Hi Marquita, Choices we make affect our lives, everyday.
    Great article. I loved all of those quote . I saved some for making into images. My favorite is this one – Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives. Choice, not chance, determines your destiny.

  3. Joyce Hansen

    There’s no question about it. Paying attention to the smaller choices forces you to pay attention to the larger consequences. As I sit here and write this, I am forced to ask myself if eating chips are contributing to my overall health. While I can argue that it’s only a few chips, the rest of my brain tells me it’s more like a couple of bags of chips lately. So. Absolutely right Marquita, little choices do have a ripple effect.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…How to Make Your Brain More ProductiveMy Profile

  4. Mandy Allen says:

    This is really interesting, Marquita, because I was just discussing this very thing with a friend last night. There is a series on UK tv right now (I am not watching it because it’s too violent for me) and it is about the repercussions of one single moment in time and the choice the people made in that moment, and how it has affected all things around them. Your post has all the elements of our conversation in it!

    Enjoy the journey!

  5. Kimba

    Just as one small drop can make a ripple in the water, the small choices you make each day can affect your future in uncommon ways. ~Author Unknown I love this sentiment. One advantage of being in Club 50 is that the view in the rearview mirror offers great perspective. One can see all the small “coincidences” that had tremendous impact.
    Kimba recently posted…Hey, I Know That Troll!My Profile

  6. Summer Price

    I loved your quote by Graham Brown “We are what we choose to be” It is so very true. I am definitely going to start asking myself if this choice will lead me in the direction I want to go. I never really thought about those little choices being a big deal either but you are so right about the ripple effect. Thanks!

  7. Sarit

    Excellent post and great advice. I especially like your use of quotes. Brilliant.
    We always have a choice- Amen!

  8. Ruth Bowers

    Small choices made mindlessly can have such huge consequences. I have a friend who always asks “Is what I’m about to do going to move me closer to my goals or further away?” If it’s closer, do it and if it’s further away, then find something else to do that will get you closer to your goal. I’m trying to live that way now, but sometimes the temptation to take the easy way out is overwhelming.
    Ruth Bowers recently posted…[Friday Five] Effective Blogging – 5 Ways to Know Your Blog is Doing Its JobMy Profile

  9. What a great collection of quotes about ‘choice’ Marquita! One thing I have learned about choice is that sometimes choosing to sit with a question and see what answers arise, is the healthy way to be. Sometimes our choices come from a thinking place and sometimes they come from an intuitive place. I’ve found it is a good practice to trust the choices we are making, as long as they are coming from an inner place of knowing. We can’t go back in time, so in every moment we can recreate our life and make a new choice.
    Beverley Golden recently posted…Healing is an ArtMy Profile

  10. Sue Kearney says:

    What will I make of this? A wall or a bridge?

    This compilation of quotes is so rich! Fits right in to the exploration I’m doing with myself (always first with myself!) and with my clients….About choice, about choice, even when the choice is small. Every choice — we are what we choose to be.

    I love this, as usual!

    Thank you.
    Sue Kearney recently posted…The new normal — connect with your wisdom, choose what you transformMy Profile

  11. Janelle says:

    As a Harry Potter fan, I liked how you included Professor Dumbledore’s quote. This will help me reflect and choose my small choices on my life better!

  12. Vatsala Shukla

    I love your curation of quotes, Marquita, and enjoyed reading each one twice over. Jim Butcher’s quote struck a chord – we always have a choice – so true.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…If you identify with Big Brother Cat’s style of management then you REALLY need to read thisMy Profile

  13. Millen

    Yet another great article, Marquita! I totally agree with you saying that “every choice you make creates a ripple effect leading you toward one of two outcomes — moving toward a future you desire or keeping you stuck living in the past.” I recently chose to slow down, to make time for introspection and self-care so I could feel more aware when I make choices instead of being in a rush of making them. Thank you for sharing so many great quotes – lovely! I am too a quotes’ collector. 🙂

