There are so many wonderful gifts we receive in our lifetime. As a child, I was always up at 4am on Christmas morning and my birthday, ready and waiting for the gifts I would receive. Then we start to realise gifts don’t always come as wrapped packages, sometimes they come in the form of friendships with great people, the incredible miracle and beauty of nature, and wonderful opportunities that come our way. There is one gift, I receive every day, that I am most grateful for, and that gift is a choice.

I made a lot of very poor choices after I was sacked from the St Kilda Football Club in 1987. I was a very emotionally underdeveloped 23-year-old when I read in a national newspaper one Saturday morning, two weeks after playing for the club in a Grand Final, that I had been de-listed. That is a nice way of saying sacked, dumped and discarded! As a result of that identity destroying event, my lack of perspective took my thinking down a very destructive path. I made some choices I am not proud of, and even regret a little today, more than 30 years later. As a result of the things I said and did, I destroyed any chance of furthering my professional footballing career, and so I will never know how good I could have been.

At the time, I didn’t believe I could choose a different response. I felt like all choice and control had been ripped out of my hands, and I was left feeling very hurt and very broken. In my mind, my reaction and words were necessary and justified. At that moment, I did have the gift of choice, I just didn’t use it wisely, at all. However, there is one choice I made at the time, I will always be grateful I did. As I thought about my football future, I made a choice that surprised many people, including myself. Most players, when they leave the top level of professional sport, find a club they can play with to earn money. I didn’t. I spend the previous seven years playing for a club that was lacking on-field success, and the pressure and stress that created was enormous. Interestingly, after I had my tantrums and the dust settled, the most overwhelming emotion I experienced was relief. I was relieved to be out of that stressful and toxic workplace.

I made the choice to get away from money and try to find the love of playing the game I had lost over the previous years. I chose to go and play for a club in an amateur competition for one year, and then go back and try my hand at playing for money. Well, that one year turned into twelve, and I finished my career at that same club, and it was the best choice I could have made. I made amazing friends, I experienced great success and achievement, and I learned wonderful lessons.

I could easily reel off a list of poor choices I have made and where they led me, but you would need a box of tissues and be depressed for weeks. So, I won’t. I have also made decisions I am proud of, that, at the time didn’t seem logical, but fit with the vision I had for my life. Deciding to write my first book at a time when I was working two businesses, seven days per week and was in close to $100,000 debt, makes no sense. I had no time, no skills, no qualifications, and no idea what I was doing, yet that choice transformed my life.

The great news is that you have the gift of choice and can use it every day, as often as you like. The first thing to understand and accept is that you are already using it, whether you know it or not. Everything you are currently experiencing is because of choices you are making or have already made. That me be a bitter pill to swallow – trust me, I know – but just know that anger, procrastination, blaming, self-loathing, victim-thinking, and any other destructive behaviour is a choice. You will have heard it and read about it many times; whilst you don’t always choose your circumstances, you always – yes always – choose how you respond to them. The other thing to know is that the life you experience has much less to do with those circumstances, and almost everything to do with how you choose to respond to them. That is the gift of choice.

If you are experiencing undesirable things in your life in any area: health, relationships, money, or career, then celebrate. Why celebrate? Because you created the situation through your own choices, which means you can make different choices and turn your life around, in a heartbeat. Let me tell you, in no uncertain terms, my life changed the moment I decided to write my first book. The circumstances I was facing at the time didn’t impact my future, it was the choice I made as a result of my circumstances that did. Isn’t that a great reason to celebrate? I believe so. What an incredible gift choice really is.

In my podcast with super 76-year-old grandma Lynne Bowman called Brownies for breakfast, she is very clear that optimal wellbeing and living a life of joyful longevity comes down to the choices we get to make every single day. So, my friend, I hope this blog has given you reason to rejoice. No matter what you are facing at the moment, you can make a choice that will change your direction in an instant. You are given the gift of choice every moment of every day, so, please, use it wisely. If you do, anything – and I mean anything – is possible. Enjoy the gift of choice today.