In storytelling class, the lecturer may discuss the concept of compelling choice. For these lecturers, compelling choice is the pivot on which the plot turns in the classical story structure. The main character faces dilemmas at various points and has a choice between two or, even better, more choices of action, but the character chooses one way because the choice compels more than the other possibilities.
Real life is faced with such challenges as well at all sorts of levels. I wish that in real life we would always make the best choices, but in stories a character is a character with its own personality, beliefs and ways of doing things. It’s just that some choices compel the protagonist more than others. This is good material for the writer. The character can make authentic choices because one choice was more compelling that the other possibilities. In real life this can be as difficult as choosing the most unselfish course of action.