It is the moment when everything changes. A decision is made. You don’t have an inclination or an interest, you made a choice. You’ve decided. You’re committed. “I’m doing it!”
When was the last time you said that? I think you’ll be shocked to discover it’s been a long time.
If you’re anything like me, default conversations are full of, “I think what I need to do is…” “I really have to…” “What I’d love to do is…” We’ve developed the bad habit of making observations about decisions but never actually making decisions.
A decision is a commitment. It’s a contract of sorts. It can be between us and others but it can also be an agreement with ourselves. We’ve forgotten how to make decisions and commitments and it’s causing us to lose our way.
In our options culture, we prioritize not “over-committing.” We double book for events, we don’t commit until we’ve arrived at parties, we don’t choose strategic directions, we pick the last remaining possibility as the clock runs out.
We find comfort in the lack of constraint but it’s dangerous.
Riding the force of a wave on a surfboard is a blast. The same wave will destroy you if at sea in a storm without a motor. Our inability to make decisions has put our lives in the hands of “our environment.” What started as feeling free to go where the wind goes, now makes us worry about what’s coming over the horizon.
We need to begin practicing decision making and reclaim a grip on our lives.
Decision making is a contract you make with yourself.
A legal contract has elements that must exist for it to be valid. Agreements are comprised of an offer, acceptance, and consideration. Decision making has similar core elements and practicing them can change our lives.
Consideration, Time, and Commitment.
Consideration is the first element. The addition of this habit alone would be transforming. Consideration is the act of scrutinizing what we want, what we hope to get, and the price of each choice. It can be the price of food on the menu or the promise of fitness in return for sacrificed sleep. We do pretty well with considering the immediate cost of choices in front of us. But too often our decision making defaults to, what makes us look good, feel good, be right, or be in control. You can’t consider the options if you don’t know what you want. You have to look critically and you have to reason with intention.
The second element is time.
We are less effective at calculating the costs of delay. The right answer today may not be the right decision tomorrow. If the question being considered is an abstract, costly, or high risk, it’s easy to give up responsibility and wait for the situation to push us to action. This has the dual benefit of inoculating the momentary discomfort while also allowing us to distribute the blame should the situation go wrong. If we consider ALL the costs, our decisions will be clearer
You know you’re making a decision if it encompasses time.
The last element is commitment. A commitment is a promise that I’ll do what I said I’d do when I said I’d do it, and if I don’t I’ll make it right.
This is one that bites us. We say what, but we don’t say when and there’s rarely a consequence for the failure. We don’t take responsibility, we move past the moment. It doesn’t take long to mentally create a habit of saying things that have no force. Our words have little meaning because they exist in their own economy, their own world. They have no bearing on our reality and how we spend on our time and attention.
But if you make decisions and treat them like the commitment they are you’ll discover traction. You’ll accomplish more than you think is possible.
What are you going to do?
When are you going to do it?
What will you do if you don’t?
Are you tired of sleepwalking through your life? I am.
Let’s start keeping promises to ourselves.
Let’s be intentional.
Consider, what we want?
Look at your family, your health, your money, and your career and own it.
Decide when you want it?
Put a timeline to your plan.
Make a promise to yourself.
Keep that promise.
Watch the impossible become possible.