Thursday, April 7, 2016

Decide, don't slide

The first time I heard this phrase, I thought it sounded silly.  A simple rhyme devised on the fly to help someone remember a concept, but maybe a little too silly and not clever enough.  Over the years though, I haven’t come up with a better way to help explain and remember such an empowering idea.   There is something mighty about the conviction that I am able to make a decision and feel assured that I can manage the consequences.  That silly phrase, “Decide, don’t slide” helps me realize the power of that conviction.
We make decisions daily, but not all are equal.  Some have more weight than others.  What to eat for breakfast vs. where to go to college are very different decisions.  The amount of energy and focus put into the heavy decisions will be important whereas some decisions don’t merit much thought.  However, one long term effect of having a good decision making process is that we build confidence in our ability to not only decide but also to handle the consequences of our decisions.  That is where this phrase “Decide, don’t slide” is helpful.
Many decisions are unconscious decisions that get made by default.  By not consciously acting on information (making a decision), we are in effect, deciding not to decide about something.  For instance, many decisions are ‘made for us’ when we don’t pay attention to deadlines.  A habitual procrastinator, I have frequently fretted about a looming deadline, telling myself all of the lies   
procrastinators espouse: I work better under pressure; I’m better at impromptu; I’ll have time later… As the deadlines approach and then zoom by, we might experience some relief that we are no longer pressured mixed with some regret for not having stepped up.This is a scary precedent that we set.  This is what is meant by “sliding”.  Many of us slide through life without realizing that we are missing out on an important part of developing our own character and self-image.  When we slide, we may have the advantage of complaining that we are victims of our circumstances.  While this may be accurate because there are many situations that affect us which are beyond our control or influence, it is not very helpful.   Victimhood is an assumption of powerlessness.  On the other hand, we may possibly end up where we want to be by sheer luck.  In the long run, I believe that many people who get stuck in ‘sliding’ through life at some point look up and look around them and finally ask themselves, “How the hell did I end up here?” 
In contrast, people who are able to decide are at least able to look around and know with assurance that they are where they are because they chose to be there.  Depending on where that is, it may not be pleasant.  It may be divorced, or incarcerated, or it could be educated and empowered and self-sufficient.  But along the way, I’d be willing to bet that the person who is able to “decide” at least has a powerful character trait: self-determination.  I repeat, there is something mighty about the conviction that I am able to make a decision and feel assured that I can manage the consequences.  If I have this ability, even if the consequences are a hard lesson, I can always make another decision to course-correct if I need to.   For a ‘decider’, there are no good or bad decisions, just decisions that help or decisions that hinder.  Setting and working toward goals are part of the process, but decisions are the action steps that get us to where we want to be rather than ending up someplace and wondering how we got there.
This little, silly phrase has helped me understand my poor habit, but also empowered me to take control of my outcomes, responsibility for my decisions and ultimately, feel good about myself because I am learning to trust the decision making process as I make continual course corrections.   

And now, may you decide today that you want to have some say over where you end up.  This decision will not only affect where you end up, but how you get there.  Decide today to enjoy the journey. 


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Kaeciendra Mncube said...

Amazing article. All we ever have to do is to take control today and the rest will follow.

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