  14. William Rusho

    When I was in Officer Candidate School, they would examine you with a fine tooth comb. If there was lint on your shoulder, or something small like that. There was method in their madness. We would say: “Pay attention to detail, If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves”
    This is true, if you pay attention to the small aspects of your life, the bigger picture is more defined. Avalanches are sometimes started by one small snowball rolling down a hill.
    William Rusho recently posted…Who’s who at the Medieval FaireMy Profile

  15. Maxwell Ivey

    Hi Marquita; Loved the post. I especially loved how you paired quotes from the authors of Harry Potter and THe Dresden Files right along side such self help giants as Wayne Dyer and Joel Osteen. Makes me wish I had a quote on this subject worthy of inclusion. I often remind people that small steps lead to big dreams, but I don’t have one for small choices. I do like the second verse of the river by Garth Brooks. Thanks for sharing, Max
    Maxwell Ivey recently posted…Live on the inside with Laurie Lawson my first in studio TV interviewMy Profile

  16. Sushmita

    I believe our decisions and choices affect each and every step of life for every decision we make had other possibilities too, so it’s all about what we select to go ahead with and what we leave behind.

  17. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    Each day of one’s life, choices are being made but what is shocking is that these choices do make a difference. This post resonates with my blog so much. It reminds me that each day of our lives is precious because the choice we make can either create a legacy or end up in the grave.

    Thanks for sharing. Take care

  18. Not only do I love the quote by the Marquita lady…but I love this one, “There’s always, always a choice. True, the options might really suck, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice. ~Jim Butcher”
    It is work to be aware of our choices, but I have found that focusing on that awareness leads me to better choices. And IF I could badly, it’s a whole lot better if I own that in the moment rather than postpone my responsibility until it festers and becomes worse.

  19. Definitely, my favourite quote us the one from Aristotle. Thx for the thought-provoking post, Marty.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…succumbing to the magic of Lucerne, SwitzerlandMy Profile

  20. Jen Monks

    Time for me to pay closer attention to my smaller decisions. I usually put too much emphasis on the bigger things and put off what I think are insignificant choices. I guess I really needed to read this.

  21. Jeri

    Choices, choices, choices… I am currently going through a reflective phase where I’m looking at some of the choices I’ve made and regretting some of the ways I’ve spent my time. As a whole, humans are great at putting things off for “another day.” Then that point comes where there might be so many days to come or a life event changes the look of the days we do have left. The more active we can be in making choices that matter and lead us to the live we want to live, the better.

  22. Erica says:

    It is an interesting challenge to be cognizant of every choice. It is interesting to be reminded that everything you do really is a choice and that you aren’t necessarily held to it. I can forget that at times. I would imagine that happens to most of us. Making better choices will improve your life, so why not become more mindful? Good post.

  23. PhoeniciaO

    Decisions, decisions.

    It really does make you think about the small decisions you make. At times we do not think about the effect on our life or those around us. I am rarely quick to commit to anything as I know failure to keep it
    up could result in a strained relationship.

    Those quotes are encouraging, particularly the one that states; “choosing not to make a decision is a decision.” Wow!

    I would like to be more of a risk taker and less self critical when I make mistakes.
    PhoeniciaO recently posted…PatienceMy Profile

  24. Rosary says:

    This post is such a great reminder that most often, it’s the little things that count. I agree that we make small decisions every day, and those seemingly insignificant decisions amount to the bigger things in life. I love the quotes too! Thanks for sharing =)

  25. Mark

    This is excellent advice M!

    And I really and appreciate your quote and the unknown author’s quote, where they advise us how to effectively deal with the inevitable stones thrown in our path.

    Meaning, we can either build a bridge or a wall. And you are spot on, when it comes to, leaving small things unchecked, until we almost don’t recognize and or realize how we got to that point in our lives.

    But as you pointed out, the really good news is, we are the ultimate architects of our lives! Great advice as usual M!

    I’ll definitely share this post.
    Mark recently posted…How Sometimes Even Smart Entrepreneurs Miss The Mark With Their Online Marketing!My Profile

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