Recently, I spent some time learning how to run. I didn’t know that I couldn’t run, but as it turns out, the way I was “running” was actually a form of physical abuse.After every run, my shins would feel close to breaking and my interest in running vanished. Since then, I’ve realized that the way I was running was the cause of the pain, and I wasn’t really running at all.  So I’m trying to learn to run.

From this learning I realized something.

I realized that for over 20 years I had no interest in running because I was wrong about what running was.

And it struck me that many of the things I thought were true are not. When I was a kid I thought that 30 years old was the beginning of the end. I won’t tell you how I thought babies were made – rest assured it is funny in retrospect. All of these things turned out to be false(ish).

Even positive things like the foods I enjoy or my favorite color were all determined by a version of me from a long time ago. So, if I’m feeling powerless in my life it may well be because of the choices I made a while ago – and there is no harm in re-evaluating them. Let me pick a new favorite color or new favorite flavor of ice-cream, or choose a new mood. What about trying a new behavior?

So here I am. Everything is different, and the same. I now evaluate and own my decisions as opposed to them being the product of habits/decisions I made when I was 12 or 22 or 32. I can choose something different right now. You can too.

There’s a lot of advice about “being in the now” but they never tell you how to do it. The trick is actually simple, but not necessarily obvious.

Decide in the moment how to respond.

Don’t decide and then wait for your turn to speak. Don’t decide on what you want and then try to get it. For now – until you master this. Decide in the moment – and make sure to honestly choose as if you were looking at the situation in a whole new way. If you have a hard time with this – try getting into situations that you are unfamiliar with. This may help you start deciding in the moment. Right now.

In the same way that our past can lock us into behaviors that we don’t like or didn’t plan for; our visions of the future can do the same. Are you sure you still want what you think you wanted? When you detach from expectations and preferences, you gain the freedom to decide what you want to do in the moment at the moment.

And the freedom to decide what to do now is critical to exploring new paths and creating new futures.