Challenging Expectations: A Lesson in Intentional Decision-Making
Today, I’m going to share a little story with you about expectations, norms, and about what it means to challenge them. It’s about a day, a line, and a lesson that’s stayed with me longer than I ever thought it would.
I’m Rishma Walji, and you’re listening to the XO Conversations Podcast. Your go-to podcast for all things personal growth and intentional living. If you’re making decisions in your life, big or small, and you want to make sure your choices feel good to you, and fit with the kind of life you want to live, grab my list of 5 Must-Ask Questions Before Making A Decision. You can get it free on the website, livingxo.com/questions
The Day We Chose Creativity Over Conformity
So here’s the story and the lesson that reminds me to keep driving my life.
So picture this, we were in Montreal, a city that’s close to my heart. We were there for a sort of ‘remember when’ type of vacation. Three families, six kids ranging from 2 to maybe 7 years old. We had the day completely planned, we were going to visit the Biodome. The kids were already giddy just thinking about seeing all the different plants and animals.
But here’s the thing about plans and kids: they don’t mix.
After many bathroom breaks, snack demands and tangled stroller straps (seriously you need a lot of coordination to manage those things), we finally get there.
And we see this monstrous line down the block and wrapping around the corner. It’s the kind of line that makes you hesitate. You know, it makes you wonder are we even going get in before the place closes, is it even worth it to try?
Breaking Free from ‘Supposed To’: Redefining Life’s Norms
Do you stick it out, or do you bail, and go for ice cream instead? Tempting.
Most days, I’d probably join the line without a second thought. It’s what you do, right? But that day, something inside me paused. Maybe it was the parental desperation or just wanting to get those kids face-to-face with some nature and animals.
Whatever it was, we didn’t just stand in the very long, very slow moving line. We tried to be creative.
We started looking around. Is there another door? Another line up that might be shorter?
And then, tucked away in the shadows, we see a sign. Not a metaphorical sign but a literal, actual sign that says, online ticket holders only.
And it was deserted!
No line up, no wait—just a smooth path to the entrance. It kinda felt too-good-to-be-true. I mean, it couldn’t be that easy, could it?
Why wasn’t anyone else going in that way?
Embracing Curiosity: The Key to an Extraordinary Life
So we pulled out our phones a bit unsure, but with a we all had our tickets. We ducked under the barrier, slid over the empty line and all 12 of us were inside within minutes. Just like that, we bypassed the wait and walked into a world of ecosystems and wonder, almost like magic.
And as we entered, passing the hundreds of people who had been waiting for who knows how long, I felt like I cheated or something. I still couldn’t believe it. When we were inside, one of the dads with us threw out an off handed comment that included the words “above average”.
Life Lessons from Skipping the Line: Choosing Differently
As I moved through the Biodome, I kept turning that experience over in my mind. There was a lesson there, in that decision to step away from the line. It wasn’t about being smarter or better than anyone else. It was about not settling into the status quo. It was about seeking another way, being creative, taking a chance.
Alternative Paths to Your Life Goals: Seeking New Possibilities
Average is when you just follow the crowd, when you do things the way you’re expected to, or because they’ve always been done that way.
And trust me, I’ve been average many times in my life. We all have. It’s easy to go with the flow. It takes less effort, and less risk, and less problem solving.
But since that day, these 2 words have resonated in my mind many times. Because I’m not looking to live an average life. I want to have an XO (extraordinary life), in big ways and even small but meaningful moments. Not in an arrogant way but it’s a reminder for me, to look for opportunities, and possibilities.
To me, living ‘above average’ isn’t about comparison, it’s about choice, intention, and creativity.
This lesson was more than just family memory, it was a slice of life. And choosing differently can make all the difference.
Living with Purpose: Making Choices with Intention
So, let’s extrapolate this story .. into insights for our daily lives. How do we make life happen, instead of letting it happen to us?
The world is full of ‘that’s just the way it is’. But is it really?
We all have challenges that get in the way of living life the way we want to. We all have patterns and constraints that limit what we can do or how we can do it. And sometimes, we have to make difficult choices and give something in order to get something else. But if you know what you want in life, and if you’re willing to get creative, and do something different. Maybe something you’ve never done before or even seen being done, you might be able to find creative ways to move forward despite the challenges. Ask yourself Is there a better, faster, or more joyful, more aligned way to get what i want?
Redefine the Norm:
There are too many ‘supposed to’s’ and habits that we follow without question. It’s easy to accept ‘just because’ as an answer to life’s routines. I don’t just mean be different for the sake of it; it’s about being deliberate. What if we started asking ‘why’ or even ‘why not’? Instead of just following along, we’d be taking more of an active role in life. And It could open up options you didn’t even know were there.
Life is anything but predictable. When things don’t go as planned, it’s tempting to get frustrated. It would be so easy to just give up—but what if giving up wasn’t the only option? What if, when Plan A falls through, we thought, ‘OK, let’s try this another way’. It’s not about pretending the tough stuff doesn’t sting—but we don’t want to let stress or setbacks take over.
The concept of ‘above average’ became almost a mindset. To see what others don’t, not because you’re better, but because you’re paying attention. To start asking, ‘Is there another way?’—not out of entitlement, but from genuine curiosity. And creativity. Because even if we know what we want, life happens. So we have to choose, do we wait in line, do we leave, or do we look for other options.
So the next time you’re faced with a problem, think about the time I skipped the line… It’s a metaphor for the lines we stand in because we think we’re supposed to. For the times we forget there might be another way—a way that asks us to be a bit brave, a little vulnerable, and to trust in our own choices.
Figure out what you want, and then find a creative way to move towards it.
If today’s episode sparked something in you, if you’re feeling like you’re stuck in line waiting for your turn, I’d love to invite you to something special. It’s a workshop about intentional decision-making, about finding your own side entrance to the places you want to be.
Get more information at livingxo.com/workshop
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Talk to you next time.