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Sep '10

The Power of Decisions

I think it was Tony Robbins that once said: “Our power to make decisions is what proves we are alive” It’s what separates us from the plants and shows that we have a mind. When we’re faced with a challenge or problem in life deciding upon something is the first real step to overcoming it. We can think about or avoid or discuss or procrastinate or plan for some area of our life, but it’s not until we make a definitive decision that we begin to make progress towards its resolution. I think the true power of definitive decisions are often overlooked in life.

From Thought to Decision

During a typical day I think about a lot of different ideas. Things I should be doing, things I shouldn’t be doing, new ideas for making money, new ways to have fun, new things to bring into my life, ect. But the truth is these thoughts are just thoughts. They are fleeting ideas, some good, some interesting, some totally useless, some practical, some stupid, some fun… These ideas come and go and there’s no real reason to invest time in most of them, our minds tend to run all day so if we treated each little thought we had as important we’d never get anywhere. It’s easy for a thought to come in, be classed as unimportant or irrelevant and then dismissed and forgotten.

There’s a huge difference though when we take one of these thoughts and instead of just thinking about it we make a definite decision about it. Taking a fleeting thought and deciding to take action on it makes the thought real and gives it power. It’s no longer a formless idea, it’s been brought into form and it now has power to affect our lives.

Decisions Regarding Goals

One area it’s important to take thoughts and make them into decisions is in the area of goals. If you think about losing weight, well… it’s just a thought and chances are nothing is going to happen from it. Even if you read about losing weight and make yourself a plan, and start eating a special diet and exercise… without a decision about exactly what you want to accomplish your goal will be lacking focus and determination, you might not make it too far.  Once you make a definite decision however, that you will accomplish your goal no matter what, your desire becomes a solid decision and you become clear about what you want to achieve. Once you decide on something you should put your decision in writing and attach a deadline to it. This makes your decision even more solid and focused, keeping you on track as you progress towards your goal.

When you decide to accomplish something no matter what it helps you avoid distractions. In my own life recently I decided that I want to work for myself rather than work for another company. Because of this decision my efforts are focused on finding my own students to teach and yesterday when I was offered a teaching job it was easy for me to decide to turn it down even though it sounded good. Even though the job was tempting it went against my decision to be my own boss so I couldn’t accept it.

Decisions Regarding Your Beliefs

Deciding on what you believe is important in life, helps to make you a congruent person. We all have our own ideas of right and wrong, different morals and values, and when we decide what we believe is important in these areas we help ourselves to stay true to our ideas and we help ourselves make difficult choices when the time comes. Deciding on our beliefs and values also helps us to recognize the values that make us feel empowered in others, and allows us to surround ourselves with people who uplift us and keep us feeling good. Deciding on what you value is especially important when it comes to finding compatible relationship partners as well.

When we strongly know what we believe we don’t let the negative opinions of others affect us. Don’t let anyone tell you what is impossible for you, or what you should believe in, know these things yourself and don’t give this power to others.

Decisions about Your Life

Simple decisions about how you want to live can affect the entire path you walk through life. Deciding what kind of person you want to be is a powerful decision that can influence all of your future choices. Are you the type of person who wants to live a different unique kind of life, or are you the type whose idea of happiness comes from building a strong family? These decisions help us get clear about what we want from life, and help us to achieve them by focusing our future thoughts and actions on whatever it is we think will bring us happiness.

A decision like this is best thought about from the perspective of looking back on your life from your death bed. If you looked back from the end of your life what would you most like to see? What would your fondest memories be, what kind of stories would you want to have? There aren’t many things that are more important than deciding what kind of life you want to live, and making definite decisions about this will affect your entire journey.

Deciding Who You Are

Decisions about who you are can give your life clarity and keep it simple. One thing I’ve learned recently is that it’s important to decide what you will and won’t accept from yourself and others. I think it’s important to have strong boundaries about which behaviors you find acceptable so that you can take action to correct these behaviors in your life. If you decide you wont accept procrastination from yourself, you’ll easily see when your procrastinating and the decision will drive you to act. Or if you decide you won’t accept friends who throw insults your way, you’ll be quick to express this to your friends and either they will accept your boundaries or new friends can be found.

Firm decisions about who you are can be incredibly important when it comes to people who face harsh judgment or discrimination. A girl in China for example may be heavily discriminated against or judged by strangers, her friends or even her family for dating a foreigner. She may feel torn one way or another about what to do, or who is right and wrong, or her traditional vs modern ideas, and this back and forth struggle between thoughts can cause her lots of suffering. It’s only when she can make a firm decision about who she is and what she believes in (one way or another) that she can have some clarity in her life and she will know what to do. With a firm decision she can stand by her beliefs strongly in the face of judgment and criticism from others.

Finally deciding how others can or can not influence you is important. Deciding in life not to give your power away to others makes you a stronger person. I once heard advice that has always stuck with me. It said “why should you ever give permission for someone else to cause you unhappiness or misery?” How we emotionally react to others is completely within our control, so why should we allow others the power of controlling our emotions? Why should we give others the power to make us angry, or depressed or anything negative? Decide your emotions are yours only, and no one else can make you feel anything you don’t want to, and you will find the power others have over you begins to diminish to the point where you no longer have any buttons for others to push.

Final Thoughts

Decisions are thoughts given form. They are the transition from thought to action. They have the power to change the course of our life and change who we are as a person. What kind of definite decisions can you make in your life right now that will make your life look completely different 5 years from now?

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