Most of us have been advised at one time or another to choose our battles. We know it’s good advice, yet rarely stop and think about the criteria for passing up one battle and choosing to engage in another.
This famous saying is often not attributed to its rightful author, Sun Tzu. As a brilliant Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu was a highly respected general of the vast ancient Chinese army.
He is known not only for his incredible ability to understand warfare and thereby gain an unprecedented level of victory on the battlefield, but also for his impact on Chinese history and culture that is evident even now. He was no less a legend in his own time than he is today.
Sun Tzu is widely accepted as the author of The Art of War, a book of military strategy renowned for it timeless influence on warfare throughout history, even though it was written during the 4th or 3rd Centuries BC.
For you and I in today’s worlds, choosing our battles wisely means to be selective of the problems, arguments, and confrontations that you get involved in. Instead of fighting every problem, you save your time only for the things that matter. This means fighting the most important battles and letting go of the rest.
It is important to keep in mind that retreating from an individual battle does not mean that you are surrendering or declaring defeat in the war. A battle is no more than that – one battle. To continue with the battlefield/war analogy, a battle is simply one skirmish; your ultimate objective is to win the war. Many a pawn has to be sacrificed in a chess match in order to capture your opponent’s king, which is ultimately all that matters in the overall scheme of things.
What are some of the reasons for choosing only the important battles?
- Not everything is important. Some things simply don’t matter in the long run. If you think about what matters 5, 10, even 20 years from now, it’s apparent that many of the things we worry about are small, and we should instead focus on the big important things.
- Accept what you can’t control. Trying to change something that you cannot control will lead to a lot of frustration and unhappiness. And you will never stop fighting those battles unless you can first accept the way things are. Namely, accept other people for who they are. Trying to change them will lead to a lot of wasted time and unhappiness.
- Do a cost-benefit analysis. In the investment world, cost-benefit analysis is a systematic approach to estimate the strengths and weaknesses of a business investment, so that you can determine if this investment is sound.When facing an impending battle, doing a cost-benefit analysis helps you decide if the battle is worth fighting. Ask yourself:
- Do the costs outweigh the benefits? If the answer is “yes,” it’s generally better to let go and move on.
- What are the odds of success? If the odds of success are very low, then it may be better to just move on as well.
You’re Not Perfect, Accept It, Never beat yourself up for making mistakes.This is life. It’s unpredictable. It makes no sense. Shit happens.When you try to be perfect, you’re always at war with yourself. You’re never at peace. Nothing is good enough.You will never get to enjoy life for what it is. Even though it makes no sense; there’s still enough beauty in life.You just have to take off your tunnel vision goggles and see it.
- Your beliefs aren’t necessarily someone else’s and that is alright. One of the first things that you can realize is that the beliefs that you have and the choices that you make aren’t necessarily going to be someone else’s first choice. The great thing about life is that everyone can have their own opinions. You wouldn’t want someone else forcing their beliefs and choices on you right? Yes so try not to do this to others. I have actually ruined many relationships that I have had trying to make others see my view too much.
- Life’s battles are endless but you don’t have to choose them all. With the tips above you can stop arguing as much and you can just be happy with the beliefs and the choices that you have made. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone so you don’t have to worry anymore about trying. There are questions that you can ask yourself to see if the battle is worth arguing about or conversing about. Will it matter to your life if they agree with your or not? Will you change your mind if they don’t agree with you? The answer to both of these questions is probably no. If you can say no to these two questions then there is no need to make a big deal out of it.
- Go for win-win, not win-lose. Should you decide to pick the battle, work toward a win-win situation where both of you will emerge victorious.Some of you may be surprised by my suggestion. Why ‘win-win’ and not ‘win-lose’? Why help my opponent win? you may think. Even though I use “battle” as the analogy, I encourage you to think about your “opponent” as your ally, your friend. The reason is simple: When you have a mindset to squash others, you adopt a scarcity mindset that’s rooted in lack — where there must always be a winner and a loser, where there is a lack of opportunities for everyone.
Are You Choosing Your Battles wisely?
If you tend to face a lot of battles in life, use the tips above to separate the essential battles from the non-essential ones. Focus on the important battles and let go of the rest. This way, you focus your energy to win the big game of life.
In other words in all your battles, accept what you can’t control (the current situation with the car accident) so you can focus on what you can control (your future preparations for such a situation).