What are you thinking when you’re driving in your car and you’re approaching a traffic signal? Maybe your thoughts are different depending on what color it is.
If it’s red, do you slow down and prepare to stop. If it’s green, do you proceed through it, continuing on your way.
But what about if it is yellow?
Do you slow down or speed up? Maybe that depends on how far you are from the intersection and your internal calculations about whether you can make it through before it turns red?
Why the traffic quiz?
Well, I’m wondering if the answer to these questions reflects how we live the other parts of our lives and the decisions we’re likely to make.
How much risk are we willing to take and what does that say about us?
Since I asked the question, it’s fair that I have to answer it.
My inclination is to gauge the likelihood I can safely make it through a traffic signal, regardless of the color. If it has just turned, the decision is easy. But if it’s been the color it is or I wasn’t able to see the signal because I’m behind something too big to see around or I wasn’t paying close attention, then I’m left with a bit of guesswork.
I believe this is when my default settings take over.
Surprisingly to me, I feel I have different sets of defaults, which means I don’t always have the same reactions or make the same decisions. Sometimes I’ll do the unsafe thing and go through a ‘pink’ traffic light (read this as, it’s actually ‘red’ but just barely). Sometimes I’ll jam on the brakes and manage to stop before going through. Not my wife’s favorite.
So, what do I think this says about me?
Actually, a lot.
I also sense that the decisions I make about everything else mean a lot too. There is always something operating in the background, inspiring, resisting, coaching, avoiding.
The question for me becomes, do I see what moves and motivates me? And if I see it, do I encourage it to inform me and modify my actions, allowing me to choose wisely? To choose consciously?
I’m quite sure the answer is that I don’t always choose wisely. I can see from the results of my decisions that I’m not experiencing the outcomes I had in mind. So, then what?
So, then I’m faced with a different question. Perhaps a two-part question. What are my motivations and what actions will assist me in experiencing my best results?
I think back to the example I began this post with and wonder, what is beyond the traffic light and why do I want to get there and why does it matter when I get there? Not knowing the answers to these questions makes a difference. It makes it challenging to see the bigger picture, the one that’s most important.
In the same way, not knowing what motivates me, what outcomes I want for myself or others and what difference it makes as a part of the grand scheme of my life all matters. The reasons are part of the decisions I make. Knowing the reasons is important, whether it’s a simple traffic light or a critical decision regarding some direction in my life.
Making conscious choices is important to me, so uncovering my reasons sheds valuable light and allows me to see more clearly. Any and all time I spend encouraging myself to see below the surface serves and benefits me. As a reminder, I try to remember this when approaching a traffic signal, no matter what color it is.