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The Power of Decision



The beginning of every day starts with a decision, and that first decision can dictate your entire day! I was meeting with a client who told me he was exhausted. He said he was tired when he woke up, tired at work, tired at home. I asked him to try something for me. I asked him to write a note to put on his mirror, so he’d see it first thing, that says, “I am alive and full of energy!” Then I asked him to read it out loud to himself every morning. Deciding you are alive and full of energy first thing in the morning helps you start your day on a positive note.


I’m reminded of the movie, The Help, when the character Aibileen tells her employer’s young daughter, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” The young girl, Mae, isn’t treated very well at home and doesn’t feel like she matters. Aibileen has Mae repeat the mantra back to her, with the goal of helping her decide that she IS kind, smart, and important, no matter how the actions of others may make her want to believe otherwise. She has to make the decision not to let others dictate how she feels.


Our lives are full of decisions; sometimes we allow others to make them for us, but it’s still a decision. Whenever I’ve made a decision in my life, whether a good decision or one I later regretted, there was power in that decision. We’ve talked about a lot of different “powers” we can exercise.


The power of letting go of shame is the decision to learn something from your mistakes rather than identifying with them.


The power of vulnerability is the decision to share your mistakes with others, rather than only showing the world your achievements.


The power of clarity is the decision to find your ‘why.’


The power of identity is the decision to look inside and figure out who you really are, not just who you want others to see.


The power of being unoffendable is the decision to guide your own emotions, rather than letting others have control over them.


The power of prioritization is the decision to do the important thing first, even if you don’t want to, and to understand what that thing is.


Most, if not all, of those powers deal with how we see ourselves, and how we see others. All of those things begin and end with whatever holds the greatest influence over the decisions we make.


Like most people, I make decisions based on what I need, and also based on what I want. Either one of those can be healthy or unhealthy decisions. What I’ve noticed about myself is that when I have made unhealthy decisions, they’ve been influenced by my desire for acceptance—when I think I need others to confirm me, that I need to be liked. Where does a decision like that leave me? Fulfilled? Or depleted?

 

At the end of the day, our decisions are about what we really want deep down, or what we think we deserve.

 

One decision I make often is the decision to procrastinate. That usually happens when I know making the right decision in that situation will make me really uncomfortable. Other times it’s because I haven’t really gone through all the steps we’ve talked about: finding my why, having clarity, knowing who I am. And sometimes, or maybe even most of the time, it’s because I’m afraid to hear the word ‘no.’


That fear of rejection is very, very powerful, and the decision to avoid rejection almost always leads to compromising your values or principles, which is a decision in and of itself. The most powerful decision we can make is to be brave enough to ask ourselves the question ‘why,’ and then discover what that ‘why’ really is. Then we have a guide for boundaries we need to create for future decisions.


Ultimately, nothing happens in your day without a decision. You either follow your regular routine, or you don’t. Do you workout, or skip it today? Do you stick to the food choices you know are healthy, or eat a donut? Nothing happens without making a decision.


People who are pursuing excellence take great care in their decisions. Look at martial arts, for example. That is a pursuit of excellence through growth. A martial artist makes the decision to pursue that excellence, focusing on creating muscle memory that becomes second-nature to them, or what we call ‘unconscious competence.’


My parents always told me: You have a decision to make about who your friends will be, and that decision will shape so much of your life.


Looking back I can see that they were so right. There are those who have been an amazing positive influence in my life, and those who were not so positive. I do recognize that sometimes you have to make the decision to be involved in someone’s life who isn’t necessarily a positive influence, but you’re involved with them based on the positive influence you can have on their life. Awareness is the key.


Writing this blog was a decision. Whenever I get a word of inspiration about a blog topic, I have to decide how I’ll flesh it out. Is this a topic where I want to go deep and address the underlying issues? Is that of value? What part of the topic will I focus on?


At the end of the day, our decisions are about what we really want deep down, or what we think we deserve. Our decisions define our mindset, for better or for worse, so the question is: How will we make those decision(s)?

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