Small Choices Big Impact

Following is an article by Wendy Appel, Author of the recently released InsideOut Enneagram: The Game-Changing Guide for Leaders.  I am thrilled to introduce Wendy and her book as a wonderful resource to support your personal journey to leadership mastery.

Every moment of every day, we are making choices.

“When should I get up in the morning?” “What is the first thing I’ll do when I get out of bed?” “What will I eat for breakfast or will I eat breakfast? “Today I am going to buy that shiny new object and accrue debt.” “I can cross this ethical line, just once.”

On and on … we make little daily choices.

They add up. Over time, these choices become our habits –  conscious or unconscious, wanted or unwanted.

While they may seem somewhat benign at first, these little choices make up how we live daily.

Unfortunately there are some choices that are not in our best interests or in service of our commitments and values, so our mind starts rationalizing: “OK. Just this once. A few more times won’t hurt. I’ll have that conversation with X later. I’ll start/stop doing X tomorrow, next week, after I turn 50 … ”

Yet think about it. This is your one precious life. How do you want to create your life?

All these little choices add up to the life each of us chooses to create. It is the “drip, drip” of the water that over time carves out a rut that keeps us stuck, or a flow that carries us forward.

These aren’t just habits that we have at home. I am talking about the whole YOU. Meaning, your private and public self; the way you are with your family, friends AND the way you LEAD. There is no separation, much as we’d like to think so.

Wherever we go, there we are.

Some of these choices create the pile of dirt and dust under the carpet that we ultimate trip over, and end up hurting ourselves, and often others.

These little habits become our patterns of living and interacting. They affect our mental, physical, spiritual health and wellbeing.


…If I decide, upon waking to meditate and this becomes a habit, my spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing can be enhanced dramatically.

…If I choose to build exercise into my day, my overall health will improve.

…If I choose to support rather than criticize, my interactions with people will become more joyful and loving and they in turn, will benefit. I will feel better about myself too!

When faced with BIG CHOICES–the forks in the road that determine the course of our life–our little choices feed into the forks we ultimately choose.

These choices determine the course and direction for our life. Yet, many of us are sleepwalking down the road.  These BIG CHOICES take us on a path and on an adventure to an unknown destination. Should I go to university? Drop out of school?  Marry X? Have children?  Take X job? Leave X job? Follow my dream? Buy that house? Move to X? What are the little habits that feed how we make these big decisions and which path we choose?

Then there are these seemingly small, yet BIG CHOICES – the ones we make between staying true to our core beliefs and ethics or not.  Unfortunately, once we violate our own ethics, it becomes easier and easier to cross that line again, until we rationalize it as OK, “everybody else is doing it …” Suddenly we are on a path, perhaps to our own self-destruction and to hurting countless others.

The GOOD NEWS is that we can course-correct. The locus of control is within us.

We can either choose to create our lives consciously, with vision, purpose and intent, or be carried away by invisible currents to a destiny not of our conscious choosing.

I have found the Enneagram to be a useful shortcut to self-awareness, because it helps bring many of these unconscious habits and patterns to light. It gets to why we think, feel and act in patterned ways and to our beliefs about ourselves and the world that undergird our choices.

If you want to peel back the curtain on your life and begin to consciously choose the path you are walking, the Enneagram is a great way to do that. I can say that the insights have been breathtaking and life changing for me personally and I have witnessed this for countless others.

With awareness, you choose: Where do you want to place your focus, time, attention and energy?

Your day can be like a meditation. Observe your thoughts and choices. Don’t judge. Watch. Now what? Choose wisely. Move toward creating the life you desire. Ask yourself, “what will get me closer to the results I want?

This is your one precious life, what do you choose to create?


Enter A Comment

Michele Price (@prosperitygal)   |   06 July 2012   |   Reply

YES, those that seem to be simple daily habits your create, has everything to do with how you day progresses. I have intentionally created my days to start with meditation and creating – to allow for that focus to continue flowing through out the day.

Wendy Appel   |   07 July 2012   |   Reply

Hi Michele,
How wonderful that you start your day with meditation. I am sure it makes all the difference.
After reading this blog, a colleague commented to me that her boyfriend always tells her, “the way you go through your day is the way you live your life.”
Thanks for stopping by to comment.

