Jump to page content

Life Choices and Life Chances: How one influences the other

Why is it simply more work for some people than others to make certain life choices?

Much of the debate around some of the biggest determinants of quality of life relates to life choices, and yet most of the conversation about weight, for example, puts the onus on the individual to make better choices.

‘Eat Well and Move More’ has been the advice to parents for over a decade, and despite this being sound advice from a physiological standpoint, it is no coincidence that you are more than twice as likely to be overweight or obese as a child if you live in a less affluent area with limited resources.

This inequality speaks to the limitations of life choices. This in no way means that people from less affluent areas cannot achieve similar heights as people from well-off backgrounds, just that there are more hurdles to jump!

Life chances might include education, ethnicity, gender. All of which are determined largely by chance and where and to whom you are born.

But, as the sociologist Max Weber proposed, it is also about a person’s belief about their life chances which can have a massive impact on the choices they make.

This is why it would be wrong to assume that your start in life is the ultimate determinant for your end in life. Made even more true in the age of the internet, where social mobility is more possible than ever before.

It remains true that people with significant advantages in life have better access to resources for success. However, many of the most successful entrepreneurs have come from less than modest backgrounds, which in some cases has been a driving force for their success.

From my own experiences, mentoring young people from deprived areas, a regular topic of contest is whether to go to University. It’s a huge decision. Young people now don’t want to take the financial risk unless they know without doubt they need the degree to get where they want to go in life.

Then there’s also the chance factor; did your parents go to University. If they did – this sets a norm. They will be able to explain the benefits outside of just the academic, they are more likely to be encouraging regarding the additional ‘character building’ that University can provide.

However, if by chance, your parents didn’t go to University, they do not have first-hand experience of all the benefits. They can be fixated on the degree itself and the potential job opportunities that come from it.

Life chances influence your life choices. Your ability to make choices is related to the freedom available to you through your life-chances.

This happens to a greater or lesser extent in all areas of life.

The tastes, preferences and expectations of the people around you shape your own tastes, preferences and expectations.

But this cycle can be diminished when you find new sources of inspiration, and all of a sudden, what informed your identity before begins to erode and evolve.