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Posts tagged Decisions
"I'll have time later"

Is this really a relevant reason to delay something that’s important enough to do today?

And — is it really a relevant reason to keep something around that’s not important enough to do today?

What using time in the future enables us to do is alleviate the tension of deciding today. We’re hiding.

What’s more, that time that feels so free in the future isn’t actually any more cheap than our time today; it simply feels that way. It’s a mirage.

This is a downward spiral of pressure, firefighting, and unmade decisions. Or we can make the choice of the professional — she decides, today.

What would you do if you weren't thinking about the response?

It’s a reality — the responses people have affect us.

Sometimes that impact happens before we even act, before they have a chance to respond. The anticipation can be enough for us to alter the way we show up.

What happens then is that our decisions begin to look a lot more like a carefully curated choreography than a series of choices that reflect reality, truth, and perhaps most of all, our true selves.

We’ll never be able to control others’ response. We can always control how we show up.

The treadmill of life

It’s possible to spend a whole day exerting energy, engaging with our environment, and working hard and still not create any material forward motion.

Hamsters do it all the time.

Humans do it too. It’s possible, in fact, to spend a whole life that way.

I don’t think it’s because we lack dreams. I think it’s much more likely because we’re afraid to turn our dreams into something real, defined, and able to be pursued. Because then our dreams might become something that doesn’t come true, instead of staying a dream.

Imagining we’re going somewhere when we really aren’t might be a fine way to work out; it makes for a pretty miserable life though.

It’s time to move. Go make something real.

Triggered

Generally, it happens so fast that it’s tempting to call acting on our impulse the first thing that happens when we’re triggered.

In fact, the first thing that happens is feeling the impulse.

The second thing that happens is choosing what we do with that impulse.

The third thing, maybe, is acting on it.

We call it being triggered for a reason — it’s sharp, it’s instantaneous, and it’s activating. None of that means that it’s fully clear as to why we were triggered.

It’s quite likely that if we act immediately, we’ll be passionate and convicted.

It’s actually not all that likely though that our passion and conviction will be productive, or even focused on the issue that’s really going on.

We’ll be more helpful to everyone (ourselves most of all) if we pause first and look with curiosity at what’s truly happening.

Photo by David von Diemar on Unsplash
Waiting for space

If we put off prioritizing our important work until there’s space in our calendar to tackle it, we’re unlikely to find the space.

If we delay our important work until our urgent list is empty, we shouldn’t be surprised if that day never comes.

There will always be something ‘urgent’ asking for our time and greedily taking as much of it as we’ll give. And there will always be plenty of ways our calendar will fill itself up all on its own.

Autonomy is ours until we give it away. Doing so is the work of amateurs. We are professionals. And so we decide.

On purpose. With intent. For ourselves.

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash
Step 12

A mistake that many of us make in our decision making is basing our decision about whether to take the first step or not on a future step down the road that makes us nervous. It’s a mistake because, probably, the step that is making us nervous is simply one possibility for how the future could play out — hardly a certainly. And yet we treat it as such.

What we’re calling Step 12 is in reality simply a potential future path — one of many, in fact. The truth is there’s many variations of how the first 11 steps play out that would impact the reality of Step 12.

Deciding to take Step 1 does not force us to take Step 12. It would be like not going to the zoo because we might fall into the lion exhibit. Irrational isn’t it?

Photo by Jeremy Avery on Unsplash
“Don’t chase the night”

I heard this catchy piece of advice a lot as a university student and young adult.

Maybe a better way to get at the truth behind this phrase could be: Don’t chase the outcome.

Just like we ultimately can’t control the results of the night, no matter how hard we chase it, we also can hardly control any outcome that really matters. There will always be circumstances beyond our grasp. That’s life.

We can continue to futilely resist this reality if we wish, or we can choose to focus on the thing we can control — our decisions.

Chase good decisions. Over time, this is the path of progress (and winning the night).

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash
A framework for growth

Yesterday I wrote about split-second decisions and the challenge they sometimes present.

It’s always going to be somewhat challenging to decipher the decision we’ll be most proud of making in these instances, however there is a framework that we can follow to help increase our odds. If we work through it ahead of time, we’ll have some readymade reference points to guide us towards a decision we’ll be proud of. Here it is:

It starts with getting intentionally clear with ourselves about who we want to be in this world. Write it down, and be specific.

Over time then, the work is to fill in the gap between who we are today and who we want to be tomorrow. We learn to look for the values, postures, and beliefs that lead us toward the person we want to be. These can serve as our filters and shortcuts to getting to the heart of a matter.

And then we practice applying them — these are the split-second decisions. We practice over and over. And slowly, drip by drip by drip as we try on our new reference points, we find the ones that light the way towards the decisions that make us proud.

Split-second decisions

They happen all the time in life.

We get a call from our friend asking for help this evening when our plan was to recharge.

Our sister stops by after a rough day just as we’re rushing out the door to a dinner we’re tight on time to make.

They’re tough calls to make even now; in the moment they can feel impossible.

The best we can do is to do our best.

We’re not going to have a perfect record on these in life, and that’s ok. More harmful than the initial decision is the self-inflicted punishment afterwards of beating ourselves up about it.

Acknowledge that we wish we made a different choice, yes. Even more-so acknowledge why we wish that, yes. But maybe skip the part where we’re hard on ourselves about it. It’s doubtful that will do us any good.