Sometimes you want something new. Sometimes you feel like you can’t start just yet. You wanna wait for Monday. Everything’s gotta be just right, right? Well, guess what? Whatever you are not changing you’re choosing.

A white coffee mug sits on a book on a porch rail in the foreground. There are trees and rolling green hills in the background. The text reads "Whatever You Are Not Changing You're Choosing."

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post, let’s talk about Rush for a second.

Yes, Rush the band.

I’ve been writing a jukebox musical in the back of my head for years now. It’s based on a Dungeons and Dragons party, and each character sings songs from a particular band.

The wizard will be an older character who has seen some shit and speaks only in Rush lyrics. And when our young paladin (who will be the main character of the story and expresses themself with Bon Jovi songs) asks the wizard for advice, the wizard will hit the paladin with Freewill.

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears, and kindness that can kill.
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose free will.”

Is this a bonkers thing to admit to thinking about? Yes.

(But consider the bard in this story and how they speak in AC/DC lyrics! Are you on board yet?)

Anyway, all of this is to say that not making a choice is a choice in and of itself, and cantankerous old wizards who like Rush agree.

So when it comes to things you want to change in your life, you have to actively choose to do things differently. Because what you are not changing you’re also choosing.

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Whatever You Are Not Changing You’re Choosing

I totally get that this can sound like a platitude. So stick with me as we parse the meaning here. It’s not hard to get by any means, but it’s the sort of thing that can punch you in the gut when you realize you may have been fucking around a lot more than you actually intended to.

Origins of the Whatever You Are Not Changing You’re Choosing Quote

Maybe you’ve heard of the whatever you are not changing you’re choosing Laurie Buchanan quote. If not, head on over to Laurie Buchanan’s blog and check out that tag.

It’s not uncommon to see the quote presented this way:

“Whatever you are not changing you’re choosing. Read that again.”

Maybe you do need to read it again. Maybe you don’t.

But if you read the phrase and it hit you in a way that made you realize you have some work to do, may I suggest you head over the Laurie’s site and check out her book Note to Self?

(I also have this post on books to change your mindset, if you’re looking to make some changes in your life.)

Whatever You Are Not Changing You’re Choosing Meaning

Okay. So let’s get to the Marisa Mohi remix of this idea.

If you’ve been anywhere around this blog for a while, you know that I believe who I am and what I do are inextricably linked and I’ve shared a thing or two about how to change your life completely. Also, busy is a choice and I will die on that hill.

I also know that life isn’t really a linear path and sometimes you need reminders when you get a little too comfortable doing things that aren’t the goal.

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And it can be hard to feel like an active participant in your own life. We all can control certain things, but there’s always so much out of our control. You’re not crazy if you feel like you have no say in what goes on around you. But it’s important to remember that you can control what you can control.

For me, remembering what I’m actively choosing has been helpful because those are the things I can actually control. And that means I’ve been stepping back and taking a long, hard look at my schedule.

What Have I Been Choosing?

For me, lately, I’ve been struggling to start the day productively. I know that if I start writing first thing, I get so much more done and I feel good about it. Plus, the writing sessions are so much more enjoyable because I’m not trying to get into the zone the way I have to if I focus on something else first.

So what have I been doing instead?

Reader, I have stumbled into a bad habit or twelve lately. Your girl likes to drink three cups of coffee while listening to music and staring off into space.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that’s an important part of writing. The brain needs some space to just have wild thoughts. But the brain doesn’t need that space first thing in the morning when it could be writing some pretty badass scenes in whatever novel I’m working on. That’s when the brain needs to get some words on the page.

I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting much writing done the past couple of weeks. Then I realized I was pretty much choosing not to.

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How to Choose the Change

Okay. So if you’re like me, you can identify the issue but only after a few weeks of the issue persisting. That’s the first step.

(I’m sure many of you can see the consequences of your own actions more clearly than I can. Good for you!)

The next step is making the change happen. But here’s the thing:

IT’S NOT ALWAYS SOMETHING I WANT TO DO.

I’m a writer. I know this about myself. But I don’t always enjoy writing.

The part of writing I love is the wild hallucination that happens when ideas get to dance in my brain. And this is why I have spent so many mornings staring off into space while listening to music. It’s easier to access the hallucination that way.

Because writing? It’s not always like that. In fact, sometimes it’s so boring and I can’t string together more than four words without wanting to quit.

But I have reached the point where I hate being behind on my deadlines more than I want the instant gratification of a good brain wanderin’.

And that’s where the real change comes in. It’s the moment of something having to give.

Otherwise, you’ll keep choosing not to change.

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