How To Use the Choice Expansion Pattern to Expand Your Choices


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“Destiny is no 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.” — William Jennings Bryan

By practicing the Choice Expansion pattern, especially for key choices, you can motivate yourself more effectively, find better alternatives, and make better choices that lead to better outcomes.

We make choices every day.

Some choices lead to better outcomes that serve us.  Other choices lead to outcomes that work against us.

There are multiple challenges here.

One challenge is that we aren’t always aware of the choice points throughout our day.

We run on auto-pilot.  Another challenge is that we don’t always slow down when we should to think through, and expand our options, if we don’t like the default option.

A third challenge is we don’t always step into the future and imagine the likely outcome of our choices.

You can expand your choices in any situation by focusing on the choice point, imagining alternative paths, and imagining the likely outcome of each path.

In the book, The Big Book of NLP Techniques, Shlomo Vaknin shows us how to use the Choice Expansion pattern to reveal more options, check the likely outcomes of our choices, and choose better paths.

Overview of the Choice Expansion Pattern

You can improve your motivation by raising your awareness of your ability to choose and change your outcomes on a daily basis.

It comes down to your ability to see and shape your choice points, your choices, and, therefore, your outcomes.  You can also use the Choice Expansion pattern to stop making choices that lead to self-defeating outcomes.

Vaknin writes:

“Generate motivation by harnessing the power of choice points. 

You could say that choice points occur when you consciously or unconsciously make a commitment of some kind

A defining characteristic of a choice point is that it symbolically or literally, makes it difficult to turn back. 

For example, when you sign an agreement, take marriage vows, or shake on a bet, you have passed a choice point. 

This pattern also helps you identify and use the many smaller choice points that, collectively, have a big impact on our lives.”

Here is a simple step through …

Step #1.  Scan Through Your Day

Scan your day to review your choice points, your choices, and the outcomes you produced.

Vaknin writes:

“What choice points did you go through and what choices did you make? 

What outcome did you intend to produce at those points? 

For the choices that produced results of some kind, how effective were your choices?”

Step #2. View that Choice Point from the Third Perceptual Position

In this step, float back to that choice point, and view it from the third (dissociated) perceptual position.

Step #3. Select Choice Points and Imagine Your Options.

In this step, you select choice points and you come up with multiple options for each choice.

Vaknin writes:

“Select the two or three most important choice points (or more if you have time). 

For each, think of three different choices that you could have made.  Imagine actually making these choices and taking actions based on those choices, one choice at a time.”

Step #4.  Imagine Your Likely Outcomes for Each Choice.

In this step, imagine the likely outcome of each of these imaginary choices.

Step #5.  Imagine Experiencing Each Outcome.

In this step, for each outcome, imagine experiencing it in the first person.

Step #6.  Test.

Test your results.

Vaknin writes:

“As you experience the next few days, notice if your acuity for sizing up choices has improved, and, whether your results are any better. 

Practice this pattern on choices with an eye to becoming more conscious of what outcomes you project.  You will realize that countless such projections occur unconsciously, sometimes to our regret.”

Practice Your Ability to Predict Outcomes

You can use the pattern to become more aware of your choices and improve your ability to predict outcomes.

Vankin writes:

“Make a special commitment to use it on key choices that tend to cause problems for you such as undermining a commitment to your well-being.  Practice improving your ability to predict outcomes as well.  Note any ways that you could enhance the pattern.”

You won your destiny when you exercise your ability to flex your power to choose your response.

Keep in mind that sometimes, to avoid analysis paralysis, you just need to satisfice.

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