As American politician William Jennings Bryan once said, "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

Closer to home, my Grandpa Lee used a corollary for the same thought as "There will come a situation that you must make a choice and in doing so, it could make you or break you."

Suffice it to say that as humans, we are the only species with the freedom to make choices. But in return, there are consequences to the choices we make. These consequences can either help us prepare for the future or repair it. If you make a bad choice today, you will repair tomorrow and if you make a good choice today, you will be preparing for tomorrow.

I am not talking about the daily domestic choices like what we are having for dinner or which dress to wear for the party next week. My connotation is the choices that involves relationships, priorities, and those which test our character. Decisions that seem to be more difficult are those that require a deeper level of thought and that could affect your future and even your life. Having success in life is not based on just talent, it involves making key choices in life. The key choices you make – apart from the natural talent you already have – will set you apart from others who only have talent.

Here is some guidance when making clearer choices in life:

1. When faced with a tough choice do not rush in to deciding right away. Take your time to think about the pros and cons of the outcome. My personal method is to mentally list out the pros on one side and cons on the other. After doing that, sometimes you will see that cons are not nearly as bad as you think. This will allow you to start training to think methodically and justify the right decision being made.

2. Think about your goals and values. It is important to be authentic to ourselves. Does the decision we make match our value in life? You do not want to decide and be unhappy with the outcome. Sometimes the choices we make do not take into consideration our integrity and value system. Even though we subsequently live with it, it causes us much unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

3. Explore all possibilities. Look at realistic alternatives. Evaluate the feasibility, risks and implication of the circumstances. All decisions come with some level of risk, so to avoid minimal risk, you need to investigate the situation in detail. Look at the key factors to fully understand the situation before you make the decision.

4. Make your decision. The most important step is to take action and make the decision. You must never evaluate and stay on the fence forever. Even if you are not confident, it is totally ok. Sometimes, making decisions in life does make you feel that way. Ask yourself, does it feel right? And does this decision work best for you now and in the future? When you answer them, you should feel good about the result. By making a decision, you are learning and growing, thus preparing yourself for upcoming tough choices.

5. Evaluate your decision. Once you have made your choice, and put it into play, it is necessary to evaluate it to ensure it works. This final step is very important (if not more than the other steps) as it helps with the development of decision-making skills.

Life is not merely a matter of sitting on the sidelines and not making decisions by playing the nice guy. Rather, it is a matter of choices, and every choice you make defines you. What you start with isn’t up to you because talent is God-given. However, if you want a good hand in a card game, you have to do the great job of playing the hand you have been dealt. That is determined by your choices.

Whenever you start practicing in making the right choices in life, success will soon follow because SUCCESS is a CHOICE.

To sum it up: Who YOU Are + Right CHOICES = SUCCESS.

Belynda Lee, a leadership trainer, speaker and best-selling author, writes on how we can be the best version of ourselves. Visit belyndalee.com to learn more.

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