Deb Costello   |   07 July 2012   |   Reply

I have always felt the people don’t give enough weight to little choices. Stone by stone we build our lives through the little choices, and each, carefully made, building the foundation of our larger life. Thank you for this reaffirmation. I look forward to reading more from you.

Wendy Appel   |   07 July 2012   |   Reply

Hi Deb,
Beautifully said. Stone by stone creates such a powerful image. Little choices are habit forming. Before we know it …
Delighted you stopped by to comment. Thank you.

Linda   |   09 July 2012   |   Reply

Dear Wendy:

Thank you for your wise words! I appreciate your insights so much at this time of transition in my life.


Wendy Appel   |   09 July 2012   |   Reply

Hi Linda,
You are very kind. I wish you all the best during this time of transition. It’s a great time to reflect, re-awaken and re-pattern – one choice at a time.
With Gratitude,

Heather Maggio   |   10 July 2012   |   Reply


I will pray for you as you are uncovering your path. If you are interested in more direction and resources in your transition, visit chickswithchoices.com/blog/?s=jeremiah for a Decision Making series that Kim Galgano, founder and writer of Chicks with Choices wrote for decisions ranging from the color of shirt we should wear to life’s major transitions.

I will be praying for you on your journey.
Heather Maggio–Chicks Exec Admin

Jon Mertz   |   09 July 2012   |   Reply

Very well said, Wendy! Our choices serve as our strategy in life and leadership, and then our daily decisions have a context in which they are made. Rather than being random and ineffective, we can become focused and purposeful.

I cannot wait to get started on my enneagram. I will be starting as soon as possible. Thank you for your great guest post here!


Wendy Appel   |   09 July 2012   |   Reply

Hi Jon,
Thanks so much for taking your time to comment. I like what you said, “rather than being random and ineffective, we can become focused and purposeful.”
Since I wrote the post, I am paying more attention to all of my little decisions during the day and making some shifts where I have the energy and will. No small matter. Inertia is a strong force.
We teach what we have to learn 🙂
Can’t wait to hear how your journey with the Enneagram unfolds. Stay in touch!

Heather Maggio   |   10 July 2012   |  

LOVE that you didn’t just read this, but that you became purposeful in trying to uncover your unique path! If you are interested in more on choice and a decision making process go to http://chickswithchoices.com/blog/?s=jeremiah and read Chicks with Choices series on Decision Making.

Heather Maggio   |   10 July 2012   |   Reply

We have choosen to create an authentic online community, Chicks With Choices, based on the endless daily decisions that we are all faced with.

Kim Galgano, writer and founder of Chicks, has seen women become paralyzed by decisions and choices and writes to help women uncover their unique path that God has created for them by helping them identify and clear the weeds they have allowed to cover up their paths.

I loved reading your blog and we would love it if you would want to be a guest blogger for us as well.

Wendy Appel   |   10 July 2012   |   Reply

Hi Heather,
Sounds like Kim is doing some great work. So glad you enjoyed my blog and I appreciate your offer to guest blog. I will be in touch.

Heather Maggio   |   11 July 2012   |   Reply

We would love to hear from you. Thanks for sharing such great words of wisdom in this chaotic world full of noise.


Fountain Abani   |   13 July 2012   |   Reply

Thank you Wendy for this beautiful article, the consequences of choices and decisions we make on the quality of the life we lead is self-evident to everyone that cares enough to purse and reflect. But most times we fail to see the big impact of the small choices we make every moment of our lives.
Great job Wendy, I look forward to hearing talk more on this.

Wendy Appel   |   14 July 2012   |   Reply

Thank you for your comment, Fountain. Just lovely. Glad you stopped by to share your reflections.

Kathie Dorus   |   16 July 2012   |   Reply

Great post, it really makes you think. I’ll have to read Wendy’s article, “InsideOut Enneagram: The Game-Changing Guide for Leaders.”

Wendy Appel   |   16 July 2012   |   Reply

Hi Dorus,
So glad you found my post thought provoking. Then it did its job!
You can download the first chapter of my book on my website to give you an idea what’s in store …
Thanks for taking your time to comment.
My Best,

Susan Mazza   |   18 July 2012   |   Reply

Thanks for the great post Wendy and to all of you for the great conversation here!

Wendy Appel   |   18 July 2012   |   Reply

You’re welcome, Susan. Thanks for creating the space and opportunity.

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