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Are you harnessing the power of decision to take control of your life?

October 20, 2017

Steve Jobs famously wore the same clothes everyday. He reportedly did so because he wanted to save his brain power for more important decisions. While such behaviour might seem extreme, what Jobs’ behaviour shows is an awareness of taking even the most seemingly insignificant decisions and the need to continue to be aware throughout the day. In this post I will explain the importance of learning how to make decisions and how to take control of your life as a result.

When Not Making a Decision is Making a Decision

The hard part about making decisions is that even when we’re not making them we are making them: after all, procrastination is a choice not to make a choice and deal with the consequences of inaction rather than the consequences of action.

Some people even go so far as to poll friends and family either in real life or on social media to gather as many inputs as possible before taking a decision.

The problem with such behaviour is that, rather than bring us closer to perfect information, the process of procrastinating or undertaking widescale consultations is that we’re often looking to avoid responsibility. That way, if something goes wrong, we have someone or something else to blame.

How Successful People Make Decisions

In his now infamous 1937 book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill picked out a trend amongst the individuals he considered benchmarks for success: they were all decisive. They made decisions fairly quickly, they committed to the decision, and they accepted the consequences.

What those people learned, either consciously or unconsciously, is once we make a decision we change our mental context. In other words, when we commit to a choice we immediately start to interpret the world in a different manner, which informs our thinking about the problem we are attempting to resolve.

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I see this type of behaviour when people decide to leave the corporate world to start their own business. Too often people are afraid to leave “security” for something riskier that represents an unfamiliar challenge for them. However, once they learn how to make decisions and do it, they realize that everything starts to show up. The same things happens when there are employees debating whether they should let someone go or not; once they make the decision, they find someone else that is a much better fit. Another example is investing in ‘Thinking Into Results’. Before they start the program there’s a lot of back and forth but once they make the decision, everything starts working out.

The Litmus Test

Part of the reason we put-off decisions is to avoid the unknown and to wait for perfect information. Life, however, rarely offers us perfect information with which to make decisions. As a result, we have to become more comfortable with the unknown. We have to become more comfortable accepting that, even if I can’t control the outcome of my decision, I can own my responsibility for it.

Having said that, taking control of our decisions does not require that we become stubborn, inward-focused and inconsiderate. Rather, every decision we make should be tied to a larger goal, and the question we ask ourselves should be is this decision getting me closer or farther from my goal?

If we have a clear vision of where we are and where we are going, each decision we make can get us closer to where we need to be. If we don’t have a clear vision of where we’re going, each decision we make and each decision we don’t make become micro-conflicts in a larger battle about where our lives are taking us.

The power of decision is that once a decision is made we begin to think differently about the problem we’re beginning to solve. As a result we become more action-oriented, and we take steps towards resolution. For this to happen, however, we need to understand where we are headed. Only then can we unleash the power of decision and move forward with the confidence that come what may, we are the authors of our fate.

 

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